Dear Friends and Colleagues -
It seems like only a couple of years ago that I wrote my first letter to the heads of Ontario arts organizations, in my new role as Director & CEO of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). In fact, it has been eight years, during which there have been many highs and lows.
I count among the highs two provincial tours – the first in 2014 when we launched our multi-year strategic plan, Vital Arts and Public Value, and the second in 2017, when we shared plans for allocating OAC’s significant funding increase over the next four years. Sadly, this long-awaited funding increase survived only one year beyond the announcement. That was certainly one of the lows.
Getting to know many of you through these tours, and at other meetings and events over the years, I have been struck by the extraordinary talent, commitment and fortitude of so many professional artists and arts organizations in all parts of our great province. You continue to create the work that helps make our communities wonderful places to live, work, visit and invest in. And in our increasingly polarized world, we need the arts more than ever to communicate with each other and understand the complexities of our times.
Throughout centuries, art-making has always survived, even under the most adverse conditions. It will continue to survive. But I want to believe in a future where the arts will thrive in Ontario – where artists and other arts professionals will not only be able to make a living but be widely recognized as valued professionals in their communities.
I am proud to have led OAC for the past eight years, with its extremely dedicated and capable staff and board of directors. I’m very pleased that Carolyn Vesely, OAC’s current Director of Granting, will take over as CEO on January 2, 2020.
Today is my final day at Ontario Arts Council. As of tomorrow, I will be traveling for the next four months or so, before returning to Toronto. Thank you for being great colleagues over the years and, in many cases, friends. I hope to see you again soon.