July 6, 2020

RE: Study of the recommendations relating to the Economic and Fiscal Update Act, 2020 and the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on Culture and Heritage sectors of the economy.

Submitted by Alliance of Arts Councils of Ontario

We write to you as the newly formed Alliance of Arts Councils of Ontario. We are 24 municipal and regional arts councils from across Ontario who collectively represent tens of thousands of artists, cultural workers and arts groups in every discipline, and large and small businesses invested in partnering with the arts sector to rebuild our arts communities, our regions and our province.

We applaud the initiatives taken by the Provincial Government in its response to the COVID-19 crisis, and thank Minister Lisa MacLeod who tirelessly champions the value of the arts in Ontario during these challenging times.

We are grateful for the opportunity to share our recommendations that will directly impact the role the arts can play in the province’s economic and social recovery. Arts and culture in Ontario directly contribute $25.0 billion annually to the provincial economy, representing 3.3% of Ontario’s GDP1. Provincial arts recovery support now will also help our cities of all sizes, rural areas and surrounding regions. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, “arts, culture and heritage improve the ability of municipal governments to influence local economic development by attracting and retaining a skilled and talented workforce.”

COVID-19 has devastated arts communities across Ontario. Like our colleagues in the Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture here in Ontario and across the world, we have been the hardest hit, with few options for short term recovery, and we are projected to be the last to be able to fully open and recover.

The arts sector is incredibly vulnerable to disruption. The risks and impact are equally devastating to large cultural Industries as it is to small local galleries, theatres, concert halls and individual artists. Recovery for the arts, at all levels and in all parts of the province, is crucial to stabilizing and growing the cultural, and by extension provincial, ecosystem.

Minister MacLeod has challenged us all to imagine what Ontario could look like in 18 months. As we make plans for recovery, we can take this time to build a new future for Ontario’s arts.

This is an opportunity for the arts sector to work together with local and provincial governments to reshape the sector, its infrastructure, and supports, so it can thrive and contribute even more to the social, mental and economic health of our province.

Alliance of Arts Councils of Ontario: