Looking ahead to 2019 in Ontario's culture sector


(Liz Forsberg) #1

Happy New Year my friends! Here are some developments I’m excited about for 2019… in no particular order.
What are you excited about in our sector for 2019? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

1. Addressing the effects of gentrification on artists & others
As the cost of living continues to soar in Ontario’s urban centers, there is a project underway that is looking to understand and address the adverse effects of gentrification on artists and other vulnerable, low-income groups in the GTHA. Led by ArtsPond, Groundstory is engaging folks with lived experience across the region as they go deeper into their research. I’m looking forward to seeing how this work continues to evolve.

2. Finding affordable spaces for culture
The rising cost of living is also impacting the ability of big city arts organizations to find affordable cultural space to develop and produce their work. Enter Faith & The Common Good, an interfaith network dedicated to assisting religious congregations of all backgrounds to take collective action in creating more sustainable communities. Their Regeneration Works project is helping to connect congregations and community groups in need of affordable space to ensure that faith buildings can remain as important community assets instead of becoming the next loft conversion. With faith building closures happening at an alarming rate (9000 are predicted to close in the next decade across Canada) this presents both a huge challenge AND an opportunity for reimagining faith buildings as community hubs housing arts and other non-profits across the country. Read Kendra Fry’s post about “Why Faith and The Arts Should Cohabitate”.

3. Advancing the discussion around precarious work in our sector
I think we’re seeing a common thread here! The discussion around the experience of precarious work in our sector and the wellbeing of artists and culture workers across the province is starting to gain momentum. In the coming months, I’m going to be shining a spotlight on these discussions here on the Inspired People hub on the Knowledge Centre. How are our artists and culture workers fairing? How can we create the best circumstances for artists and culture workers to thrive in their work so they can continue making this province a vibrant place for Ontarians to live, work, play and raise families? Using the tag #ThriveInCulture we’ll be exploring research, articles and other resources that are addressing these questions. And along the way, we’ll hear from some special guests who are putting their minds to understanding and doing something about these issues.

4. Arts thriving in public spaces
The Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation have been running a hugely successful Arts in the Parks program in Toronto for the past three years that has seen artists performing and offering participatory workshops in parks across the city. It’s all part of a program to make sure that every neighbourhood in the city has access to arts and culture. They recently released an evaluation of this program and it shows the incredible impact of this work.. I’m very excited to share that OTF teamed up with TAC & TAF to develop a toolkit based on what they’ve learned from this initiative so that communities big and small across Ontario can develop their own arts in public space initiatives. Stay tuned for the launch of this toolkit in the deepest depths of winter when we need to be imagining ourselves communing with nature and the arts in the warmer months ahead of us!

5. A new source of revenue for the arts?
Late last year, the federal government announced a 10-year $755 million Social Finance Fund to encourage innovative approaches to persistent and complex social challenges. It will give charitable, non-profit and social purpose organizations access to new financing to implement their innovative ideas, and will connect them with non-government investors seeking to support projects that will drive positive social change. And while the arts has been somewhat absent from this conversation in Canada so far, this is not the case in the United States and the UK. This is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY for our sector to think about how we can build greater resilience in the arts. Intrigued? You can hear Christine Pellerin, co-author of the Metcalf commissioned paper “More Than Money: How Social Finance Can Build Resilience in the Arts Sector” talk about her vision for social finance in the arts in Canada in a recent MC Minds podcast produced by Mass Culture.