Minister’s message

Arts and culture inspire us, bring us together and make our communities and economy stronger. They give us opportunities for self-expression and have the potential to transform lives, especially for our children and youth.

In September 2015, the Ontario government set out to create the province’s first Culture Strategy, starting with a public engagement process, Culture Talks, to ask what culture means to you and your community. Through large town halls, small group discussions, meetings with Indigenous partners and communities, an online dialogue and written submissions, thousands of you shared your perspectives and priorities with us.

We heard clearly that culture matters deeply to Ontarians, that it is an essential part of individual and community well-being. We heard, too, that culture includes an almost limitless array of human experiences and expressions. Thank you for your tremendous response. Your input helped shape the Ontario Culture Strategy.

I would like to thank my colleague, the Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, for his leadership of the public engagement process and the development of the Culture Strategy, as the former Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Minister Coteau and I are grateful to the members of the Culture Strategy Advisory Group for their dedication, advice and valuable insights throughout the process of creating the Culture Strategy.

Ontario’s diversity, in both people and places, is one of our greatest strengths. We have unique urban, rural and Northern communities, and communities formed through shared origins, histories, lived experiences and languages. This diversity is reflected in our creative expressions and it is what makes arts and culture in Ontario distinct and remarkable.

Opportunities to experience arts and culture should be available to everyone, and our diverse voices should be heard and celebrated. The government of Ontario, our culture and tourism agencies, and many other dedicated organizations and individuals, including artists and volunteers, work hard every day in communities across Ontario to make sure this happens.

This Strategy builds on all of that work by focusing government support where it is needed most: to promote cultural engagement and inclusion, strengthen culture in communities, maximize the contributions of culture and creativity to our knowledge economy and promote the value of the arts throughout government.

I am excited to launch Ontario’s first Culture Strategy. We will continue the dialogue we began with Culture Talks as we move forward to implement the Strategy and strengthen the arts and culture sector for all Ontarians.

Honourable Eleanor McMahon
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Culture Strategy Advisory Group

We thank the members of our Culture Strategy Advisory Group for their dedication, advice and valuable insights throughout the process of creating the Ontario Culture Strategy.

  • Francisco Alvarez, Heritage Toronto
  • Carole Beaulieu, Ocad University
  • Shirley Cheechoo, Weengushk Film Institute
  • Margaret Eaton, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council
  • Shelley Falconer, Art Gallery of Hamilton
  • Jim Fleck, Business for the Arts
  • Georges Haroutiun, Applied Arts magazine
  • Jane Hilton, Ontario Library Association
  • Rose Jacobson, Picasso Pro
  • Randy Lennox, Bell Media
  • Tanya Matanda, Art Gallery of Ontario volunteer
  • Chris McDonald, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
  • Mark Monahan, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, CityFolk and the Festival of Small Halls
  • Tory Tronrud, Thunder Bay Museum, Lakehead University and Ontario History
  • Catherine Voyer-Léger, Alliance culturelle de l’Ontario
  • Nancy Webster, Young People’s Theatre
  • Ron Williamson, ASI (Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Services) and Museum of Ontario Archaeology


Ontario’s stories

Ontario’s stories are rooted in the rich diversity of our landscapes and peoples.

Our vast and varied landscape spans more than a million square kilometres, from Hudson Bay and the boreal forests of the Far North to the Great Lakes and deciduous forests of the south, and from the Manitoba border in the west to the banks of the Ottawa River in the east. Ontario encompasses 444 municipalities and is covered by 46 treaties and other agreements between First Nations and the Crown.

Ontario is home to over 13 million people: Indigenous peoples with deep ties to the land and water; Francophones who celebrated 400 years in Ontario in 2015; disability and Deaffootnote 1 communities with specific cultural and linguistic identities; people from many different ethno-cultural backgrounds who strive to retain their languages and traditions; and many more diverse communities. We have all helped to weave the fabric of today’s Ontario and our stories continue to evolve in exciting ways as our population grows and changes.

Our stories are reflected in our languages, value systems, beliefs, cultural identities, traditions, and the food we lovingly prepare and share. They are embodied in artifacts, heritage buildings and places, cultural and natural landscapes, and in the land itself.

We tell our stories through film and television, music and opera, visual arts and interdisciplinary arts, media arts and interactive digital media like video games and apps, theatre and dance, books and magazines and crafts.

We tell our stories through the architecture of the buildings and spaces we inhabit and that inspire us, the design that adds value to just about everything we touch and use, and the fashion we choose for function and style.

Art galleries, museums, science centres, cultural centres, archives, historical societies, Friendship Centres and public libraries act as storehouses of knowledge and culture, telling our stories, giving us windows onto the world and bringing the world to us.

We celebrate our stories together at pow wows and Rendezvous events, historical re-enactments and multi-sport games, through art and theatre in the park, at music and film festivals, cultural and multicultural festivals, food and agricultural festivals, and at annual events like Doors Open Ontario and Culture Days.

And all of this, of course, is only the beginning. We tell our stories in many other ways.

Culture matters to Ontarians

In fall 2015, we began the process of developing the Culture Strategy with an extensive public engagement process. This was the first time Ontario had held such a far-reaching dialogue with individuals and communities across the province and with all culture sectors about the value and significance of culture. Thousands of people participated through town halls, written submissions and an interactive digital platform. We held smaller community conversations with Francophones, youth, seniors, ethno-cultural communities, newcomers, people with disabilities and people who are Deaf. We also held meetings with Indigenous partners and communities. We reported back with Culture Talks: A Summary of What We Heard from Ontarians.footnote 2

What did we mean by “culture”?footnote 3 We neither defined nor limited its meaning. We wanted to discover what it means to Ontarians and their communities and we learned that it means many different and important things. The response was remarkable for both volume and passion. On the inside front and back covers, we have collected some of the hundreds of ways people defined culture and described why it is important to them. From every corner of the province, in many different voices and in many different words, the overwhelming message we heard was that culture matters profoundly to Ontarians.

Culture enriches every part of our lives

Culture gives free flight to our imaginations, lifts our spirits, entertains us, gives us hope and inspires us in unexpected and sometimes life-changing ways. It gives shape, context and understanding to our experiences and the experiences of others. It can challenge us, ask difficult questions, make us wonder and motivate us to find answers. It reflects and re-imagines our world. Culture connects us and creates community identity, cohesion, vibrancy and prosperity.

As our public engagement process made clear, culture is a fundamental, organic and vital part of our lives and our community life. Many people spoke or wrote about culture as a fourth pillar of community sustainability and well-being, alongside social equity, economic health and environmental responsibility.footnote 4 Participation in arts, culture and recreation is an indicator of quality of life in the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.footnote 5

Culture influences our well-being at all stages of life. In the early years, at school, and through after-school and community-based arts and culture programs, children develop creativity, cross-cultural understanding and often a lifetime connection to arts and culture. Along with techniques for self-expression, youth learn collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and entrepreneurial and professional skills. For at-risk youth especially, engagement in arts and culture is linked to improved social skills and higher academic achievement.

Through the many learning opportunities offered by individual artists, arts organizations, galleries, museums, science centres, botanical gardens and public libraries, arts and cultural experiences support lifelong learning and help develop the talent and skills of Ontarians of all ages. A growing body of research also shows that opportunities to engage with arts and culture build confidence and improve physical and mental health, especially for our seniors.

Ontario’s rich and diverse cultural heritagefootnote 6 gives our communities identity and character, and it enhances our sense of place and pride in where we live. Conserving our cultural heritage reflects what we value about our past, what we have learned from it and what we want future generations to know. Kingston’s limestone buildings, Windsor’s Walkerville, Cobalt’s mine headframes and the Kinomaage-Waapkong (“The Teaching Rocks”) in Petroglyphs Provincial Park are just a few examples from across the province.

Heritage buildings and districts can revitalize downtown cores and main streets, creating desirable neighbourhoods and supporting local economic development. Reusing buildings also cuts down on landfill waste, protects greenfield land and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One report comparing buildings of equivalent size and function found that building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction.footnote 7 As architect Carl Elefante put it, “The greenest building is … one that is already built.”footnote 8

Ontario’s outstanding cultural institutions, attractions, festivals and events infuse our communities and our province with energy and vitality — and contribute to economic development and tourism. Spending by arts and culture tourists generates about $3.9 billion in GDP and supports about 61,000 jobs in the province.footnote 9

Culture also supports the economy through direct and indirect job creation. In 2014, culture contributed about $25.3 billion, or nearly four per cent, to Ontario’s GDP, supporting almost 280,000 jobs.footnote 10 Engagement in arts and culture is a catalyst for creative thinking and innovation, and communities where arts and culture thrive attract creative, talented and skilled people to live and work there. These are essential qualities in the knowledge economy and vital to Ontario’s future growth and prosperity.

Overview of the Culture Strategy

Input into the strategy

The Culture Strategy reflects the input we received during our public engagement process, as well as research we undertook to gather information on culture in Ontario, investigate key trends affecting the sector and look at how jurisdictions around the world are responding to similar trends.footnote 11 Both the research and public input identified Ontario’s increasing diversity and digital technology as two of the greatest impacts on culture in Ontario, now and in the years to come.

While we were developing the Strategy, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report, which shed light on the brutalities committed at residential schools and set out a path toward reconciliation for all Canadians.footnote 12 The report exposes the terrible truth that the residential school system was specifically intended to destroy Indigenous identities and cultures. In our discussions with Indigenous partners and communities, we learned that reconnecting children and youth with their traditional cultures and languages is an urgent priority. The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a plan for working with Indigenous partners to address the legacy of residential schools, close gaps and remove barriers.footnote 13 The plan seeks to create a culturally relevant and responsive justice system, support Indigenous cultures and reconcile relationships with Indigenous peoples.

Ontario continues to work with the Chiefs of Ontario to address issues around Indigenous heritage and burial sites in response to the report of the 2007 Ipperwash Inquiry.footnote 14 We also built on two other critical relationship agreements in developing the Culture Strategy. In August 2015, the Chiefs of Ontario and the Government of Ontario signed an historic Political Accord to guide the relationship between First Nations and the province. The Accord affirms that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government, that the relationship between Ontario and First Nations must be based upon respect for this right and commits the parties to work together on issues of mutual interest.footnote 15 In April 2014, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Government of Ontario renewed the Framework Agreementfootnote 16 to advance reconciliation between the Crown and the Métis people though actions including improving the well-being of Métis children, families and communities. In charting our path forward, understanding and respect for Indigenous cultures will play a key role.

Guided by a vision and principles

Everything we do as we implement the Culture Strategy will be guided by a vision and principles. We invited feedback on the vision and principles during our public engagement process and we are confident that they reflect the values that are important to Ontarians.

Working toward four overarching goals

The Culture Strategy sets out four overarching goals for the next five years: promote cultural engagement and inclusion, strengthen culture in communities, fuel the creative economy and promote the value of the arts throughout government. These goals reflect our commitment to removing barriers and increasing opportunities for cultural participation. They also balance the important social and economic benefits of culture and reinforce the vital role artists and arts organizations play in communities, in the creative economy and in helping to build a more inclusive society. Each goal includes strategies and actions.

Building on the work of our agencies and attractions

Ontario’s agencies and attractions undertake their own processes to respond to changes that affect their mandates. For example, two of our granting partners have completed planning and redesign processes recently. The Ontario Arts Council, our principal conduit for support to artists and the broader arts sector, launched its new strategic plan in 2014.footnote 17 The Ontario Trillium Foundation introduced its new investment strategy in 2015, focusing on six action areas to improve and enrich people’s lives.footnote 18 The Culture Strategy builds on and complements these initiatives, as well as the business planning work of all of our partner agencies.

A vision for culture in Ontario

An Ontario where every person has the opportunity for creative expression and cultural participation, and where the diversity of our stories and communities is reflected, valued and celebrated, now and as part of our legacy to future generations.

Principles to guide government support for culture

Creativity and innovation

Culture exposes us to new ideas and inspires new ways of thinking. Support for culture should help to nourish and reward creativity, exploration, experimentation and innovation.

Quality of life and economic development

Culture contributes significantly to both quality of life and economic development in Ontario. Support for culture should help to enrich our lives, strengthen and animate our communities and build a dynamic business environment in Ontario.

Diversity and inclusion

Ontario’s rich diversity is one of our greatest strengths. We should all have the opportunity to participate in Ontario’s diverse cultural life, regardless of age, background, language, ability or where we live in the province. Support for culture should recognize people with disabilities and people who are Deaf as cultural and linguistic communities with unique identities, experiences and values.

Respect for Indigenous peoples

Indigenous cultures, languages and heritage represent distinct identities, histories and ways of life. Ontario is committed to reconciliation by strengthening and transforming its relationship with Indigenous communities and by implementing changes that reflect Indigenous priorities.

Collaboration and partnerships

The talents and contributions of many people and organizations make our culture sector strong and vibrant. Support for culture should encourage collaboration and partnerships among provincial ministries and agencies; municipal, provincial/territorial, federal and Indigenous partners; not-for-profit arts and culture organizations; the private sector; and all communities and individuals.

Public value and accountability

Government investment in culture should be guided by what Ontarians value and by what makes a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities. This ministry, its agencies and the organizations we fund are accountable for achieving the best possible outcomes within available resources.

Goal 1: Promote cultural engagement and inclusion

Focus on removing barriers and increasing opportunities for cultural participation

Our first goal flows directly from our vision for culture — an Ontario where every person has the opportunity for creative expression and cultural participation.

In our engagement process, we heard from members of some communities who still experience barriers to accessing culture funding and to participating fully in the cultural life of our province, including people from Indigenous, Francophone, and ethno-cultural communities, people with disabilities, people who are Deaf, and people living in rural and remote areas of the province. We need to do better at removing barriers and increasing opportunities for everyone.

There are many inclusive practices that we can learn from and build on. The following are just a few examples from our agencies and attractions to show the range of programs aimed at reaching out to and including all of Ontario’s communities:

  • the Ontario Heritage Trust has created an online gallery and educational resources to promote greater understanding of Franco-Ontarian heritage
  • the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum have recently partnered with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship to pilot their Ahlan welcome program which connects newcomers with cultural attractions, experiences and people in their communitiesfootnote 19
  • Science North delivers science programs for Northern and Indigenous communities, including five remote communities it serves by chartered plane through a partnership with Northern Nishnawbe Education Council
  • in 2015-16, the Ontario Arts Council established its first Deaf and Disability Arts Projects program to support projects by artists who are Deaf or who have a disability
  • the McMichael Canadian Art Collection developed and shared its guide, “The Art of Inclusion,” a seven-step process for designing and delivering accessible programs in arts and culture organizations

Active engagement with arts and culture has enormous benefits for people of all abilities and at all stages of life. During Culture Talks, parents, educators and many others stressed the importance of arts and culture in education, not only for their intrinsic value but also for their role in developing critical and creative thinking skills that support success in school, in life and in the future workforce. The arts also provide engaging and innovative ways to teach many other subjects, including math and science.

The Ministry of Education is an important partner in providing opportunities for cultural engagement for children and youth — from its guiding document for early years curriculum developmentfootnote 20 and its policy for French-language schoolsfootnote 21 to the provincial curriculum (Kindergarten to Grade 12), which provides a foundation for appreciation of arts and culture, to the Pathways to Success program for high school students who want to build careers in culture.footnote 22 The ministry’s renewed vision for education promotes a learning environment that respects and values Ontario’s cultural diversity, creating a space where diversity is recognized as a contributor to success. In collaboration with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and education partners, the Ministry of Education is also developing a plan to incorporate Indigenous histories and cultures into the mandatory public education curriculum.footnote 23

Ontario’s agencies and attractions offer a wide range of programs to complement the school curriculum and programs. The Ontario Arts Council supports arts programming and activities in school and community settings through its Artists in Education, Aboriginal Artists in Schools, Artists in Residence (Education), and Arts Education Projects and Organizations programs. The Royal Ontario Museum’s Youth Cabinet brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to develop online museum content. The Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service - North coordinate Club Amick, a book club for First Nation children attending Kindergarten to Grade 6 in Ontario’s remote communities.

Museums, galleries, public libraries and other arts and culture organizations also provide engaging educational and intergenerational learning experiences, co-op placements, summer employment and volunteer opportunities for people of all ages. The availability of arts and culture activities helps to build age-friendly communities. For seniors, there is a strong connection between cultural engagement and general well-being and active living.

Over the next two decades, Ontario will experience a large demographic shift, with the number of seniors expected to double by 2036.footnote 24 The Ontario government has been working with agencies, stakeholders, regions and municipalities to create initiatives to support older adults to remain active contributors to the cultural life of our communities.

We are also working on laying the foundation for developing a more formal and lasting relationship with Indigenous communities to engage on a broad range of cultural interests and priorities. We want to open up a meaningful dialogue to explore together how we can support Indigenous cultures, nourish cultural vitality and promote the contributions of Indigenous cultures to all Ontarians and the world. We also want to help facilitate stronger relationships between Indigenous communities and museums and other culture organizations.

This goal reflects our commitment to inclusion with strategies to further reduce barriers and encourage greater participation in culture by all communities, inspire the next generation, and strengthen our relationship with Indigenous communities.

Strategy 1– Reduce barriers and encourage greater participation in culture

  • bring together Ontario government granting partners to share best practices and increase access and inclusion throughout the application and assessment process, and ensure that representatives of communities who may face barriers to accessing culture funding are actively involved in the discussions, including Indigenous, Francophone and ethno-cultural communities, people with disabilities and people who are Deaf, and people living in rural and remote areas
  • continue to support culture agencies, organizations and other partners to remove barriers for people with disabilities and people who are Deaf to increase opportunities for creation and participation in arts and culture
  • identify and promote ways to increase opportunities for Ontario’s seniors to engage with arts and culture in their communities in many different ways, including as artists, mentors, volunteers and participants

Strategy 2 – Inspire the next generation and help youth build careers in the culture sector

  • continue to identify and promote opportunities for collaboration and partnerships between the culture and education sectors to increase opportunities for participation in arts and culture and learning through the arts
  • develop a new fund to support publishers in creating curriculum-linked learning resources aimed at fostering the use of diverse Canadian content in schools
  • build new community partnerships to support high school students interested in further learning or exploring careers in arts and culture by offering more Specialist High Skills Major and co-op placements, dual credit programs and other opportunities available through the Ministry of Education’s Pathways to Success program
  • continue to support Ontario’s culture agencies, attractions and organizations in offering opportunities for children and youth to engage with arts and culture and in promoting youth engagement in the heritage sector
  • support youth cultural camps in Indigenous communities to build leadership and promote awareness of traditional knowledge and languages through daily hands-on activities

Strategy 3 – Strengthen our relationships with Indigenous communities and work toward reconciliation

  • in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, establish an ongoing dialogue to address shared culture priorities, such as preservation of Indigenous cultural heritage and languages and participation in all aspects of Ontario’s cultural life
  • help facilitate cross-cultural understanding between First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and museums and other culture organizations to create stronger relationships and partnerships
  • provide an Indigenous Cultural Revitalization Fund to support cultural activities in Indigenous communities, with the goals of revitalizing cultural practices, raising awareness of the vitality of Indigenous cultures in Ontario and promoting reconciliation

Expected results

  • there will be fewer barriers to accessing culture funding
  • people of all ages and abilities will have more opportunities to engage with arts and culture
  • youth will have more information and supports available to help them pursue careers in the culture sector
  • there will be stronger relationships between Indigenous communities, the province and culture organizations to support Indigenous culture priorities

Goal 2: Strengthen culture in communities

Focus on strengthening community-based arts, culture and heritage

This goal focuses on strengthening culture where most of us experience it — close to home, in our communities. The places we live are one type of community. Other communities are formed by the bonds people share through history and identity.

Municipalities are key partners in supporting local arts, culture and heritage. Over the past decade, 69 municipalities, representing nearly three-quarters of Ontario’s population, have developed cultural plans to integrate culture into local decision-making and help achieve broader priorities like creating jobs and promoting tourism. Some First Nations and Métis communities have also identified and documented their cultural resources and developed cultural plans to help preserve and revitalize their distinct heritage and languages.

Municipalities play a key role in preserving our cultural heritage. Under the Ontario Heritage Act, they designate properties or areas that are of value to their communities to conserve them for future generations. Under provincial planning legislation, municipalities protect cultural heritage and archaeological sites and must consider the interests of Indigenous communities in the process.

Archaeological sites can include the remains of Indigenous settlements, battlefields such as those from the War of 1812, pioneer settlements and shipwrecks. More than 80 per cent of Ontario’s archaeological sites are Indigenous in origin and some sites are more than 10,000 years old. Archaeological artifacts like fragments of pottery and stone, arrowheads and pipes tell us a great deal about the lives of the people who left them behind.

All of Ontario’s culture agencies support cultural vitality in communities through programs for all ages: the Ontario Trillium Foundation invests in community-based initiatives to enrich people’s lives through arts, culture and heritage; the Ontario Heritage Trust identifies, protects, renews and promotes Ontario’s heritage in all its forms — cultural and natural, tangible and intangible; and the Ontario Arts Council supports and nourishes professional artists and arts organizations in communities throughout the province. Its programs also focus on underserved or underrepresented communities, including Northern, Indigenous and Francophone communities, youth, artists who are Deaf, artists with disabilities and arts professionals of colour.footnote 25

This goal complements the work of our agencies by focusing on public libraries, First Nation public libraries and heritage organizations, which the ministry funds directly. It aims to build the capacity of all not-for-profit arts and culture organizations and to continue supporting the volunteers who dedicate their time to sustaining culture.

Our 265 public libraries and 45 First Nation public libraries serve over 99 per cent of Ontario’s population. They are supported by the Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service - North, which provide coordination, training and program delivery. In addition to making printed and digital resources available, public libraries have become essential spaces for access to cultural experiences, technology and community life. Libraries offer important services like education opportunities, employment and small business support, newcomer programs and access to government information.

Community museums, historical societies, historic sites, archives and other heritage organizations conserve and promote our cultural heritage through their collections, interpretive displays and diverse programming. They act as research centres and community spaces for public education, dialogue and knowledge-sharing. Ontario has museums devoted to science and technology, television, planes, trains, fashion, textiles, shoes, canoes, dance, theatre, sports and more.

This goal also recognizes that sharing and celebrating our diverse cultures enrich our lives, build cross-cultural understanding, and encourage us to take pride in where we live and what we have accomplished together. An example on a grand scale is the arts and culture festival that accompanied the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Over 38 days, more than 1.4 million residents and visitors participated in arts and culture events, including music, theatre, dance, visual arts and fashion.

Ontario’s culture and tourism attractions like the Art Gallery of Ontario, Huronia Historical Parks and Fort William Historical Park work with Indigenous partners to deliver compelling programming for residents and visitors. They help increase our understanding of Indigenous histories and cultures and celebrate the vitality of Indigenous artistic expressions, including modern Indigenous music and visual arts. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants in our engagement process called for more opportunities to learn about and appreciate Indigenous cultures.

This goal builds on the work of our agencies and attractions and many other partners and organizations. Its strategies aim to strengthen community-based culture organizations, conserve and promote Ontario’s diverse cultural heritage, and connect people and communities through sharing and celebrating our diverse heritage and cultures.

Strategy 1 – Help build strong community-based culture organizations

  • work with government partners and culture stakeholders to maximize the use of public libraries, museums, galleries and other culture facilities as community hubs and explore opportunities to integrate arts and culture activities and spaces into schools and other community facilities
  • review and update provincial funding programs for public libraries to build the capacity of libraries serving rural and remote communities, improve digital services and support leadership and innovation
  • work with First Nation public libraries to better understand their unique needs and identify opportunities for responding through improved supports
  • review and update provincial funding programs for community museums and heritage organizations to build capacity, strengthen leadership and support more diverse organizations
  • collaborate on the continued implementation of the Ontario Volunteer Action Planfootnote 26 and promote the Partnership Grant Program,footnote 27 which helps build the capacity of the not-for-profit sector, including arts and culture organizations

Strategy 2 – Conserve and promote Ontario’s diverse cultural heritage

  • help heritage property owners use clean, low carbon technologies, and enable the province to develop and share expertise on heritage and energy conservation, by leveraging opportunities for energy efficiency improvements through Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan
  • provide online access to information about Ontario’s cultural heritage, including designated heritage properties and provincial heritage properties
  • develop additional tools to help communities identify and protect their cultural heritage, including guidance on cultural heritage landscapes, cultural planning, and the interests of Indigenous communities in conserving cultural heritage, to support municipalities in implementing the Provincial Policy Statement (2014)footnote 28
  • work with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and heritage organizations to support local archives to promote, preserve and facilitate access to Ontario’s diverse documentary memory for current and future generations
  • work with Indigenous partners, archaeologists, museums and other stakeholders to develop a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts so that current and future generations can learn about and understand our past
  • review the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists to reflect the evolving practice of archaeology in land use and development contexts, including the engagement of Indigenous communities and the care of artifacts

Strategy 3 – Connect people and communities by sharing and celebrating our diverse heritage and cultures

  • bring together culture and tourism agencies and attractions and Indigenous partners to increase public awareness and understanding of Indigenous histories, cultural heritage, knowledge and ongoing contributions to arts and culture in Ontario
  • collaborate with sport and recreation partners to explore more opportunities to integrate cultural engagement into community recreation and sport, and to encourage cultural celebrations as a part of multi-sport games held in Ontario
  • celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with special programming through our culture agencies, all year long, to highlight the important role of arts and culture in the rich history of our province and our country
  • continue to engage with the Government of Québec to facilitate and foster information exchanges, work collaboratively on common issues and develop joint projects under the Agreement for Cooperation on Culture between the Government of Ontario and the Government of Québec relating to the arts, cultural industries,footnote 29 public libraries and heritage

Expected results

  • there will be more recognition and use of public libraries and other culture facilities as community hubs
  • Ontarians will gain greater understanding of cultural heritage conservation and there will be more tools to assist in conserving Ontario’s unique cultural heritage
  • funding will be targeted to support a greater diversity of organizations and key priorities (e.g., digital services)
  • cultural heritage conservation will be more inclusive of Indigenous communities and perspectives
  • Ontarians will be more aware of Indigenous contributions to arts and culture in the province

Goal 3: Fuel the creative economy

Focus on maximizing the contributions of the creative economy to Ontario’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity

All parts of Ontario’s culture sector contribute to a strong creative economy: professional artists; the cultural industries (including film and television production, interactive digital media, music recording and performance, and book and magazine publishing); the wider creative industries (like architecture, design, fashion, advertising, broadcasting and industries that support them); and Ontario’s cultural institutions, organizations, galleries, science centres, museums, heritage sites, festivals and events.

Companies and workers in the creative economy develop, create, produce, perform and present world-class work and compelling experiences, supply creative services or fill supporting knowledge-based roles. Their economic impact resonates throughout the province in the thriving interactive digital media sector in Southwestern Ontario, the vibrant fashion district in Toronto, the award-winning theatre community in Stratford and the growing film and television production industry in Sudbury.

Some components of the creative sector have a global reach, such as our entrepreneurial Ontario Science Centre and Science North, which have been exporting their creative services and products for more than two decades. To build on our success, we need to remain competitive nationally and grow the economic and cultural impact of our creative sector internationally.

The creative economy is expected to become even more important to Ontario’s prosperity as we continue to shift from a manufacturing and resource-based economy to one dependent on knowledge and innovation. Digital content is constantly evolving and introducing new possibilities, such as augmented and virtual reality. Digital technology and distribution are creating new opportunities for our artists and creative-sector entrepreneurs and transforming the traditional cultural industries.

Ontario’s postsecondary, training and research institutions, like Ocad University, York University’s 3D Film Innovation Consortium, the Canadian Film Centre, and Sheridan College with its Screen Industries Research and Training Centre partnership, lead the way in responding to these changes by incubating cutting-edge technologies and developing exceptional creative talent.

In the knowledge economy, people are Ontario’s most important resource. Now and for the future, we need a cultural workforce with the technical skills to address the challenges and maximize the opportunities presented by a global digital economy. Culture workers, whether they are independent artists, entrepreneurs or leaders of arts and culture organizations, also need business skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive arena. Ontario’s diversity is our key competitive strength and our cultural workforce must reflect our diversity by actively engaging members of Indigenous, ethno-cultural and Deaf and disability communities, as well as newcomers to Ontario.

Ontario is well positioned for success in this dynamic environment. The Ontario Arts Council provides funding to Ontario’s professional artists and arts organizations, supporting their contributions to the cultural vitality and economic prosperity of Ontario. Arts, culture and the creative industries are identified as a priority economic sector in the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporationfootnote 30 provides funding to film and television productions that create jobs and training opportunities for Northern residents.

The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) provides business development services and funding for growth for our cultural industries and seeks out investment opportunities for the province. It acts as the hub of Ontario’s creative economy, brokering international deals at OMDC's International Financing Forum during the Toronto International Film Festival, supporting industry-led initiatives like Interactive Ontario’s GameOn: Ventures, and Magazines Canada’s MagNet Conference, managing the Ontario Music Office and Ontario Film Commission, and celebrating Ontario authors through the annual Trillium Book Award and Prix Trillium. Ontario also offers over $400 million in cultural media tax credits to attract investment and jobs to our province and supports the wider creative industries through its broader economic agenda.

This goal builds on this support and on the work of many other partners and organizations. Its strategies focus on making Ontario a culture leader, at home and internationally, and on strengthening Ontario’s culture workforce.

Strategy 1 – Make Ontario a culture leader at home and internationally

  • with the permanent Ontario Music Fund as a foundation, continue to build Ontario as a leading North American centre for music production and performance, as well as spur music tourism by setting a vision and directions to further the development of the Ontario Live Music Strategy
  • continue to work with Ontario’s growing interactive digital media companies to build a globally competitive industry that can innovate and succeed in the next generation of interactive entertainment, including video games, augmented and virtual reality, mobile content and cross-platform storytelling
  • establish a public/private film and television industry advisory panel to examine priority issues facing the industry and collaborate on strategies to promote the growth, innovation and global expansion of Ontario’s film and television sector
  • help ensure Ontario’s competitiveness as a top production jurisdiction by modernizing the suite of tax credits for screen-based productions
  • seek opportunities to grow the culture sector within the framework of the Business Growth Initiative by working with partner ministries to foster innovation and help scale up companies:
    • explore the development of entrepreneurship and commercialization programs designed for the arts and cultural industries, including the promotion of partnerships between firms and across sectors to share risk and maximize expertise
    • explore the development of risk capital programs, designed with an entertainment focus, that reflect the business models and rapid product development cycles of the arts and cultural industries
    • attract investment that increases Ontario’s productivity, creativity and global competitiveness in the culture sector
    • explore opportunities to strengthen the use of design as a key competitive advantage in the knowledge economy, for example by promoting the application of design in manufacturing and technology
    • accelerate the creation and adoption of new disruptive technologiesfootnote 31 to strengthen the culture sector’s role in the knowledge economy
  • work with the Ministry of Infrastructure and other ministries to inform the development of a long-term infrastructure plan for Ontario to better understand and work toward addressing the needs of the culture sector
  • collaborate with government partners and the tourism industry to identify opportunities to grow cultural tourism in Ontario, including Francophone tourism and Indigenous-led tourism, and offer authentic and compelling visitor experiences
  • continue to engage with the federal government to help ensure the health of Ontario’s broadcasting and production industries

Strategy 2 – Strengthen Ontario’s culture workforce

  • develop a better understanding of the impact of the digital transformation on culture and as a first step work with partners to organize a digital culture symposium to bring together stakeholders from all culture sectors to share experiences and expertise, build capacity to address digital challenges and take advantage of new opportunities
  • increase awareness and uptake of the Canada-Ontario Job Grantfootnote 32 among employers in the culture sector to assist them in developing their workforces through employer-led digital skills and other training
  • help ensure that Ontario’s culture workforce is positioned to succeed in the knowledge economy by creating opportunities to enhance technical and business skills training and foster learning opportunities for arts and culture sector students and workers, for example through experiential learning, including internships and mentorships, and other forms of professional and skills development
  • explore ways for provincial and federal immigration programs to contribute to the growth and success of Ontario’s culture sector and eliminate barriers to the successful integration of cultural workers
  • engage federal, provincial and territorial culture partners on strategies to improve the socioeconomic status of artists and to improve support for culture-related infrastructure

Expected results

  • the Ontario government will develop more effective tools to help our culture sector compete in the digital world
  • there will be more opportunities for Ontario government/industry collaboration to drive cultural industry productivity, innovation and exports
  • there will be better coordination throughout the Ontario government to integrate the cultural industries into Ontario’s broader economic agenda
  • more Ontarians will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the creative economy

Goal 4: Promote the value of the arts throughout government

Focus on enhancing the profile of the arts sector across government for the benefit of the sector and all Ontarians

Jurisdictions around the world have recognized that, in addition to their important intrinsic value, the arts contribute to our lives and our communities in many other ways. Ontario has more than 58,000 professional artists working in over 200 communities across the province. We will promote the contributions of artists and the broader arts sector throughout the Ontario government with an Arts Policy Framework. The Framework will build on the Status of Ontario’s Artists Act, which recognizes artists’ invaluable contributions to Ontario’s economy, quality of life and sense of identity.

Ontario’s diverse arts sector comprises:

  • professional and amateur artists, including Indigenous and Francophone artists, artists who are Deaf and artists with disabilities
  • both not-for-profit and commercial arts organizations, including facilities such as theatres, galleries and studios
  • community arts councils and service and trade associations
  • disciplines such as dance, literary arts, music, theatre, visual arts, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, and new art forms and practices often inspired by digital possibilities
  • a large supporting workforce, including technicians, administrators, fundraisers, marketers and many others
  • thousands of volunteers who assist arts organizations and provide leadership as board members
  • arts educators and educational institutions and organizations

The Arts Policy Framework will help increase awareness within government of the size, scope and diversity of Ontario’s arts sector and of the many opportunities available to integrate the arts into a range of policy and program areas. In turn, this will create new opportunities for artists and arts organizations to engage with other sectors. The Framework will also encourage and support government ministries and agencies to consider the needs and potential contributions of artists and arts organizations when they develop or review policies and programs.

The Framework will provide a toolkit to all Ontario ministries and agencies that will include facts about Ontario’s arts sector, links to key sector organizations and associations, best practices and case studies, information on monitoring and measuring outcomes and links to additional resources.

One example of integrating the arts with other sectors is the Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario.footnote 33 The Ontario Women’s Directorate has partnered with the Ontario Arts Council to deliver the $2.25 million fund. Professional artists, not-for-profit community organizations and sexual violence experts are collaborating to address the issues at the heart of sexual violence and harassment. By stimulating discussion, transforming perspectives, and offering new tools to name and take action on sexual violence and harassment, the fund’s artistic projects will help us imagine a better and healthier future. These are three of the 11 successful applicants to date, announced in May 2016:

  • FESFO (Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne) is leading a project called “It’s Never Okay for Franco-Ontarian Youth,” a multidisciplinary arts program to engage Franco-Ontarian youth in dialogue and action on sexual violence and harassment
  • Lamphead is delivering a youth-led video animation project called “Get Consent” to explore the issue of consent and offer youth in downtown Toronto practical skills to make sure they have positive, healthy relationships
  • The Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society’s “Witness” project is exploring, through dance, video and theatre performances, the stories of refugee women who have experienced sexual violence

Strategy – Inspire greater integration of the arts into public policy and programs

  • develop an Arts Policy Framework in collaboration with Ontario’s culture agencies, actively promote the Framework to government ministries and agencies and monitor how well it is working

Expected results

  • the Arts Policy Framework will be a catalyst for creative and innovative integration of the arts to advance Ontario’s social and economic objectives
  • awareness of Ontario’s diverse arts community will be increased within the Ontario government and its agencies
  • Ontario government ministries and agencies will have more tools to consider the needs and contributions of artists and arts organizations in their policies and programs
  • artists and arts organizations will have new opportunities to engage with other sectors in government

Moving forward

Implementing the Culture Strategy

The Culture Strategy contains actions to guide the government’s support for culture over the next five years. We can implement some actions in the short term, within the next one to two years. Two examples are bringing together government granting partners to share best practices and increase access and inclusion (Goal 1) and working with First Nation public libraries to better understand their unique needs (Goal 2).

Others actions will take longer because they require more input from partner ministries, agencies and stakeholders, engagement with Indigenous partners and communities and other levels of government, or policy and program development. Examples include developing a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts (Goal 2) and seeking opportunities to grow the culture sector within the framework of the Business Growth Initiative (Goal 3).

In the next phase of this initiative, we will develop a plan to guide the implementation of the Culture Strategy and track our progress in meeting its commitments.

Measuring and reporting on progress

The expected results for each goal in the Culture Strategy provide a broad idea of what we want to achieve. As we implement the Strategy, we will develop objectives that are more specific, along with performance measures for individual actions. In five years, we will publish a special progress report on the implementation of the Culture Strategy. This will allow us to take stock of what we have accomplished and what we still need to achieve.

Our agencies undertake their own planning processes to respond to changes and emerging needs and set their courses for the future. The Ontario Arts Council’s “Vital Arts and Public Value: A Blueprint for 2014-2020” and the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s new investment strategy, mentioned earlier, are two examples. All provincial agencies report on their activities through business plans, financial reports and annual reports. In addition, all agencies’ mandates undergo review at least every seven years to ensure that they are consistent with government priorities and policy objectives.

Continuing the dialogue

The Culture Strategy public engagement process began a conversation about the future of arts and culture in Ontario. Implementation of the Strategy will establish new channels of communication to continue the dialogue.

We will seek input from stakeholders and Indigenous partners about proposed changes at key implementation points, such as when we review funding programs and when we develop a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts.

New avenues for in-depth discussion introduced in the Strategy include the public/private advisory panel to examine priority issues facing the film and television industry and an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous communities to address culture priorities.

Opportunities to collaborate, learn, exchange ideas and share expertise are other important ways for us to continue the dialogue and stimulate action. Culture and tourism agencies and attractions and Indigenous partners will explore ways to raise public awareness about Indigenous histories and contributions to arts and culture and the digital symposium for the culture sector will focus on sharing knowledge and strategies.

We learned a great deal through Culture Talks. As we implement Ontario’s Culture Strategy, continuing the dialogue will assist us in achieving the goals Ontarians helped us set. We will engage a great many individuals, partners, organizations and communities in that dialogue. We hope that by encouraging and facilitating broader collaboration and partnerships, the Culture Strategy will be a catalyst for renewed creative and economic energy in the culture sector and in communities across Ontario.

Appendix: Support for culture by the Ontario government (not in the pdf)

This selection of initiatives and programs demonstrates the intersection of culture with many other ministry mandates.

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport:

  • Arts: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s primary vehicles for supporting the arts are its funding agencies, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). In addition, MTCS established, and remains the primary investor in, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (OCAF), a special-purpose body providing event marketing expertise and partially-repayable loans to organizations of all sizes to help them develop, promote, and present high-profile cultural tourism events and exhibitions. Over the years, MTCS has also made strategic capital investments in arts facilities around the province.
  • Cultural industries: The Ministry works to build Ontario’s creative economy by supporting a dynamic business environment for the cultural industries. MTCS’s agency, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), administers provincial tax credits and provides essential business development services and funding for content creation and monetization. The music sector receives support through the (OMDC-administered Ontario Music Fund and the Ontario Live Music Strategy, a collaborative industry and government initiative aimed at growing and promoting the province’s live music industry. The Ministry engages with the federal government to advocate for a supportive federal environment for Ontario’s cultural industries and has made strategic investments in key industry events and institutions, such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Canadian Film Centre.
  • Public Libraries: The Ministry supports Ontario’s public and First Nation public libraries through legislation, funding and other services. The Public Libraries Act enables municipalities to establish public libraries and ensures that services remain free. The Ministry provides annual operating grants to all public libraries, salary supplement grants to First Nation public libraries and targeted funding for key priorities such as digital services and alternative format materials for people with print disabilities. The Ministry also provides support through the Ontario Library Service agencies, which help to increase cooperation and coordination among public library boards and provide training and development services, as well as other key programs. Through the Annual Survey of Public Libraries, the Ministry provides the sector with important statistical information, such as data on the ways in which Ontarians use library resources and services. As well, the Ministry recognizes innovative, dynamic and modern public library services through the annual Public Library Service Awards.
  • Cultural heritage: The Ontario Heritage Act sets out provincial and municipal roles in heritage conservation, and establishes a framework for licensing archaeologists. The Ministry supports the sector by providing technical advice to municipalities, land use planners, consultant archaeologists and heritage professionals, and maintaining databases on archaeological sites and provincial heritage properties. The Ministry also provides operating funding to community museums, historical societies and heritage organizations to promote public awareness of Ontario’s rich and diverse heritage. The Ontario Heritage Trust, the lead heritage agency for the Ministry, acquires property and enters into conservation easements, provides education about heritage through their museum sites, and promotes cultural heritage conservation through their various awards and plaque programs.
  • Cultural Tourism: The Tourism Division supports cultural tourism development through the delivery of the Celebrate Ontario program and Tourism Development Fund. Celebrate Ontario provides project-based programming and marketing funding to new or existing Ontario events to enhance programs, activities and services that lead to long-term improvements, sustainability and the attraction of additional tourists. The Tourism Development Fund provides project-based funding to initiatives that encourage tourism investment, tourism product development and industry capacity building. Through a regional tourism approach, the Ministry provides annual funding to 13 Regional Tourism Organizations that support marketing and product development through local partnerships and collaboration.

Partner ministries:

  • Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides ongoing support to publically assisted colleges and universities, and other providers of postsecondary education, including the many Ontario institutions offering undergraduate and graduate programs in disciplines such as the arts, film, animation, digital media, arts and media management, library and museum studies and heritage conservation. The Ministry also delivers the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, which provides financial support to organizations and businesses, including those in the culture sector, who wish to purchase training to develop their workforces. Ontario’s Aboriginal Education Strategy supports Indigenous learner achievement and raises awareness about First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples’ cultures, histories, and perspectives.
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has invested in cultural heritage projects and downtown revitalization through its various funding programs, including the Rural Economic Development Fund and the Downtown Revitalization Program.
  • Ministry of Children and Youth Services supports improved mental health and social and economic well-being of youth in Ontario, particularly for youth facing barriers. A number of programs promote youth engagement with culture. For example, the Ministry offers programming that helps connect youth in the justice system to cultural activities in support of improved outcomes and well-being.
  • Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration is responsible for the Ontario Volunteer Action Plan and volunteer recognition programs that celebrate the accomplishments of volunteers in the not-for-profit sector, including in cultural organizations. Its Partnership Grant Program supports collaborative projects designed to build capacity in the sector. This Ministry also provides immigration programs to attract and integrate skilled workers.
  • Ministry of Community and Social Services, together with Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Children and Youth Services, Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario Women’s Directorate provides funding to community-based programs and services under the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy. The strategy seeks to reduce family violence and to improve Indigenous healing, health and wellness. Designed and delivered by and for Indigenous peoples, the programs incorporate traditional cultural practices. The Ministry also provides income and employment support to people with disabilities and their families through the Ontario Disability Support Program as well as financial assistance for developmental services and programs that support inclusion for adults with a developmental disability and their families. These programs support people to prepare for, find and maintain employment, including employment in the arts and culture sector.
  • The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth delivers a range of programs, services and tools to help businesses innovate and compete in today’s fast-changing global economy, including business support, youth entrepreneurship programs and strategic investments. The Ministry also helps make investing in Ontario more attractive for businesses, while protecting the public interest. The Ministry is currently leading the Business Growth Initiative (BGI), the government’s new strategy to increase Ontario’s global competitiveness in the knowledge economy. Through the BGI, the Ministry aims to support leading high-growth firms across Ontario’s priority sectors, including Information and Communications technology (ICT) and digital media, to help these companies grow both within the Province and globally. The Ministry also funds 57 Small Business Enterprise Centres, often located in public libraries, which gives local artists and cultural entrepreneurs access to tools they need to start and grow their businesses.
  • Ministry of Education supports all learners in developing the skills and knowledge that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens. The Ministry establishes the curriculum for early learning and the Kindergarten Program, and for all subjects and courses, including arts, taught in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario. Its vision statement includes promoting the value of the arts in developing critical and creative thinking skills that support success in school and in life. High school students can explore options for careers in arts and culture through programs such as the Specialist High Skills Major Program, the School-Work Transition Program and other cooperative education opportunities.
  • Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change defines cultural heritage as an aspect of the environment. It provides mechanisms for the conservation of heritage through the environmental assessment and renewable energy approvals processes. The Ministry also recognizes the links between the conservation of heritage buildings and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
  • Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is responsible for administering the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002. War graves and cemeteries are part of the province’s cultural heritage and landscape, and burial sites often provide important information about early Indigenous history. The Ministry is also responsible for the Archives of Ontario. The Archives collect, preserve and provide access to provincially significant archival records and library publications and administers the Government of Ontario Art Collection. Through its educational and exhibit programming and public services, the Archives engage with local archives, museums, historical societies, libraries, artists and other cultural producers and educators.
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care supports the delivery of public health programs and services, and culturally appropriate diabetes prevention and management services for First Nation communities that incorporate traditional practices and cultural teachings. These include use of traditional dance as part of physical activity programs, preparation of traditional foods, culturally adapted tools and resources, and information about traditional use of tobacco in smoking prevention campaigns.
  • Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation is working with partner ministries to implement The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. There are five themes in this plan, including Supporting Indigenous Cultural Revitalization. Initiatives under this theme will support Indigenous languages and culture, promote the celebration of Indigenous culture, and focus on supports for youth identity and resiliency. This Ministry also provides grants and programs that promote economic development and build the capacity of Indigenous communities to consult with governments on land and resource decisions, including where they may impact burial sites or sites of cultural interest.
  • Ministry of International Trade provides assistance to small and medium sized enterprises in all Ontario industries, including our cultural industries, with exporting and expanding into international markets.
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs is responsible for the administration of the Provincial Policy Statement, the Places to Grow Act, the Planning Act and Ontario’s Building Code, which include provisions to conserve cultural heritage and archaeological resources. The Provincial Policy Statement 2014 promotes municipal planning tools, such as archaeological management plans and cultural plans, and recognizes the interests of Indigenous communities in conserving cultural heritage resources. The policies in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario also promote the conservation and stewardship of cultural heritage and archaeological resources.
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for legislation and policy that protect cultural heritage resources on Crown lands. The Far North Act provides the foundation for joint land use planning with the First Nations in the Far North to support the protection of areas of cultural value through community-based land use plans. The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 protects provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage by establishing and managing provincial parks and conservation reserves. The Public Lands Act provides broad legislative authority for the management, administration and land use planning of Crown lands.
  • Ministry of Northern Development and Mines supports the development of arts, culture and creative industries in Northern Ontario as one of the 11 key sectors identified in the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. It also provides funding to these 11 sectors, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, to encourage infrastructure, capacity building, business start-ups and expansions, and film and television productions that have direct benefit to Northern communities and encourage job creation and training opportunities for Northern residents.
  • Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science encourages investment in the cultural industries; for example, by supporting video game and animation/special effects ventures. It also offers a wide range of programs, resources and services to support entrepreneurs, such as the provincially-led Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), a network of over 130 organizations and post-secondary institutions dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs across all sectors, stages and sizes. This program offers grants to qualifying clients that encourage (youth) employment and entrepreneurship in the cultural industries. The Ministry also funds 18 Regional Innovation Centres supporting innovation and technology-based entrepreneurs
  • Ministry of Transportation, as part of its highway capital program, ensures that all necessary stages of archaeological survey, investigation and mitigation, as well as built heritage assessments, are completed for transportation projects, as required by the Ontario Heritage Act. The Ministry also manages heritage bridges and has a policy that promotes local heritage/cultural sites that qualify under the Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing program.

Ministry directorates and secretariats:

  • The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. Through the EnAbling Change Program, the directorate develops strategic partnerships with key sector associations to educate their member organizations on requirements under the Act, cultivate accessibility champions and promote a cultural shift toward greater inclusion. For example, the directorate has partnered with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ontario Historical Society and Ontario Library Association to help make culture services and programs more accessible.
  • The Cabinet Office Community Hubs Secretariat is working with stakeholders and partners across government to implement Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. The report presents 27 recommendations on how Ontario can support community hub development. It describes community hubs as “a central access point for a range of needed health and social services, along with cultural, recreational, and green spaces to nourish community life.”
  • Office of Francophone Affairs works together with ministries to ensure that the French Language Services Act is applied. The office is committed to ensuring that Francophones have access to provincial government services in French and that they can participate in the social, economic and political life of the province, while maintaining their linguistic and cultural heritage.
  • Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat values and supports the relationship between cultural engagement and the fulfillment and well-being of Ontario’s growing senior population. Through programs such as Elderly Person Centres, Seniors Community Grants and the Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program, the secretariat provides funding that recognizes the important role for culture in the development of age-friendly communities, planning processes and programs.
  • Ontario Women’s Directorate has partnered with the Ontario Arts Council to deliver the three-year Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario, which supports artistic projects that will provoke public dialogue and action on issues such as consent, rape culture and gender equality.