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Ontario Arts Council

About Us

In 1962, several visionary Ontarians approached John Robarts, Premier of Ontario, with the idea of establishing a provincial arts council. This group, led by Arthur Gelber, represented the fledgling arts infrastructure that existed then in Ontario. On April 26, 1963, Bill 162 – the legislation setting up the arts council – was given its final reading in the Ontario Legislature, creating the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).

Ontarians, through their elected officials, had decided that the arts were important to their lives and deserved support through public funding. It was the beginning of a system that, with the assistance of other municipal, provincial, and federal funders, has enabled Ontario to flourish as an artistically rich and creative province.

The OAC is an arm's-length agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The OAC's grants and services to professional, Ontario-based artists and arts organizations support arts education, Indigenous arts, community arts, crafts, dance, Francophone arts, literature, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theatre, touring, and visual arts. The OAC is directed by 12 volunteer board (council) members who come from communities throughout the province. They are appointed by the Government of Ontario for a three-year term. The OAC's board is responsible for setting OAC's policies and oversees the organization's operation.

For more than 50 years, the OAC has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2016-17, OAC funded 1,657 individual artists and 1,098 organizations in 212 communities across Ontario for a total of $50.8 million.
 

Mission Statement

The OAC was established in 1963 to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.

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The OAC Chair Rita Davies at the reception for Arts Day at Queen’s Park, November 23, 2016. (Photo: Bard Azima)