City of Toronto grant programs are a strategic tool used to achieve the City’s social, economic and cultural goals. These funding programs represent a form of partnership with community based organizations that contribute significantly to the goals in relation to community capacity, equitable access, well being, diversity, civic participation and civic cohesion.

The majority of the City’s cultural grants are administered by the arm’s length Toronto Arts Council however, the City provides financial investments in culture via the programs below.

Grants programs identify their specific criteria. They include areas such as:

  • Consistency with the City’s objectives – the activity or outcomes for which funds are sought must support one or more goals of the City of Toronto.
  • Financial Need – the applicant must demonstrate that it does not otherwise have the resources to undertake the activity for which funds are sought.
  • Not-for-Profit Status – the applicant must demonstrate that the activity for which funds are sought will be organized without financial gain for its members or directors.

Local Arts Service Organizations

Local Arts Service Organizations (LASOs) support the City of Toronto’s strong neighbourhoods strategy in under-served areas. They provide inclusive opportunities for children and youth and participants from a broad demographic spectrum. There are six LASOs receiving municipal funding.

Cultural Festivals Funding Program

The City of Toronto recognizes the importance of cultural festivals to the cultural, social, and economic life of the city. The Cultural Festivals Funding Program (CFFP) has been designed to support the development of the festival sector in a manner that is accessible, transparent and accountable.

Cultural Access and Development Program

Program criteria are under development and will be announced in 2022.

StreetART Toronto (StART)

StART‘s mission is to revitalize and engage communities through street and mural art. StART provides up to $50,000 in funding for partnership projects.

Local Arts Service Organizations (LASOs) support the City of Toronto’s Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy in underserved geographic areas as well as the 2018-2022 Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy of inclusion and equity in geographic areas outside the core. They provide inclusive and affordable opportunities for local residents, artists, and arts organizations, with a focus on underserved children, youth, and participants from a broad demographic spectrum. There are six LASOs receiving municipal funding:

The LASOs have been successful in reaching out to populations that otherwise would not have participated in the various arts opportunities they offer. LASOs are important building blocks for healthy and cohesive communities providing hubs for community arts programs. As anchor community arts organizations in Toronto, they promote the arts at the local level, making culture a part of the daily fabric of community living.

Each LASO is as unique as the community it serves, however, each organization shares the common goal of making a range of arts broadly accessible and affordable. To maximize impact, wherever possible, these organizations actively seek partnership opportunities amongst themselves and with wide-ranging partners, utilizing existing resources and talent in Toronto to design, develop, facilitate and implement relevant arts services and programs.

LASO Grant Allocations for 2021:

  Organization   Funding Allocation
  Arts Etobicoke   $407,936
  Lakeshore Arts   $293,057
  Scarborough Arts   $297,279
  UrbanArts Community Arts   $315,435
  East End Arts   $216,453
  North York Arts   $287,240
  Total   $1,817,400

The Cultural Festivals Funding Program (CFFP) has been designed to support the development of the festival sector in a manner that is accessible, transparent and accountable. The CFFP will advance the City’s access, equity and inclusion goals, including reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The program provides financial support to recurring cultural festivals whose programming supports city-building, focuses on engaging with the people of Toronto, serves Toronto residents across the city, and promotes opportunities for emerging artists, Indigenous artists, and artists from other groups.  A significant programming component must be free to the public.

The decision to fund all or part of an applicant’s request will depend on the festival’s alignment with City of Toronto’s current strategic priorities, assessment criteria and overall demand for funds in the program.

Definitions

For the purpose of this program, a “cultural festival” is defined as a collection of arts and cultural activities presented over a minimum of a one-day period with a common theme. A festival may be devoted to one or more artistic discipline and be produced annually or once every two years. The cultural festival is primarily free to the public, takes place in the public realm, has general appeal and a public profile.

Cultural festival programming includes performing arts, visual arts, literary arts, interdisciplinary arts, craft, design and expressions of cultural identity.

“Equity deserving groups” include women, racialized groups, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, undocumented individuals, 2SLGBTQ+ people, people of low income and other groups the City identifies as historically underrepresented.

Funding Streams & Application Intake

Funding is available through three program funding streams:

  • Multi-Year Operating
  • Annual Operating
  • Projects

Applications for 2022 funding closed on February 11, 2022.

Please note that an organization can receive only one grant from the Cultural Festival Funding Program per calendar year.

General Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, applicants must have a head office in the City of Toronto (except for Band Councils, Tribal Councils or other Indigenous governments) and/or be one of the following:

  • An incorporated not for profit organization
  • A local band council, a local tribal council or other local Indigenous government (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) or equivalent authority
  • A Business Improvement Area (must apply to the Project stream)
  • An incorporated not for profit community organization partnering with unincorporated individuals or collectives producing a cultural festival
  • Have successfully organized a prior edition of the festival, within the last two years, that meets the eligibility requirements of CFFP
  • Present significant cultural programming that is free to the public

More detail is available in the downloadable program guidelines.

Eligible organizations must submit their application on the City of Toronto’s Grants, Rebates and Incentives portal. More detail is available in the downloadable TGRIP User Guide. Please read and then register and set up your account.

In 2018, the City of Toronto launched a new fund that supports partnerships and collaborations that create new opportunities and visibility for Indigenous-led arts and culture.

The aim of the fund is to spark new relationships between Indigenous artists, arts and culture leaders and professionals, and potential partners at both the grassroots and institutional levels.

Learn more about the Indigenous Arts & Culture Partnerships Fund.

StreetARToronto (StART) is a suite of programs designed specifically for streets and public spaces. Initiated in 2012 as an integral part of the City’s Graffiti Management Plan, StART has been successful in reducing graffiti vandalism and replacing it with vibrant, colourful, community-engaged street art. Learn more about our Partnership Grants Program.

In October 2019, City Council directed staff to redesign the City’s cultural grant programs with the intention of developing more accessible, competitive programs, and achieving a greater impact for equity-deserving communities (see Council’s decision). Specifically, Council directed staff to discontinue the former Major Cultural Organizations and Grants to Specialized Collections Museums programs and replace them with two new funding streams, including one for cultural festivals, and a second tentatively titled the Cultural Access and Development Program. To inform the design of these new programs, Council requested that eligibility criteria, assessment process and intended outcomes be established with the input of the community and existing funding clients.