The $1.6M Arts Response Initiative was an investment in the diversity and vitality of the arts across Ontario. The one-time initiative supported individual artists, ad hoc groups and collectives, and arts organizations to carry out their activities in an environment of change. This initiative encouraged exploration, adaptation, and the development of new ways of working that would increase the inclusiveness and resilience of Ontario’s arts sector.
To develop the Arts Response Initiative, OAC held consultations and roundtables with artists and arts organizations across Ontario. These conversations made it clear that COVID-19 was having an acute impact on the arts sector, affecting everyone both professionally and personally. We also heard that the impacts of the pandemic were being experienced unevenly across communities and regions in the province, exacerbating existing inequities. As a result, projects that supported OAC priority groups
, including Black and Indigenous artists, were given particular consideration. For the arts to move forward and grow more resilient, we must ensure that all communities are included.
The funds for this initiative came from OAC’s annual base budget, temporarily redirected from programs that supported activities limited by travel and in-person gathering restrictions. Specifically, Market Development Travel Assistance and Market Development Projects programs were suspended for 2020, as well as Chalmers Arts Fellowships (a private endowment managed by OAC). A percentage of the Touring Projects budget was also used.
The Arts Response Initiative is one of the ways that OAC addressed the challenges faced by the arts community in the context of COVID-19. Prior to this initiative, OAC took a number of other steps to support grant applicants and recipients (see COVID-19 – OAC activity updates
). OAC’s project programs continued to support creation, production, presentation, dissemination and artistic activities that engage communities and schools, many with adjusted eligibility to recognize how artists and arts organizations were responding and adapting to the current context of the pandemic.
See the videos below for practical information about the Arts Response Initiative.
Introduction to the Arts Response Initiative
What is the Arts Response Initiative? [ASL video]