PASO-OPSA Coalition Identifies Provincial Arts & Culture Policy Priorities

ArtsBuild Ontario is a member of  PASO-OPSA , a coalition of Ontario Arts Service Organizations that, collectively, acts as a conduit to over 272,000 creative workers, and artists across the province, as well as to thousands of organizations, large and small, that create and support artistic expression in Ontario.

The coalition has collectively identified key priorities for Ontario’s arts sector around which it is aligned, and will champion, as we move though the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, PASO-OPSA recommends that the Government of Ontario:

1. Commit to Truth and Reconciliation in arts and culture.

The Government of Ontario should establish a permanent $10 million annual fund for Indigenous artists, cultural leaders, organizations, groups and collectives that is designed and managed by Indigenous artists.

2. Increase investment in the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).

Funding for the OAC has fallen dangerously behind the growth of the sector. When inflation and population growth are taken into account, to simply keep in line with 1991 investment levels, the OAC requires a permanent base budget of $110 million in 2022. In 2021, the OAC’s base budget was $60 million.

3. Embrace the role of the arts in a range of areas of provincial jurisdiction, and facilitate connections between ministries to accomplish this.

The Government of Ontario should leverage the powerful creative and innovation assets of Ontario’s arts community by acknowledging its contributions to, and ability to advance, fields such as health, mental health, education, entrepreneurship, and to engage with other sectors to address crises such as systemic racism, and others.

4. Ensure that anti-racism, and principles of fairness and justice, are embedded in all provincial programs and services.

This includes: recognizing that artists who identify as members of equity-seeking groups, as well as grassroots arts initiatives, have disproportionately faced systemic barriers to accessing support, and require low-barrier and accessible funding; working in partnership with arts organizations to hear and learn from smaller grassroots arts and cultural initiatives with the intention of informing the development of province’s arts and cultural priorities and policies. The next Government of Ontario can ensure the Ontario Human Rights Code is being upheld by evaluating the systemic barriers and exclusions that exist in, and may be perpetuated by, its investments and programs.

5. Foster the advancement of young people to participate, and provide vision and leadership in the arts.

This includes: mentorship opportunities for new-generation artists and cultural leaders, intergenerational connections between established and emerging arts leaders; supporting connections between grassroots groups and major institutions that encourage learning and transformation for all participants.

6. Work towards reducing Ontario’s carbon emissions and environmental impact.

The Government of Ontario should acknowledge that reducing emissions requires not only policy and legislation, but large-scale cultural and paradigm shifts by investing in cross-sectoral collaborations between the arts sector and Indigenous communities, climate researchers, social and behavioural scientists, industry leaders, organizations advancing awareness of environmental issues, and others. This also includes supporting the arts and culture sector to research, design, and implement sustainable and energy efficient venues and buildings; and develop strategies for sustainable touring and large-scale production.

7. Recognize the need for, and current lack of, appropriate physical and digital infrastructure.

This includes: establishing a permanent funding program to support renovations, capital projects, and new builds for arts and culture organizations. This program should also provide grants for organizations and smaller groups to support short term access to space, support the capacity of organizations to digitize collections and present digitally, and support upskilling and training. The government must also address the lack of broadband internet access which disproportionately impacts Northern Ontario communities.

8. Increase investment in arts education in Ontario’s publicly-funded schools.

The Government of Ontario should engage arts sector stakeholders to maintain, design, and update curricula that is contemporary and relevant to Ontario’s diverse population, and ensure sufficient physical and human resources are in place to deliver them. It should also investigate the current disparities in publicly-funded specialized arts schools, and ensure equitable access for racialized students and students from low-income households.

9. Amplify the majority of Ontarians’ voices by working toward a Federal Basic Income Guarantee.

This includes: advocating and working with the Federal Government on the development and implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee; shifting existing provincial income support systems toward Basic Income principles that require less conditionality and provide recipients with more autonomy; implement an Ontario Basic Income demonstration program targeting low-income artists, gig-workers, and other precariously employed Ontarians for inclusion.

We are available to provide additional details on each of this recommendations, and we encourage the Government of Ontario to work in concert with PASO/OPSA members to envision the path forward for Ontario’s vibrant arts community.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Samilski, Managing Director, CARFAC Ontario |

PASO/OPSA Coalition Members

  • Alliance culturelle de l‘Ontario
  • Artist-Run Centres & Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO)
  • ArtsBuild Ontario
  • Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français
  • Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM)
  • Association for Opera in Canada
  • Bureau des regroupements des artistes visuels de l’Ontario (BRAVO)
  • Canadian Alliance of Artists – East Chapter
  • Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC Ontario)
  • Canadian Music Centre
  • Choirs Ontario
  • Craft Ontario
  • Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO)
  • Dance Ontario
  • Dance Umbrella of Ontario
  • Directors Guild of Canada (Ontario)
  • Folk Music Ontario
  • FUSION – The Ontario Clay and Glass Association
  • Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG)
  • Ontario Culture Days
  • Ontario Presents
  • The Association for Opera in Canada (
  • Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada
  • Réseau Ontario
  • Théâtre Action
  • Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)
  • WorkInCulture