Winter Theme: How are artists & culture workers fairing in Ontario?


(Liz Forsberg) #1

We’re starting off a new year and a new season on the Inspired People hub on the Knowledge Centre thinking about the wellbeing of artists and culture workers across the province. Why this focus? A key part of OTF’s mission to create a healthy and vibrant Ontario involves investing in initiatives that enrich people’s lives through arts, culture and heritage. In 2017-18, we invested $15.6 million through the Inspired People action area with this goal in mind. In looking at the big picture health of our sector, we also need to think about the conditions under which Ontario’s artists and cultural workers are working to create opportunities for Ontarians to engage with arts, culture & heritage. 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?

Ontario is a cultural powerhouse. 43% of Canada’s artists call Ontario home.

  • Artists are more likely than other workers to hold multiple jobs (11% of artists held second jobs in 2011, vs. 5% of the general labour force).
  • The rate of self-employment among artists is many times higher than the self-employment rate in the overall labour force.
  • The average employment income of artists in 2011 was $27,600 compared to an average of $45,400 for the overall labour force. Cultural workers earned $39,100 – more than artists, but less than the average for the overall labour force.

This winter, we will explore how artists and culture workers are fairing in this province working towards answering the all-important question:


Over the next 3 months we’ll share research, articles and other resources on the Inspired People Hub using the hashtag #ThrivingInCulture to organize this conversation and we welcome you to do the same! Along the way we’ll hear from some special guests who are putting their minds to understanding and doing something about these issues.

First up will be Jessa Agilo, founder and CEO of ArtsPond. Jessa is leading the Groundstory collective impact initiative that seeks to uncover and address the drivers and ripple effects of gentrification in the arts. Jessa is a wealth of knowledge on this topic and has assembled a whole host of resources that explore this complex and multilayered phenomenon. Starting the week of February 21st Jessa will be sharing a series of resources she sees as crucial pieces of the puzzle to better understand how these issues are playing out and how we might begin to address them.

Looking forward to our conversations!

(Jessa Agilo) #2

Thank you Liz and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the opportunity to share this winter some the perplexing and inspiring lessons, resources, and stories that Groundstory has been discovering on this issue. I can’t wait to engage with everyone on the ways arts and culture not only can, but are, fostering thriving communities in the face of rapid densification across the province.