In February 2021, on behalf of the province’s visual artists, CARFAC Ontario submitted to the Government of Ontario recommendations for the 2021 budget. While we applaud the steps that the government has taken to provide relief to the arts sector, we remain highly concerned by the absence of support for individual artists. As such, we recommended that that the Government of Ontario, as part of the 2021 budget:
1. Establish a $10m fund specifically to support Indigenous artists and cultural leaders
This fund will provide much-needed economic stimulation within Indigenous communities and will help to address the severe income disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.
2. Invest an additional $25m annually at the Ontario Arts Council
This funding should be provided to increase the Council’s base budget, be directed at discretion the of the Council with a focus on identified priority groups, not be restricted to major cultural institutions nor organizations, and be available to individual artists without whom major cultural institutions and organizations would be irrelevant.
3. Create a high-access, rapid-response fund for individual artists and self-employed arts workers
This fund should be open to artists and cultural leaders working in any discipline and prioritize those who identify as members of equity-seeking groups. Guidelines and eligibility criteria for this fund should be flexible to accommodate the diversity of artistic approaches, and the unique needs of individual artists and arts workers. The application process should be simple, online, with fast review and response times. Artists who receive Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program income supports should retain those income supports in full if they receive a payment through this fund. This fund is essential for restoring cultural production and subsequent economic activity.
4. Invest in PPE and HVAC upgrades
This investment should focus on small and mid-sized arts facilities. It will result in accelerating the return of tourism and the associated economic impact.
5. Implement paid sick days for all workers
Providing a minimum of 14 paid sick days per year is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The full brief is available here.