Provincial Arts Service Organizations/Organisations Provinciale de Services aux Arts de l’Ontario (PASO-OPSA) is 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.

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

For more information, please contact paso.opsa@gmail.com

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Provincial Arts Service Organizations of Ontario/Organisations Provinciale de Services aux Arts de l’Ontario (PASO/OPSA), une coalition d’organismes de services aux arts de l’Ontario qui, collectivement, agit comme intermédiaire pour plus de plus de 272 000 travailleurs créatifs et artistes à travers la province, ainsi que des milliers d’organismes, petits et grands, qui créent et soutiennent l’expression artistique en Ontario.

La coalition a collectivement identifié des priorités clés pour le secteur des arts de l’Ontario, autour desquelles elle s’aligne et qu’elle soutiendra activement au fur et à mesure que nous progressons dans la pandémie de la COVID-19. Ainsi, la PASO-OPSA recommande au gouvernement de l’Ontario de:

  1. S’engager en faveur de la vérité et réconciliation dans les arts et la culture.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait créer un fonds annuel permanent de 10 millions de dollars pour les artistes, les leaders culturels, les organisations, les groupes et les collectifs Autochtones, conçu et géré par des artistes Autochtones.

 

  1. Augmenter l’investissement dans le Conseil des arts de l’Ontario (CAO).

Le financement du CAO a dangereusement pris du retard par rapport à la croissance du secteur. Si l’on tient compte de l’inflation et de la croissance de la population, pour simplement demeurer au niveau d’investissement de 1991, le CAO nécessite un budget de base permanent de 110 millions de dollars en 2022. En 2021, le budget de base de la CAO était de 60 millions de dollars

 

  1. Reconnaître le rôle des arts dans de nombreux domaines de compétence provinciale et faciliter les échanges inter-ministériels à cette fin.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait mettre à profit les atouts considérables de la communauté artistique de l’Ontario en matière de création et d’innovation en reconnaissant sa capacité et ses contributions à l’avancement des domaines tels que la santé, la santé mentale, l’éducation et l’entrepreneuriat, et faire appel à la collaboration entre secteurs pour résoudre des problématiques telles que le racisme systémique, entre autres.

 

  1. S’assurer que l’antiracisme et les principes d’équité et de justice sont intégrés dans tous les programmes et services provinciaux.

Cela comprend : la reconnaissance du fait que les artistes qui s’identifient comme membres de groupes marginalisés, ainsi que les programmes artistiques communautaires, ont été confrontés de façon disproportionnée à des obstacles systémiques à l’accès au soutien, et nécessitent un financement plus accessible et à faible barrière. Le gouvernement doit travailler en partenariat avec des organismes artistiques afin d’apprendre des plus petites organisations communautaires et culturelles dans le but d’informer le développement des priorités et des politiques artistiques et culturelles de la province. Le prochain gouvernement de l’Ontario peut s’assurer que le Code des droits de la personne de l’Ontario est respecté en évaluant les obstacles et les exclusions systémiques qui existent dans ses investissements et ses programmes et qui peuvent être perpétués par ceux-ci. 

 

  1. Favoriser l’avancement des jeunes afin qu’ils puissent contribuer et offrir un nouveau point de vue et du leadership dans les arts.

Cela comprend : des possibilités de mentorat pour les artistes et les leaders culturels de la nouvelle génération, des contacts intergénérationnels entre les leaders artistiques établis et émergents, le soutien des échanges entre les groupes communautaires et les grandes institutions qui encouragent l’apprentissage et la valorisation de tous les participants.

 

  1. Travailler à la réduction des émissions de carbone et de l’impact environnemental de l’Ontario.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait reconnaître que la réduction des émissions nécessite non seulement des politiques et des lois, mais aussi des changements culturels et paradigmatiques à grande échelle, en investissant dans des collaborations entre le secteur des arts et les communautés Autochtones, les chercheurs en matière de changements climatiques, les sociologues et les spécialistes du comportement, les chefs de file de l’industrie, les organismes de sensibilisation aux enjeux environnementaux, etc. Il est également important de soutenir le secteur des arts et de la culture dans la recherche, la conception et la mise en œuvre de lieux et de bâtiments durables et écoénergétiques, et d’élaborer des stratégies de tournée et de production à grande échelle durables.

 

  1. Reconnaître la nécessité et l’absence actuelle d’une infrastructure physique et numérique adéquate.

Cela comprend : l’établissement d’un programme de financement permanent pour soutenir les rénovations, les projets d’immobilisations et les nouvelles constructions des organismes artistiques et culturels. Ce programme devrait également recevoir des subventions pour les plus petits organismes afin de faciliter l’accès à court terme à des bureaux, de soutenir la capacité des organismes à numériser leurs collections et à les présenter sous forme numérique, et de soutenir la formation et le développement professionnel. Le gouvernement doit également s’attaquer au manque d’accès à l’Internet à haute vitesse qui a un impact disproportionné sur les communautés du Nord de l’Ontario.

 

  1. Investir davantage dans l’éducation artistique dans les écoles financées par les fonds publics de l’Ontario.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait faire appel aux intervenants du secteur des arts pour maintenir, concevoir et mettre à jour des programmes d’études contemporains qui tiennent compte de la population très diversifiée de l’Ontario, et s’assurer que des ressources physiques et humaines suffisantes sont en place pour les offrir. Il devrait également enquêter sur les disparités qui existent actuellement dans les écoles d’arts spécialisées financées par les fonds publics, et veiller à ce que les élèves appartenant à des groupes marginalisés et aux ménages à faible revenu y aient un accès équitable.

 

  1. Supporter la majorité des Ontariens en travaillant à la mise en place d’un revenu de base garanti fédéral.

Cela comprend : plaider et travailler avec le gouvernement fédéral sur le développement et la mise en œuvre d’une garantie de revenu de base ; faire évoluer les systèmes provinciaux de soutien au revenu existants vers les principes du revenu de base nécessitant moins de conditions et offrant plus d’autonomie aux bénéficiaires ; mettre en œuvre un projet pilote du revenu de base en Ontario ciblant les artistes à faible revenu, les travailleurs autonomes et d’autres Ontariens à l’emploi précaire pour les inclure. 

Nous sommes disponibles pour vous fournir plus de détails sur chacune de ces recommandations, et nous encourageons le gouvernement de l’Ontario à travailler de concert avec les membres de la PASO/OPSA pour envisager la voie à suivre pour la communauté artistique dynamique de l’Ontario.

 

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter paso.opsa@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

March 2021: The province of Ontario provided an action plan for economic and social recovery through Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries called Reconnecting Ontarians: Re-emerging as a Global Leader. Below is the response letter that PASO/OPSA members put together and submitted to Minister MacLeod. (Click here for PDF of the letter.)

March 4, 2021

Dear Minister MacLeod,

Thank you for the invitation to share our thoughts and recommendations on your thoughtful White Paper, Reconnecting Ontarians: Re-emerging as a Global Leader.

The content herein is a distillation of discussions and agreement amongst members of the Provincial Arts Service Organizations/Organisations Provinciale de Services aux Arts de l’Ontario (PASO/OPSA) coalition.

PASO/OPSA is a coalition of Arts Service Organizations with an Ontario mandate or chapter. Together, we strive to strengthen the environment for the individuals and institutions that create and disseminate the arts in this province, and for the public’s access to the arts. A list of our coalition’s membership is attached. Collectively, we are a powerful conduit to over 272,000 creative workers across the province, as well as the thousands of organizations, large and small, that create and support artistic expression in Ontario.

Informed by our observations as leaders within Arts Service Organizations, the coalition actively advocates for changes in legislation that will benefit the cultural sector’s organizations, artists, performers, as well as for making the arts more accessible for all Ontarians.

We will start with a general comment and then address the action items that are most relevant to the arts, culture and heritage sector.

Firstly, we would like to commend the Minister on her consultative approach, which is much appreciated. We would urge you to continue this post-COVID, and to ensure that the voices of artists and smaller organizations (not just core or key ones) are included. We too believe that the only way to rebuild and reinvigorate the sector in a post-COVID world will be through working together both within and across all sectors.

We recognize the breadth of the portfolio of your ministry and are hoping for an opportunity to explore synergies within the different areas of the Ministry, for example Tourism. Additionally, this presents an excellent opportunity to work in partnership across other ministries.

Our first comment is an obvious one and will, we are certain, be answered as various programs roll out. We look forward to getting more clarity around the specific funds mentioned in the White Paper (e.g. Community Building Fund, the $180.5 million for employment services and training programs, support for OAC and OTF, etc.). We are looking for more details on targeted support for the arts, culture and heritage sector and how to access it. Many of our comments are posed as questions to be answered in areas where we are seeking more detail.

Following are more specific comments by action item:

1. Ontario Place – We would like to ensure that the redevelopment plan includes appropriate support for artistic programming across multiple disciplines, not just for the initial re-launch, but on an on-going basis.

2. Stronger Communities – Community Building Fund – We are looking forward to hearing more details, but would like to ensure that the Fund clearly states that the arts and culture sector is eligible; that the support for stream one embraces digital infrastructure and initiatives; and that the second stream (support for infrastructure rehabilitation and renovation) includes eligibility for facilities run by arts and culture organizations, including artist-run centres.

3. Restore Confidence and Strengthen Inclusivity – Will there be encouragement /incentives for key arts and cultural institutions to work with smaller ones on best practices and training? Will there be sufficient financial support for required PPE? Will there be an opportunity for individual artists/creative workers and smaller organizations to have a voice at the table?

We continue to advocate for an investment of $10 million for an Indigenous Culture Fund. This would provide much-needed support for Indigenous cultural production and economic stimulation within Indigenous communities.

4. Compete for Global Festivals, etc. – How much new money will there be for this? What is the impact on current programs? When will there be details around how the centralization process will work? There is some urgency for organizations like Celebrate Ontario in order to maintain consistency in providing services.

5. Strengthen Commitment to Creative Industries – Tax Credits – We would like to see the exploration of a regime of tax credit solutions to assist in the recovery of the arts sector, for example with consideration of how such solutions might impact commercial theatres. Live commercial theatre has fallen through the cracks and is not recognized by any government as a major contributor to arts, culture, heritage, economy or tourism, and is therefore not considered in any of the relief programs announced as recently as this week.

6. Skills Development – We are looking forward to hearing details of how the $180.5 million will be structured. Will there be funds specifically targeted to the arts, culture and heritage sector? We want to ensure that eligibility is not too narrowly focused on the company/industry side of the sector, but includes artists and creative workers who are freelance, gig workers, etc. We want to ensure that internships and experiential work placement programs are included.

7. Capitalize on Emerging Creative Industries Markets – We are very supportive and also want to ensure that the importance of live and non-digital creative content/initiatives are not devalued/forgotten, particularly as these are jobs that will resist automation.

8. Protect Core Cultural Institutions – We also want to ensure that there is direct support for individual artists and the many grass roots organizations that are an integral part of the arts ecology. Will there be any incentives for core organizations to work with smaller community organizations? We want to ensure that there is a transparent process in the current consultation base that is inclusive of BIPOC individual creative workers and smaller organizations.

9. Reconnect Ontarians – Ontario’s Action Plan – There is a current focus on 2021 which raises concerns that this will only benefit organizations with outdoor events in the short term. We recommend that the focus should go beyond 2021 and include 2022, given the continuing challenges of the pandemic. We want to ensure that eligible expenses will include travel and the cost of tickets/access to arts and culture destination/events as well as PPE support for those destinations.

10. Develop a Globally Competitive Suite of Products – In that arts and culture initiatives underpin many tourism destinations, we confirm that we are eager to be part of the planning for this exciting opportunity and are looking for more detail. We want to ensure that there is consideration given to programming support.

11. Open Ontario up for Business and Visitors – Will there be an opportunity for the arts, culture and heritage sector to work with the modernization plan for the Ontario Travel Information Centres to ensure that the Centres have on-going access to information on arts, culture and heritage initiatives to share with visitors?

Again, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the conversation. We are passionate believers in the arts, culture and heritage sector and its huge contribution to Ontario’s double-bottom line. We stand ready to continue contributing insights going forward.

Sincerely,

PASO-OPSA’s co-chairs:

Zainub Verjee – Executive Director, Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries

Ruth Burns – Executive Director,  Ontario Culture Days

cc. PASO/OPSA Members: Diane Davey, Executive Director, WorkInCulture; Jacoba Knaapen, Executive Director, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)

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 (Opera.ca)

Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada

Réseau Ontario

Théâtre Action

Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)

WorkInCulture

February 2021: This year, the province of Ontario invited written submissions to inform budget consultations to be sent to The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. Below is the letter that PASO/OPSA members put together and submitted.

letter to the Minister of finance: Provincial Budget consultations

Dear Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy,

On behalf of the Provincial Arts Service Organizations of Ontario, a coalition of 27 organizations serving Ontario’s arts sector, we would like to thank your government for its tireless work to support Ontarians through this pandemic. We are grateful for what has already been provided to individuals, small businesses, and the arts and culture sector.

At this time, we are writing to make key recommendations for the 2021 Budget. We recommend:

  1. A permanent increase of $25 million in base funding to the Ontario Arts Council, to be distributed at the discretion of the OAC including to its identified priority groups. We applaud the support that has already been provided, and strongly recommend this permanent increase to ensure our sector’s long-term vibrancy. It is critical that this funding include individuals, collectives, and organizations of all sizes to ensure the resiliency of arts and culture in Ontario, a significant contributor to the GDP of this province’s economy (3.4%). 
  2. Increased COVID-19 relief support for individuals. To move our sector beyond the emergency phase, we recommend the creation of a high-access, rapid-response relief fund for individual artists and arts workers. This fund should be open to all disciplines and prioritize equity-seeking groups, as well as those who have sustained significant income loss due to COVID-19. Criteria should be flexible to best provide the needed relief for individuals, and not be seen as a replacement for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program.
  3. Paid Sick Leave: We strongly recommend implementing paid sick days for all employers so that workers don’t come to work sick. Sick days make workplaces safer for everyone, supports higher retention rates, and are a key pillar of an equitable approach to decent work. Sick days are fundamental to keeping communities across Ontario safe. We note that the federal government has already moved to cover paid sick days with the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. However, this remains insufficient as the program provides less than minimum wage and has other shortcomings.
  4. Funding for PPE and HVAC upgrades: Arts facilities that host gatherings for the general public (such as conferences, special events, live events) need financial support to welcome Ontarians and tourists back into safe environments. Organizations of all sizes must receive sufficient funding to ensure spaces and events across this province are safe.
  5. Indigenous Culture Fund: We continue to advocate for an investment of $10 million for an Indigenous Culture Fund. This would provide much-needed support for Indigenous cultural production and economic stimulation within Indigenous communities.  

These five recommendations will be crucial elements in ensuring the resilience of our sector. It depends on continued support from the Province of Ontario to provide meaningful cultural experiences and economic stimulation to our communities throughout and after this crisis.

As a powerful conduit to the arts community, PASO-OPSA would be happy to provide further information on the above recommendations and insight from our sector.

 

Sincerely,

 

PASO-OPSA’s Co-Chairs:

Zainub Verjee – Executive Director, Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries

Ruth Burns – Executive Director, Ontario Culture Days