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Ontario Arts Council

Contact

Kathryn Townshend

Director of Research, Policy and Evaluation
416-969-7456
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7456

Michael Choo

Research Analyst
416-969-7445    
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7445

Peter Meyler

Freedom of Information & Records Management Coordinator
416-961-1660 ext. 7468

Fostering Arts at a Local Level: A review of community arts councils in Ontario

In spring 2010 OAC hired mDm Consulting to produce Fostering Arts at a Local Level, a survey of Community Arts Councils in Ontario.  The goal was to gain a fuller understanding of the number and types of community arts councils that exist throughout the province; the contexts in which they operate; the roles they play in their communities; and the range of activities they undertake in response to their regional needs.

Read the full report

Fostering Arts at a Local Level, provides an overview of community arts councils in Ontario - both those receiving operating and/or project funding through OAC granting programs and those not funded by OAC.

The report covers the majority of existing community arts councils in the province offering a view into the scope of their activities and the relationship between their activities and the contexts in which they operate. It also summarizes the interests and concerns of community arts councils in relation to OAC and points to some of the ways OAC can support them to better respond to the needs of the artists and arts organizations in their community.   

The survey does not - and was not commissioned to - evaluate the quality of the work of community arts councils or the appropriateness of the services and/or programming they provide to their communities.  

Fostering Arts at a Local Level states, “a strengthened community arts council community is a benefit to OAC offering an ‘ear to the ground’ to better understand how arts and culture are supported and represented in communities throughout the province.”
  
In response to the report’s recommendations, OAC will:
  • offer peer-to-peer networking and professional development opportunities with Community Arts Councils to provide capacity building, professional development and networking opportunities;
  • develop a community arts councils operating program in the spring 2012 to support and strengthen the sector’s provision of services and programming in their communities.
 
The survey reveals the changing nature of the sector.  The role that many community arts councils play in their communities has evolved in response to recent economic and demographic changes in their regions.  New community arts councils have emerged to serve new or expanded areas.  Some councils have significantly shifted their focus and mandate while others have closed due to a lack of resources and/or community support.  

The report indicates that there is no one definition or model that best represents how community arts councils function.  However the survey found that community arts councils in the province tend to fall into one of three categories: service-oriented councils; presenting and producing councils; and programming councils. 

The report reveals that the most successful and/or promising organizations are responding to their local conditions with appropriate services and/or programs. Therefore, it is less important to define them than it is to look at the degree to which they are relevant to their communities.