City Council adopted the Toronto Public Art Strategy (2020-2030) in December 2019. The strategy sets out a 10-year plan to enhance the City’s commitment to public art. The strategy includes 21 actions to advance public art across the city, with a vision of creativity and community – everywhere.

Additional details are available as part of the staff report to Council.

Following decades of commitment and leadership by the City, private developers, and community partners, Toronto is enriched by more than 1,500 works of public art that engage residents and visitors with the history, diversity, creativity and aspirations of our city. Public art has been leveraged as a tool for community development, civic engagement, and urban design, and has created significant opportunities for artists to advance their professional practice through high-profile public commissions.

The City delivers three core public art programs – the City of Toronto Public Art and Monuments Collection, the Percent for Public Art Program, and StreetARToronto (StART). Together, these programs have had a major impact on the city’s urban fabric, assembling a collection of public art that, in the number of works alone, is of international significance. At the same time, there is more to be done to ensure that the benefits of public art are felt city-wide, and to harness the potential of public art to advance broader city-building priorities, such as equity and inclusion, environmental resiliency, reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and place-making, among others. With a deliberate, ambitious vision, facilitated by greater and ongoing interdivisional collaboration, Toronto can be a global leader in public art.

Looking ahead, the City can build on its strong foundations to enhance the impact of public art for the benefit of all of Toronto. The Toronto Public Art Strategy seizes this opportunity by putting forward a vision to empower creativity and community, everywhere. This is a vision for a city committed to public art, accessible to all, that reinforces neighbourhood character, embraces excellence in design, and advances the careers of local artists.

The strategy is underpinned by a commitment to embed truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities as foundational principles for public art. Not only is this commitment fundamental to addressing the deficit of Indigenous cultural representation in the public realm, but it also positions Toronto to build a collection of public art unlike any other in the world – one that is deeply connected to the cultural expression of Indigenous communities, and reflective of an aesthetic that is unique to our city.

The City engaged more than 400 Torontonians to share their insights on public art through an inclusive community and stakeholder consultation process. Consultations were designed and led by PROCESS, an independent third-party facilitator. The report below summarizes the feedback that was received by PROCESS during the consultations.

PROCESS’ report on consultations.

The development of Toronto’s new public art strategy was guided by an advisory committee of community and cultural leaders. Committee members included:

  • Amir Akbari (Founder, Behind the Line)
  • David Anselmi (Senior Director, Real Estate, Canada Lands Company, and Chair, Toronto Public Art Commission)
  • Edward Birnbaum (Director of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of Toronto)
  • Rebecca Carbin (Principal, Art + Public UnLtd)
  • Kari Cwynar (Curator, Evergreen Brick Works)
  • Bonnie Devine (Artist and Founding Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture Program, OCAD University [Emerita])
  • Sara Diamond (President, OCAD University)
  • Dean Drever (Artist)
  • Helena Grdadolnik (Director, Workshop Architecture, and Member, Toronto Public Art Commission)
  • Adrian Hayles (Artist and Curator, Hashtag Gallery)
  • Layne Hinton (Co-Curator, Art Spin)
  • Leah Houston (Artistic Director, MABELLEarts)
  • Luis Jacob (Artist)
  • Alexis Kane Speer (Executive Director, STEPS Initiative)
  • Lila Karim (Executive Director, North York Arts)
  • Gabriel Leung (Vice President, Development, Concord Adex)
  • Mimi Joh-Carnella (Chair, Board of Directors, Partners in Art)
  • Rui Pimenta (Co-Curator, Art Spin)
  • Asad Raza (Producer and Curator)
  • Tamira Sawatsky (Architect, Public Studio)
  • Anjuli Solanki (Director of Community Programs, STEPS Initiative)
  • Dan Silver (Associate Professor, University of Toronto)