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Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058

Message from Peter Caldwell, Director & CEO

March 19, 2014

“Now is the winter of our discontent…” I wish I could continue on to say “made glorious summer,” but, at time of writing, we are still in the grip of this seemingly endless winter. I hope that by the time you read this message, there will finally be signs of spring.

Arts Day at Queen's Park

On February 26, OAC hosted Arts Days at Queen’s Park(AD@QP). I would like to thank the 60 plus arts representatives, some of whom travelled a great distance, for meetings with 55 MPPs, who were happy to meet with artists and other arts representatives to hear about the important contribution the arts make to their communities. Special thanks also to our provincial arts service organizations (the PASO coalition), who collaborated with us, as well as to the three national arts service organizations (Orchestras Canada, la Fédération culturelle canadienne-française and CAPACOA) who assisted us.

AD@QP was a great success, including nearly 1000 Twitter posts and 82 pictures posted using #ArtsDayQP / #JourdartQP and variations. The day culminated in a reception attended by approximately 100 artists and arts-organization representatives and many MPPs. We were pleased that Minister Michael Chan, as well as the two Culture Critics, PC MPP Laurie Scott and NDP MPP Paul Miller, joined us to speak on behalf of public support for the arts through OAC.

Strategic Planning

OAC has moved into the translation and production stage of our new strategic plan. The core content of the plan has been approved by OAC’s board of directors, and we are now working to flesh out the overall plan, including context and process, with a view to launching it in a few months. The new strategic plan will provide us with a long-term blueprint for OAC and will also require the development of a multi-year implementation strategy. 

I would like to express special thanks to Kathryn Townshend, OAC’s Director of Research, Policy & Evaluation, who has so capably led the strategic planning process for the past 18 months. She and OAC’s Strategic Plan Steering Committee have spent many long hours on this. In addition to Kathryn and myself, the committee included Pat Bradley, Jim Grace, Kirsten Gunter, Bushra Junaid, Michael Murray, Nina Small, Carolyn Vesely and Myles Warren. Thanks also to the rest of the OAC staff and board of directors, all of whom participated in planning sessions, and the approximately 2,000 members of the arts community who provided invaluable input by completing our comprehensive online survey, attending a full-day focus group and/or participating in the Equity Plan validation process.

I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Consulting Matrix (Judy Wolfe, Principal) and Ginder Consulting (Jenny Ginder, Principal), who were very helpful to us in crafting and honing the strategic plan core content. I look forward to presenting the plan to you, and hearing your feedback, in the months ahead. 

2014-15 Operating Grants

I’d like to thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for assisting with our efforts to keep operating funding stable for yet another year! This is very good news for the nearly 575 arts organizations in every part of the province who receive operating funding from OAC. Thanks to the government’s continued investment, we will be able to transition to our new strategic plan in the months ahead, knowing that well-assessed organizations who receive operating grants will be maintained at the same level in 2014/15. 

You may recall that in 2013/14, we adjusted our operating assessment process to reflect an A, B, C or D ranking for all organizations that receive operating grants. Those that were ranked A or B had their operating grants maintained at the same level. Those that were ranked C saw small reductions. Those that were ranked D (equivalent to “below standard” in previous years) had significantly larger reductions. The reductions made to organizations that were not as well-assessed through the peer adjudication process allow for creative renewal and, specifically, to make room for new and emerging arts activity. We will continue this process in 2014/15 for all organizations that are in the first year of their three-year operating grant cycle.

Winding up our 50th anniversary celebrations

In April, we mark the end of a wonderful year of 50th anniversary activities. Many arts organizations used this opportunity to underscore the importance of public funding of the arts through the OAC by hosting special events, placing congratulatory ads on their websites or print publications, or by posting Live Love Art, OAC’s 50th anniversary video. Perhaps no sector jumped aboard more enthusiastically than the classical music sector. And keeping pace with those special events was David Parsons, OAC’s Classical Music Officer, who has attended and spoken at countless performances and events that were dedicated to the crucial support received from OAC over the past 10, 20, 30 or more years. Kudos and warm thanks to the many festivals, orchestras and choral groups who participated, as well as many the other organizations in other disciplines, for their warm support and encouragement. Here’s to the next 50!

Introducing Nova

In addition to the strategic planning process, several other large initiatives have been taking place at OAC over the past year and are now starting to converge. Collectively, these initiatives will reshape what OAC does, and how we do it, in the years ahead. Among these is the Nova project, which is the new name for the system that OAC is developing for online grant applications. Among many improvements, Nova will allow organizations and individuals to apply online. You’ll be hearing much more about this initiative later this year, and we will begin our first online grant applications in early 2015.

OAC office on Bloor Street

Another major issue currently being worked on is OAC’s office space. After 50 years located at 151 Bloor Street West, Toronto, OAC’s lease will expire in 2016. A comprehensive space-planning exercise is underway that will explore new ways of working and, in particular, ways to save costs by reducing our current office footprint. Despite its Bloor Street location, OAC has always enjoyed relatively low rental costs, due to leases that were negotiated many years ago, before the Bloor Street West / Yorkville neighbourhood became what it is today.

We will explore all real estate options, ranging from staying at 151 Bloor to moving to another transit-accessible location in downtown Toronto. The move to online granting should also reduce the space needed to process paper applications and thereby mitigate rising rental costs. We will keep you informed as this unfolds.

Maybe spring IS in the air...

When I started writing this a few days ago, it was grey and very cold outside. Today, the sun is shining brightly and the temperature is almost up to zero! Here’s hoping this upward trend continues.