Arts & Culture for Everyone Plan

Strategy will Support Affordable Housing for Artists, Launch City of Toronto Museum and Support Venues for Live Music.

Toronto – Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa announced his Arts & Culture for Everyone plan today, which recognizes that Toronto’s 200,000 arts workers and 350 arts non-profits contributed $14.1 billion annually to Toronto’s economy prior to COVID, and are essential to our city’s growth and quality of life. Penalosa’s plan includes affordable housing for artists, a City of Toronto Museum and a commitment to reinvigorate Toronto’s live music scene.

“Toronto is losing too many arts and culture workers to other cities because of the high cost of housing and lack of opportunity,” said Penalosa. “It's essential that we provide artists with affordable housing as well as spaces to work and display their crafts if we want to keep them in Toronto.”

There are no arts if there are no artists. That’s why the top priority of Penalosa’s Arts & Culture for Everyone plan is supporting artists through:

  • Strengthening Artscape’s capacity to work with the City and developers to ensure that artists have access to live/work spaces within their budgets through new Inclusionary Zoning regulations, which mandates up to 10% of housing as affordable
  • More opportunities for paid work through teaching public classes that bring arts into communities
  • Creating a Live Arts Officer position in the City’s Economic & Culture Division to champion the needs of performing artists. 

Too many performance venues closed over the pandemic. To help revitalize Toronto’s arts and culture scenes, Penalosa’s plan includes:

  • Moving forward with a City of Toronto Museum at Old City Hall to tell our diverse history and showcase our present with flexible performance, meeting and lecture spaces. Mayor John Tory is over three years late on delivering a plan for this important cultural centre.
  • Helping to establish a non-profit ownership model, based on the UK’s successful Music Venue Trust program, to support existing live music venues and art galleries and launch new ones
  • Creating an equipped, ready-to-play stage for outdoor concerts in a signature park, similar to the facility in New York’s Central Park
  • Working with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) to lower Special Occasion Permit fees, which have more than doubled in recent years, to encourage DIY music and art shows
  • Dedicating a portion of new Community Benefits Charge to secure and develop new arts spaces throughout the City

Penalosa’s plan will provide additional opportunities for everyone to create and appreciate the arts throughout Toronto by:

  • Providing arts classes on evenings and weekends in local public schools across the city as part of his School Community Hubs plan
  • Bringing the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and other major arts organizations to civic centres and parks in Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York, York and East York.

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