At the beginning of 2013, a billboard tax was proposed and pushed forward by an alliance of diverse young artists and organizations called BeautifulCity. United around the cause of diversifying access to public space, they pushed for the funds to be distributed by the Toronto Arts Council, with a particular focus on engaging young people across Toronto, creating employment opportunities, and making Toronto a more attractive city. Hearing these needs, the Toronto Arts Council made a bold first step with the tax income- committing to an annual investment of $300,000 into one of Toronto’s most innovative youth arts organizations, Artreach! Each year, ArtReach grants these funds out to community-based arts initiatives that engage youth from underserved and marginalized populations in Toronto.
These funds are not just an investment in ArtReach- they are an acknowledgement and legitimization of the new and emerging art forms being created by young artists, an increase in access to arts and culture programs for youth across Toronto, an opportunity to build capacity, and most importantly, these funds are a consistent investment into youth artists and community changemakers.
The Toronto Arts Council was key a member of the Funders Collaborative that facilitated ArtReach’s creation in 2006, and reconnecting with this formative partner has been an incredible experience. By the end of our 2018 granting round, ArtReach will have distributed nearly $3.3 million dollars, with over half of these funds made available through this partnership. Talk about coming full circle.