Program Guidelines

Program Goal

ArtReach is a funding program designed to support youth arts initiatives in Toronto that foster youth engagement and provide high quality arts opportunities. $300,000 in grants are available to support youth arts projects, thanks to our amazing partnership with the Toronto Arts Council.

ArtReach aims to support meaningful engagement of Toronto youth (13-29), who have experienced and/or are experiencing exclusion from active participation in quality arts opportunities.

ArtReach will support projects that:

  • Serve youth living in Toronto, with priority for those who identify with an under-served community*
  • Are offered by individual young artists and/or youth-led groups and organizations
  • Encourage creative expression through quality arts opportunities** AND foster meaningful youth engagement*** in project design, implementation and evaluation.

* “Under-served communities” refers to under-resourced geographic areas as well as under-resourced groups. This could include neighborhoods or Toronto Community Housing units (for example Chester Le or Flemingdon Park), as well as groups with specific experiences, cultures or identities (for example, youth who identify as Queer and/or Trans*, or youth in the Eritrean diaspora). ArtReach encourages applicants to describe their community, and the needs of its members, in their proposals.

** “Quality arts opportunities” go beyond an introduction to the art form and offer experiences that have a personal or emotional impact on the participant, and a positive impact on the broader community. They also provide participants with sufficient resources to develop tangible skills in the given art form.

***”Meaningful youth engagement” includes youth being involved in the governance of a group or organization, as well as being involved in decision making around project planning, implementation, management and evaluation. Note that ArtReach’s mandate is to support youth-led initiatives, where primary decision-making rests with young people aged 13-29.

Refer to the glossary at the bottom of this page for definitions of underlined terms.

Project Eligibility

ArtReach wishes to support innovative youth projects that may not be supported elsewhere. ArtReach is about access, reducing barriers and increasing opportunities for youth and other active and interested organizations, individual artists and collectives to create or continue quality arts projects or programming. New and emerging art forms will be considered, and are encouraged.

To be eligible for funding, projects must have all of the following key features:

  • Increase access to quality arts opportunities that encourage creative expression and involve meaningful engagement of youth (ages 13 – 29) in Toronto
  • Applicants must be living and providing project activities within the City of Toronto
  • Projects must promote social inclusion and provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills, capacity, and opportunities within their communities and the initiatives they lead
  • Projects must provide opportunities for youth to benefit from both the intrinsic (e.g. personal enjoyment, creative expression) and instrumental value (e.g. community engagement, skills development, social change) of the arts
  • Projects must involve youth in project development, implementation and evaluation
  • Projects must involve artist(s) with relevant experience and reach into participating communities
  • Projects must offer an ongoing workshop series that engages the same group of participants for each session. Drop-in style programming is not eligible for ArtReach funding.
Art Forms

ArtReach embraces a broad definition of culture and is looking to support both emerging and traditional art forms, as well as popular art forms. This includes but is not limited to music, dance, drama, creative writing, poetry & spoken word, carnival and circus, film and video, TV and radio, photography, new media, multi-media, visual arts, graffiti & street art, graphic design, textiles, fashion design, crafts, the 5 elements of hip hop etc. Please tell us about your art form and it’s ability to engage young people.

Sample projects include:

  • A theatre production developed and performed by and for newcomer youth
  • Workshops for a youth in a traditional or new dance form to be performed at Toronto parks
  • Training, and start-up costs for youth starting a clothing line to be presented in a fashion show
  • An art exhibit showcasing works developed for the show by youth from a cultural community
  • A group of youth working with a professional artists to develop portfolios and launch them online
  • TIP: See here for a list of previously funded projects
Who Can Apply?

ArtReach’s funding mandate is to support projects being carried out by youth and youth-led groups and organizations, where leadership positions and decision-making responsibilities are held by young people. Accordingly, young people will drive funding applications and project management activities. We recognize that there are many models for youth-led projects (including those that include administrative partners and adult mentors). In your application please describe your model in detail. ArtReach’s main point of contact should be the young person leading the project.

  • Youth led groups, collectives or not-for-profit organizations
  • Individual young artists leading new or existing projects that provide learning opportunities for youth.
  • Youth groups that are housed within larger not-for-profit or charitable organizations*
  • Applicants providing arts training opportunities to youth facing severe barriers*

*Proposals from applicants that are not youth-led initiatives will be considered where the barriers being faced by the youth participants are severe. In these cases, there must be a strong youth engagement model in place, and a plan for supporting youth to play meaningful leadership roles. If this applies, please contact the program manager to discuss.  

Funds Available

Individual artists, groups of artists, unincorporated organizations, nonprofit and charitable organizations may apply for community project grants at the following funding levels. In your application, please submit a budget for one of the exact amounts below, or round your budget up to the nearest thousand. Make sure your budget accurately reflects what you need to complete your activities, as well as pay artists and team members.

Apply for a $5,000 pilot project if…

  • You want to try out a new idea OR
  • You want to run a smaller-scale project (short timeline, reduced number of participants) OR
  • This is the the first time you’ve run this program (and have no previous experience)

 Apply for a $10,000 Phase One Project if…

  • This is the first time you’ve run this program, but have previous programming/ project experience OR
  • You want to want to keep an existing program running OR
  • You want to run a larger-scale project (longer timeline, higher number of participants)

You can ONLY apply for a $15,000 Phase Two Project If…

  • Your Phase One project was successfully funded by ArtReach in the past AND
  • You are expanding your phase one project by
    • Increasing timelines
    • Adding more participants
    • Adding a new community
    • Adding new employment opportunities for young people
    • Teaching a more advanced level of your arts practice to your phase one same participants

Please note:

  • Retroactive funding is ineligible.
  • Applicants may not receive funds from both ArtReach and the Toronto Arts Council for the same activities and timelines. If you are planning on applying to both funders, please notify the program manager or granting officer to ensure there is no overlap that will affect your eligibility.
  • Artists who receive funding from ArtReach are not eligible to receive funding in the same year from any of Toronto Arts Council’s Strategic Funding Programs, including Platform A MicroGrants.
  • Groups are restricted from re-applying to ArtReach until final reports are submitted for any open grants, and they have received written notification that their file has been closed.
  • ArtReach can fund young groups, organizations or artists to a maximum of three times.
  • Grant recipients must sign a City of Toronto anti-discrimination statement.
  • All grantees (those receiving funding) must attend an orientation session.
Eligible Expenses

Expenses directly related to the project can be included in your funding request. These may include:

  • Salaries and wages for project staff and artists
  • Art supplies and equipment
  • Transportation, including TTC tickets for project participants
  • Program planning, development and evaluation
  • Staff and volunteer training
  • Promotion and outreach strategies
  • Liability insurance
  • Rental and permit fees
  • Minor space improvements (e.g. painting, construction of a stage)
  • Capital costs up to 20% of the total request.
  • Web design and printing costs
  • Events or forums. *Note that events that are eligible for funding must be supplementing or enhancing a project, or showcasing works of art developed by youth within the proposed project
  • Translation or interpretation services or any accommodation services/supports for special needs

* If there are other expenses not included in the above list that are critical to the success of your project, please discuss this with ArtReach staff, as it may be eligible depending on the project.

Ineligible Expenses

ArtReach is not intended to fund the following:

  • Individual artists projects or creation of works (IE. we will not fund your mix tape!)
  • General operating expenses (unrelated to the project)
  • Deficit reduction
  • Bursaries, scholarships, sponsorships or individual requests
  • Fundraising campaigns
  • Substantial capital and infrastructure costs (e.g. building, major renovations)
  • Capital costs that are more than 20% of the total project budget
  • Capital costs not directly related to the artistic learning opportunities being provided
  • Software development
  • Prizes
*NOTE: ArtReach does not fund drop-in programming or one-time events.
Writing a Solid Application

Successful Applications:

  • Have a clear outreach strategy to connect with youth who may have limited access to engaging arts opportunities
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive workplan that includes all activities from planning your project, to conducting your wrap up (the more detail you can provide, the better)
  • Provide a detailed explanation of how the art form(s) proposed will be engaging and relevant to youth
  • Have a clear evaluation plan to show how you will measure, document and share project findings
  • Includes details that show you have put time and research into this proposal. The more you include, the more the Grant Review Team is able to see that you’ve planned for every step of your project.
Funding Decisions

If your project is eligible, the ArtReach Grant Review Team (GRT) will review your application and funding request. The GRT is a group of young volunteers representing youth, non-profit/community organizations and artists. Results are announced within 60 days of the deadline.

If your project is not approved for funding, you are encouraged to reapply and should speak to the staff who may be able to advise you on next steps.

Glossary of Definitions


A budget includes a detailed outline of project expenses (monies going out such as salaries for staff, rent, photocopying, etc) and revenues (monies coming in such as fundraising, grants, etc.). Budget expenses should include in-kind contributions (donations of service or product that would otherwise be an additional expense such as the donation of free meeting space in a community centre). For more info see our Grant Writing 101 toolkit

Projects funded are expected to include evaluation as one of the project’s activities. Evaluation looks at whether or not (and why) the project was successful in achieving its goals and objectives. There are many ways to collect this information, for more info see our Evaluation 101 toolkit

Individual artist
An artist that has demonstrated skills and/or training in his or her artistic field (not necessarily obtained in an academic institution); is recognized as such by his or her peers; is committed to devoting more time to the artistic activity if he or she can afford to; and has a history of public presentation (Adapted from existing Laidlaw Foundation web glossary).

Social inclusion
A socially inclusive community is one in which every member can fully participate without barriers or discrimination. A project that promotes social inclusion supports youth to overcome barriers, or works with youth to break them down.

Work plan
A project work plan outlines the major activities and expected completion dates related to the project from start (planning) to finish (post-project evaluation). For example, a project work plan would include information about special events (e.g. performances, exhibitions), staffing, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, etc.

Youth who have experienced exclusion
Youth who have been marginalized on the basis of race, neighbourhood, language, newcomer status, disability, gender, sexual orientation or any other factors.