“Now is the winter of our discontent…” I wish I could continue on to say “made glorious summer,” but, at time of writing, we are still in the grip of this seemingly endless winter. I hope that by the time you read this message, there will finally be signs of spring.
I’d like to thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for assisting with our efforts to keep operating funding stable for yet another year! This is very good news for the nearly 575 arts organizations in every part of the province who receive operating funding from OAC. Thanks to the government’s continued investment, we will be able to transition to our new strategic plan in the months ahead, knowing that well-assessed organizations who receive operating grants will be maintained at the same level in 2014/15.
You may recall that in 2013/14, we adjusted our operating assessment process to reflect an A, B, C or D ranking for all organizations that receive operating grants. Those that were ranked A or B had their operating grants maintained at the same level. Those that were ranked C saw small reductions. Those that were ranked D (equivalent to “below standard” in previous years) had significantly larger reductions. The reductions made to organizations that were not as well-assessed through the peer adjudication process allow for creative renewal and, specifically, to make room for new and emerging arts activity. We will continue this process in 2014/15 for all organizations that are in the first year of their three-year operating grant cycle.
Another major issue currently being worked on is OAC’s office space. After 50 years located at 151 Bloor Street West, Toronto, OAC’s lease will expire in 2016. A comprehensive space-planning exercise is underway that will explore new ways of working and, in particular, ways to save costs by reducing our current office footprint. Despite its Bloor Street location, OAC has always enjoyed relatively low rental costs, due to leases that were negotiated many years ago, before the Bloor Street West / Yorkville neighbourhood became what it is today.
We will explore all real estate options, ranging from staying at 151 Bloor to moving to another transit-accessible location in downtown Toronto. The move to online granting should also reduce the space needed to process paper applications and thereby mitigate rising rental costs. We will keep you informed as this unfolds.
When I started writing this a few days ago, it was grey and very cold outside. Today, the sun is shining brightly and the temperature is almost up to zero! Here’s hoping this upward trend continues.