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.
Stirring emotion for 50 years and counting!
The Ontario Arts Council is an arm's-length agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
. OAC's grants and services to professional, Ontario-based artists and arts organizations support arts education, Aboriginal arts, community arts, crafts, dance, Franco-Ontarian arts, literature, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theatre, touring, and visual arts.
The Ontario Arts Council 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. OAC's board is responsible for setting OAC's policies and oversees the organization's operation.
In 2011-2012, OAC funded 1,681 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 216 communities across Ontario for a total of $52.8 million.
During this time frame, OAC also administered $9.8 million of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Arts Investment Fund (AIF) designed to strengthen not-for-profit arts organizations. In addition, OAC provided an extra $393,393 to book publishers and periodicals that are not eligible for the AIF.
The Ontario Arts Council was established in 1963 to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.