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.
OAC is an agency that operates at arm's length from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
. 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 55 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 2020-21
, OAC invested $78.6 million
communities across Ontario through 2,176
grants to individual artists and 1,312
grants to organizations. This amount includes the one-time $25 million Arts Recovery Support Fund
from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
The OAC was established in 1963 to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.