Celebrating Toronto’s Art and Community

ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021 will kick-off the City’s new 10-Year of Public Art Strategy, signalling Toronto’s renewed commitment to public art. The program will celebrate Toronto’s incredible collection of public art and the artists behind it, while creating more opportunities for the public to connect and engage with the work. Toronto’s commitment to this exciting new program underscores a dedication to the arts sector as an essential component of a vibrant city.

ArtworxTO will provide new opportunities for both Toronto and international artists to play a leading role in the development of public art projects within the city. The program will work closely with artists and Toronto’s key arts institutions to deliver major public art projects and commissions for 2021.

ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art will be driven by the guiding principles of the 10-Year Public Art Strategy and its 21 strategic actions endorsed by Toronto City Council.

Foremost among these principles is a commitment to advancing reconciliation in Toronto through Indigenous place-making. For ArtworxTO this means that:

  • Projects will acknowledge the Indigenous history, present and future of the land they are situated on;
  • Indigenous projects should be guided by self-determination, freedom of expression, equitable access to resources and greater influence over public art practices; and,
  • Indigenous communities and creators must be at the centre of the decision-making process for any Indigenous-focused project.

Key Pillars of Public Art Strategy

ArtworxTO will launch Toronto’s new Public Art Strategy, with its vision of “Creativity and Community–Everywhere”

Pillar One: Creativity

The Toronto Public Art Strategy will create new platforms for artists and community partners to create and experiment with public art.

  • Issue open calls to artists and curators for project ideas
  • Animate Toronto with temporary public art
  • Identify public art opportunities and engage artists as early as possible in all projects
  • Champion career-launching platforms for the next generation of public artists
  • Create new skills development and leadership opportunities for Indigenous artists, curators and art consultants in the field of public art
  • Deliver a range of competition types and opportunities
  • Encourage new methods of community-engaged public art works in a variety of media

Pillar Two: Community

Connecting the public with public art is fundamental to amplifying the impact of Toronto’s collection.

  • Enable the public to discover and interact with public art through creative online resources
  • Activate public art through community-focused educational and interpretive programming
  • Create more public art opportunities for artists from equity-seeking communities
  • Engage Indigenous communities to identify sites of significance across Toronto for Indigenous public art projects
  • Ensure that juries and advisory committees are reflective of the diversity of the arts sector, and the population of the City of Toronto
  • Engage artists and communities city-wide in decision-making related to public art through meaningful consultation processes
  • Establish an artist-in-residence program in City divisions
  • Pursue new opportunities for destination public art

Pillar Three: Everywhere

Public art should provide opportunities for residents to engage with the city’s diversity and creativity on an everyday basis, no matter where they live.

  • Develop City-wide standards to consistently apply the “Percent for Public Art” policy to municipal capital projects
  • Produce public art master plans on a city-wide basis to provide strategic direction on future project plans
  • Pool public art funds to produce new works in underserved areas of the city
  • Advance Indigenous place-making city-wide through public art
  • Integrate public art in a variety of media into a broader range of public realm improvements
  • Protect public art works city-wide through proactive maintenance and conservation

ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art will work in close collaboration with partners in the arts, business and government, with a focus on 11 objectives:

  1. Support the City of Toronto’s new 10-year Public Art Strategy, created through extensive public consultation, and approved by Toronto City Council.
  2. Work with the Mayor’s External Advisory Committee to champion the initiative and ensure it has relevance and reach for public and private partners.
  3. Provide real opportunities to Toronto artists to produce new artwork for 2021, through new funding opportunities with the Toronto Arts Council and the City of Toronto.
  4. Collaborate with key partner arts institutions on significant new initiatives for 2021, including legacy commissions and public engagement activities.
  5. Advance Indigenous place-making to support the City of Toronto’s efforts towards Indigenous reconciliation and create new opportunities for Indigenous artists.
  6. Strengthen the link between public art and civic engagement through investment in art that engages the public while addressing major issues facing Toronto today.
  7. Expand the City of Toronto’s cultural events to celebrate public art, including city-wide expansion of Nuit Blanche Toronto by 2021 and public art focus for Doors Open.
  8. Reflect all Toronto communities in public art, by supporting diversity in both City and partner-led projects and ensuring efforts reach across the city, including multigenerational engagement with a focus on youth.
  9. Invest in access to public art, improve the City of Toronto’s digital presence for public art as well as invest in public and private partner-led projects that help people navigate, access, and engage with the art.
  10. Support innovation in public art design, delivery and engagement, through partnerships with artists and institutions that are pushing boundaries in the field.
  11. Strengthen existing, and cultivate new partnerships, between the private sector, the arts community and the City of Toronto.

ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art will lay the foundation for a stronger arts sector by supporting artists, key arts institutions and the public with the following program streams:

Artist-led Projects

Getting money directly to artists for artist-initiated temporary public art projects, including a new Toronto Arts Council granting stream, Animating Toronto Streets

Partnership Grants

Arts organizations and festivals will be eligible for different levels of partnership with the City of Toronto on Year of Public Art activities, including funding, communications, and production support.

Engagement Projects

Through both grants to partners and improved City efforts, the public will benefit from new tools and programs to help access and engage with public art in Toronto.

ArtworxTO will leave an enduring legacy of new works and funds, plus create sustainable opportunities for Toronto’s artists seeking to work in the public realm beyond 2021.

The Mayor’s ArtworxTO External Advisory Committee will play a crucial role in ensuring that the project is communicated and implemented in ways that resonate with Torontonians, maximize the event’s impact, and leave a lasting legacy. Each member on the Committee brings an essential and critical perspective to the development of the project and will be a champion of the Year of Public Art within their respective communities and networks.


Advisory Committee

External Working Group

ArtworxTO’s External Working Group provides informed advice, feedback and ideas to contribute to the implementation of Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021. The Working Group’s contributions include assistance in defining success and evaluation metrics, advising and supporting staff in the implementation of programs, and championing this important city initiative in communities across the city, amplifying reach and local engagement.

  • Hiba Abdallah, Artist and Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto
  • Randell Adjei, Executive Director, R.I.S.E Edutainment
  • David Anselmi, Senior Director, Real Estate, Canada Lands Company
  • Chloe Catan, Public Art Program Manager, Waterfront Toronto
  • Roland Rom Colthoff, Director, RAW Design
  • Dean Drever, Artist
  • Helena Grdadolnik, Director of Workshop; Toronto Public Art Commission Member
  • Stuart Keeler, Senior Curator, TD Bank Corporate Art Collection
  • Jason Lujan, Artist/Lecturer, University of Toronto
  • Ashley McKenzie-Barnes, Creative Director & Curator
  • Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre Company
  • Devon Ostrom, Curator, Artist and Advocate
  • Celia Smith, Interim CEO, Luminato Festival Toronto
  • Anjuli Solanki, City Builder, The STEPS Initiative
  • Michael Vickers, Artist, Co-Director, Akin

ArtworxTO will work closely with all Toronto’s major contemporary art events, institutions and City-led projects. It will include a renewed vision for public art with program expansions and multi-year artistic director appointments for Nuit Blanche Toronto and the Indigenous Arts Festival.

Through Toronto’s Year of Public Art in 2021 and in recognition of the many arts institutions and cultural hubs across the city that have made Toronto a centre of public art, the Year of Public Art will be delivered in close collaboration with a range of partners. Including, to date:

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
Art Gallery of York University
Art Toronto
Arts Etobicoke
Doris McCarthy Gallery
East End Arts
Gardiner Museum
Harbourfront Centre
Lakeshore Arts 
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
North York Arts 
OCAD University
Onsite Gallery
Union Station – Osmington
Ryerson University
Scarborough Arts
Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
The Bentway
Toronto Arts Council
Toronto Arts Foundation
Toronto Biennial of Art
Toronto Outdoor Art Fair

To learn more about custom sponsorship and partnership opportunities for ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021, please contact artworxto@toronto.ca.