Artists of colour have an abundance of diverse and innovative arts practices that are essential to the cultural vitality of Ontario. The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) recognizes that historic and systemic barriers have affected access to opportunities and resources for many people of colour. This has led to marginalization and inequities for many artists of colour in the arts funding landscape.
In order for arts professionals of colour to thrive, increased infrastructure and resources are necessary to support their work and careers. Arts organizations and ad hoc groups/collectives from these communities may need additional support to develop as presenters, producers and administrators. There is also the need to foster leadership for arts professionals of colour within the communities from which they come. For these reasons, OAC has identified artists of colour as a priority group in our strategic plan Vital Arts and Public Value
. Read more
Applicants who are of colour are encouraged to apply to any program in which their activities are eligible. In addition, OAC has a number of programs that were created specifically to meet the needs of artists who are of colour.
Curatorial Projects: Indigenous and Culturally Diverse
What We Fund
The program supports the development of the work of Ontario-based Indigenous curators and curators who are people of colour, and the exhibition infrastructure in Ontario. It aims to increase the ability of Ontario public galleries, artist-run centres and other organizations to present projects by Indigenous curators and curators who are people of colour in contexts determined by the participants.
What We Fund
The program supports dance training derived from traditional, classical and/or contemporary dance of the African, Caribbean, Asian, Arabic, Middle Eastern and South Asian diasporas, Indigenous dance, and Deaf and disability dance practices.
Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour
What We Fund
This program supports Ontario-based Indigenous arts professionals and arts professionals of colour for professional development and skill-building opportunities that advance applicants’ work and careers. It funds all contemporary and traditional art practices that are supported at OAC.
The OAC’s definition of the term artists of colour
is based on the Government of Canada’s definition of “visible minorities”, which is “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.” The OAC is aware of the diversity within this large category, and the specificity of Black experiences in particular.
We believe that works of artistic merit are created by artists from all communities, regions and cultural backgrounds. Artists of colour are encouraged to apply to any of OAC’s programs where their activities are eligible and, as a priority group, are given special consideration during the assessment process. There are also a number of targeted programs listed at the end of this page.
OAC’s Equity Statement
We are inspired by and value Ontario’s artists, who help shape our thriving and diverse society and express the richness of our stories, histories and cultures. Therefore, as a public agency, funder and employer, OAC will lead and be responsive and inclusive in supporting diverse artists, artistic practices, arts communities and our own organization.
See our Equity Plan
for more information.
Peer assessment is an important principle for OAC. We are committed to assembling panels of artists and arts professionals that reflect the rich diversity of Ontario, OAC priority groups, and a wide range of perspectives. All assessors receive a fee for reading the applications and for participating in the assessment meetings. The OAC covers travel, meals and accommodation for assessors who come from out-of-town, as well as accessibility and childcare needs. If you would like to be considered to serve as an OAC peer assessor, you may nominate yourself by completing the form on this page.
The OAC staff and assessors adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code. Assessors are asked to consider who is telling whose story and who has the right to develop and share cultural expressions and knowledge from any community, particularly historically underrepresented groups or individuals. Assessors may consider the impact of the artistic work in the context of historic or continuing barriers faced by the applicant and the communities engaged by the work, when accessing opportunities for producing and participating in the arts. In cases where two applications have an equal score when funding runs out, the applicant who is a member of a priority group will be awarded the grant.