Here are specific recommendations in Ontario’s Culture Strategy that are relevant to FOPL and our library community. I have highlighted sections of particular interest to public libraries in red and yellow but there are links to library and municipal strategy all through the recommendations and document. It’s always wise to echo these themes in government relations between your institution, municipality and library.
Strategy 1 – Help build strong community-based culture organizations
- work with government partners and culture stakeholders to maximize the use of public libraries, museums, galleries and other culture facilities as community hubs and explore opportunities to integrate arts and culture activities and spaces into schools and other community facilities
- review and update provincial funding programs for public libraries to build the capacity of libraries serving rural and remote communities, improve digital services and support leadership and innovation
- work with First Nation public libraries to better understand their unique needs and identify opportunities for responding through improved supports
- review and update provincial funding programs for community museums and heritage organizations to build capacity, strengthen leadership and support more diverse organizations
- collaborate on the continued implementation of the Ontario Volunteer Action Plan  and promote the Partnership Grant Program,  which helps build the capacity of the not-for-profit sector, including arts and culture organizations
Strategy 2 – Conserve and promote Ontario’s diverse cultural heritage
- help heritage property owners use clean, low carbon technologies, and enable the province to develop and share expertise on heritage and energy conservation, by leveraging opportunities for energy efficiency improvements through Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan
- provide online access to information about Ontario’s cultural heritage, including designated heritage properties and provincial heritage properties
- develop additional tools to help communities identify and protect their cultural heritage, including guidance on cultural heritage landscapes, cultural planning, and the interests of Indigenous communities in conserving cultural heritage, to support municipalities in implementing the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) 
- work with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and heritage organizations to support local archives to promote, preserve and facilitate access to Ontario’s diverse documentary memory for current and future generations
- work with Indigenous partners, archaeologists, museums and other stakeholders to develop a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts so that current and future generations can learn about and understand our past
- review the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists to reflect the evolving practice of archaeology in land use and development contexts, including the engagement of Indigenous communities and the care of artifacts
Strategy 3 – Connect people and communities by sharing and celebrating our diverse heritage and cultures
- bring together culture and tourism agencies and attractions and Indigenous partners to increase public awareness and understanding of Indigenous histories, cultural heritage, knowledge and ongoing contributions to arts and culture in Ontario
- collaborate with sport and recreation partners to explore more opportunities to integrate cultural engagement into community recreation and sport, and to encourage cultural celebrations as a part of multi-sport games held in Ontario
- celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with special programming through our culture agencies, all year long, to highlight the important role of arts and culture in the rich history of our province and our country
- continue to engage with the Government of Québec to facilitate and foster information exchanges, work collaboratively on common issues and develop joint projects under the Agreement for Cooperation on Culture between the Government of Ontario and the Government of Québec relating to the arts, cultural industries,  public libraries and heritage
- there will be more recognition and use of public libraries and other culture facilities as community hubs
- Ontarians will gain greater understanding of cultural heritage conservation and there will be more tools to assist in conserving Ontario’s unique cultural heritage
- funding will be targeted to support a greater diversity of organizations and key priorities (e.g., digital services)
- cultural heritage conservation will be more inclusive of Indigenous communities and perspectives
- Ontarians will be more aware of Indigenous contributions to arts and culture in the province
Goal 3: Fuel the creative economy
Focus on maximizing the contributions of the creative economy to Ontario’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity
All parts of Ontario’s culture sector contribute to a strong creative economy: professional artists; the cultural industries (including film and television production, interactive digital media, music recording and performance, and book and magazine publishing); the wider creative industries (like architecture, design, fashion, advertising, broadcasting and industries that support them); and Ontario’s cultural institutions, organizations, galleries, science centres, museums, heritage sites, festivals and events.
Companies and workers in the creative economy develop, create, produce, perform and present world-class work and compelling experiences, supply creative services or fill supporting knowledge-based roles. Their economic impact resonates throughout the province in the thriving interactive digital media sector in Southwestern Ontario, the vibrant fashion district in Toronto, the award-winning theatre community in Stratford and the growing film and television production industry in Sudbury.
Some components of the creative sector have a global reach, such as our entrepreneurial Ontario Science Centre and Science North, which have been exporting their creative services and products for more than two decades. To build on our success, we need to remain competitive nationally and grow the economic and cultural impact of our creative sector internationally.
The creative economy is expected to become even more important to Ontario’s prosperity as we continue to shift from a manufacturing and resource-based economy to one dependent on knowledge and innovation. Digital content is constantly evolving and introducing new possibilities, such as augmented and virtual reality. Digital technology and distribution are creating new opportunities for our artists and creative-sector entrepreneurs and transforming the traditional cultural industries.
Ontario’s postsecondary, training and research institutions, like OCAD University, York University’s 3D Film Innovation Consortium, the Canadian Film Centre, and Sheridan College with its Screen Industries Research and Training Centre partnership, lead the way in responding to these changes by incubating cutting-edge technologies and developing exceptional creative talent.
In the knowledge economy, people are Ontario’s most important resource. Now and for the future, we need a cultural workforce with the technical skills to address the challenges and maximize the opportunities presented by a global digital economy. Culture workers, whether they are independent artists, entrepreneurs or leaders of arts and culture organizations, also need business skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive arena. Ontario’s diversity is our key competitive strength and our cultural workforce must reflect our diversity by actively engaging members of Indigenous, ethno-cultural and Deaf and disability communities, as well as newcomers to Ontario.
Ontario is well positioned for success in this dynamic environment. The Ontario Arts Council provides funding to Ontario’s professional artists and arts organizations, supporting their contributions to the cultural vitality and economic prosperity of Ontario. Arts, culture and the creative industries are identified as a priority economic sector in the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation  provides funding to film and television productions that create jobs and training opportunities for Northern residents.
The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) provides business development services and funding for growth for our cultural industries and seeks out investment opportunities for the province. It acts as the hub of Ontario’s creative economy, brokering international deals at OMDC’s International Financing Forum during the Toronto International Film Festival, supporting industry-led initiatives like Interactive Ontario’s GameON: Ventures, and Magazines Canada’s MagNet Conference, managing the Ontario Music Office and Ontario Film Commission, and celebrating Ontario authors through the annual Trillium Book Award and Prix Trillium. Ontario also offers over $400 million in cultural media tax credits to attract investment and jobs to our province and supports the wider creative industries through its broader economic agenda.
This goal builds on this support and on the work of many other partners and organizations. Its strategies focus on making Ontario a culture leader, at home and internationally, and on strengthening Ontario’s culture workforce.
Strategy 1 – Make Ontario a culture leader at home and internationally
- with the permanent Ontario Music Fund as a foundation, continue to build Ontario as a leading North American centre for music production and performance, as well as spur music tourism by setting a vision and directions to further the development of the Ontario Live Music Strategy
- continue to work with Ontario’s growing interactive digital media companies to build a globally competitive industry that can innovate and succeed in the next generation of interactive entertainment, including video games, augmented and virtual reality, mobile content and cross-platform storytelling
- establish a public/private film and television industry advisory panel to examine priority issues facing the industry and collaborate on strategies to promote the growth, innovation and global expansion of Ontario’s film and television sector
- help ensure Ontario’s competitiveness as a top production jurisdiction by modernizing the suite of tax credits for screen-based productions
- seek opportunities to grow the culture sector within the framework of the Business Growth Initiative by working with partner ministries to foster innovation and help scale up companies:
- explore the development of entrepreneurship and commercialization programs designed for the arts and cultural industries, including the promotion of partnerships between firms and across sectors to share risk and maximize expertise
- explore the development of risk capital programs, designed with an entertainment focus, that reflect the business models and rapid product development cycles of the arts and cultural industries
- attract investment that increases Ontario’s productivity, creativity and global competitiveness in the culture sector
- explore opportunities to strengthen the use of design as a key competitive advantage in the knowledge economy, for example by promoting the application of design in manufacturing and technology
- accelerate the creation and adoption of new disruptive technologies  to strengthen the culture sector’s role in the knowledge economy
- work with the Ministry of Infrastructure and other ministries to inform the development of a long-term infrastructure plan for Ontario to better understand and work toward addressing the needs of the culture sector
- collaborate with government partners and the tourism industry to identify opportunities to grow cultural tourism in Ontario, including Francophone tourism and Indigenous-led tourism, and offer authentic and compelling visitor experiences
- continue to engage with the federal government to help ensure the health of Ontario’s broadcasting and production industries
Strategy 2 – Strengthen Ontario’s culture workforce
- develop a better understanding of the impact of the digital transformation on culture and as a first step work with partners to organize a digital culture symposium to bring together stakeholders from all culture sectors to share experiences and expertise, build capacity to address digital challenges and take advantage of new opportunities
- increase awareness and uptake of the Canada-Ontario Job Grant  among employers in the culture sector to assist them in developing their workforces through employer-led digital skills and other training
- help ensure that Ontario’s culture workforce is positioned to succeed in the knowledge economy by creating opportunities to enhance technical and business skills training and foster learning opportunities for arts and culture sector students and workers, for example through experiential learning, including internships and mentorships, and other forms of professional and skills development
- explore ways for provincial and federal immigration programs to contribute to the growth and success of Ontario’s culture sector and eliminate barriers to the successful integration of cultural workers
- engage federal, provincial and territorial culture partners on strategies to improve the socioeconomic status of artists and to improve support for culture-related infrastructure
- the Ontario government will develop more effective tools to help our culture sector compete in the digital world
- there will be more opportunities for Ontario government/industry collaboration to drive cultural industry productivity, innovation and exports
- there will be better coordination throughout the Ontario government to integrate the cultural industries into Ontario’s broader economic agenda
- more Ontarians will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the creative economy
Goal 4: Promote the value of the arts throughout government
Focus on enhancing the profile of the arts sector across government for the benefit of the sector and all Ontarians
Jurisdictions around the world have recognized that, in addition to their important intrinsic value, the arts contribute to our lives and our communities in many other ways. Ontario has more than 58,000 professional artists working in over 200 communities across the province. We will promote the contributions of artists and the broader arts sector throughout the Ontario government with an Arts Policy Framework. The Framework will build on the Status of Ontario’s Artists Act, which recognizes artists’ invaluable contributions to Ontario’s economy, quality of life and sense of identity.
Ontario’s diverse arts sector comprises:
- professional and amateur artists, including Indigenous and Francophone artists, artists who are Deaf and artists with disabilities
- both not-for-profit and commercial arts organizations, including facilities such as theatres, galleries and studios
- community arts councils and service and trade associations
- disciplines such as dance, literary arts, music, theatre, visual arts, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, and new art forms and practices often inspired by digital possibilities
- a large supporting workforce, including technicians, administrators, fundraisers, marketers and many others
- thousands of volunteers who assist arts organizations and provide leadership as board members
- arts educators and educational institutions and organizations
The Arts Policy Framework will help increase awareness within government of the size, scope and diversity of Ontario’s arts sector and of the many opportunities available to integrate the arts into a range of policy and program areas. In turn, this will create new opportunities for artists and arts organizations to engage with other sectors. The Framework will also encourage and support government ministries and agencies to consider the needs and potential contributions of artists and arts organizations when they develop or review policies and programs.
The Framework will provide a toolkit to all Ontario ministries and agencies that will include facts about Ontario’s arts sector, links to key sector organizations and associations, best practices and case studies, information on monitoring and measuring outcomes and links to additional resources.
One example of integrating the arts with other sectors is the Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario.  The Ontario Women’s Directorate has partnered with the Ontario Arts Council to deliver the $2.25 million fund. Professional artists, not-for-profit community organizations and sexual violence experts are collaborating to address the issues at the heart of sexual violence and harassment. By stimulating discussion, transforming perspectives, and offering new tools to name and take action on sexual violence and harassment, the fund’s artistic projects will help us imagine a better and healthier future. These are three of the 11 successful applicants to date, announced in May 2016:
- FESFO (Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne) is leading a project called “It’s Never Okay for Franco-Ontarian Youth,” a multidisciplinary arts program to engage Franco-Ontarian youth in dialogue and action on sexual violence and harassment
- LAMPHEAD is delivering a youth-led video animation project called “Get Consent” to explore the issue of consent and offer youth in downtown Toronto practical skills to make sure they have positive, healthy relationships
- The Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society’s “Witness” project is exploring, through dance, video and theatre performances, the stories of refugee women who have experienced sexual violence
Strategy – Inspire greater integration of the arts into public policy and programs
- develop an Arts Policy Framework in collaboration with Ontario’s culture agencies, actively promote the Framework to government ministries and agencies and monitor how well it is working
- the Arts Policy Framework will be a catalyst for creative and innovative integration of the arts to advance Ontario’s social and economic objectives
- awareness of Ontario’s diverse arts community will be increased within the Ontario government and its agencies
- Ontario government ministries and agencies will have more tools to consider the needs and contributions of artists and arts organizations in their policies and programs
- artists and arts organizations will have new opportunities to engage with other sectors in government
Implementing the Culture Strategy
The Culture Strategy contains actions to guide the government’s support for culture over the next five years. We can implement some actions in the short term, within the next one to two years. Two examples are bringing together government granting partners to share best practices and increase access and inclusion (Goal 1) and working with First Nation public libraries to better understand their unique needs (Goal 2).
Others actions will take longer because they require more input from partner ministries, agencies and stakeholders, engagement with Indigenous partners and communities and other levels of government, or policy and program development. Examples include developing a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts (Goal 2) and seeking opportunities to grow the culture sector within the framework of the Business Growth Initiative (Goal 3).
In the next phase of this initiative, we will develop a plan to guide the implementation of the Culture Strategy and track our progress in meeting its commitments.
Measuring and reporting on progress
The expected results for each goal in the Culture Strategy provide a broad idea of what we want to achieve. As we implement the Strategy, we will develop objectives that are more specific, along with performance measures for individual actions. In five years, we will publish a special progress report on the implementation of the Culture Strategy. This will allow us to take stock of what we have accomplished and what we still need to achieve.
Our agencies undertake their own planning processes to respond to changes and emerging needs and set their courses for the future. The Ontario Arts Council’s “Vital Arts and Public Value: A Blueprint for 2014-2020” and the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s new investment strategy, mentioned earlier, are two examples. All provincial agencies report on their activities through business plans, financial reports and annual reports. In addition, all agencies’ mandates undergo review at least every seven years to ensure that they are consistent with government priorities and policy objectives.
Continuing the dialogue
The Culture Strategy public engagement process began a conversation about the future of arts and culture in Ontario. Implementation of the Strategy will establish new channels of communication to continue the dialogue.
We will seek input from stakeholders and Indigenous partners about proposed changes at key implementation points, such as when we review funding programs and when we develop a framework to improve conservation of archaeological artifacts.
New avenues for in-depth discussion introduced in the Strategy include the public/private advisory panel to examine priority issues facing the film and television industry and an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous communities to address culture priorities.
Opportunities to collaborate, learn, exchange ideas and share expertise are other important ways for us to continue the dialogue and stimulate action. Culture and tourism agencies and attractions and Indigenous partners will explore ways to raise public awareness about Indigenous histories and contributions to arts and culture and the digital symposium for the culture sector will focus on sharing knowledge and strategies.
We learned a great deal through Culture Talks. As we implement Ontario’s Culture Strategy, continuing the dialogue will assist us in achieving the goals Ontarians helped us set. We will engage a great many individuals, partners, organizations and communities in that dialogue. We hope that by encouraging and facilitating broader collaboration and partnerships, the Culture Strategy will be a catalyst for renewed creative and economic energy in the culture sector and in communities across Ontario.
Appendix: Support for culture by the Ontario government (not in the pdf)
This selection of initiatives and programs demonstrates the intersection of culture with many other ministry mandates.
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport:
- Arts: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s primary vehicles for supporting the arts are its funding agencies, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). In addition, MTCSestablished, and remains the primary investor in, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (OCAF), a special-purpose body providing event marketing expertise and partially-repayable loans to organizations of all sizes to help them develop, promote, and present high-profile cultural tourism events and exhibitions. Over the years, MTCS has also made strategic capital investments in arts facilities around the province.
- Cultural industries: The Ministry works to build Ontario’s creative economy by supporting a dynamic business environment for the cultural industries. MTCS’s agency, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), administers provincial tax credits and provides essential business development services and funding for content creation and monetization. The music sector receives support through the (OMDC-administered Ontario Music Fund and the Ontario Live Music Strategy, a collaborative industry and government initiative aimed at growing and promoting the province’s live music industry. The Ministry engages with the federal government to advocate for a supportive federal environment for Ontario’s cultural industries and has made strategic investments in key industry events and institutions, such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Canadian Film Centre.
- Public Libraries: The Ministry supports Ontario’s public and First Nation public libraries through legislation, funding and other services. The Public Libraries Act enables municipalities to establish public libraries and ensures that services remain free. The Ministry provides annual operating grants to all public libraries, salary supplement grants to First Nation public libraries and targeted funding for key priorities such as digital services and alternative format materials for people with print disabilities. The Ministry also provides support through the Ontario Library Service agencies, which help to increase cooperation and coordination among public library boards and provide training and development services, as well as other key programs. Through the Annual Survey of Public Libraries, the Ministry provides the sector with important statistical information, such as data on the ways in which Ontarians use library resources and services. As well, the Ministry recognizes innovative, dynamic and modern public library services through the annual Public Library Service Awards.
- Cultural heritage: The Ontario Heritage Act sets out provincial and municipal roles in heritage conservation, and establishes a framework for licensing archaeologists. The Ministry supports the sector by providing technical advice to municipalities, land use planners, consultant archaeologists and heritage professionals, and maintaining databases on archaeological sites and provincial heritage properties. The Ministry also provides operating funding to community museums, historical societies and heritage organizations to promote public awareness of Ontario’s rich and diverse heritage. The Ontario Heritage Trust, the lead heritage agency for the Ministry, acquires property and enters into conservation easements, provides education about heritage through their museum sites, and promotes cultural heritage conservation through their various awards and plaque programs.
- Cultural Tourism: The Tourism Division supports cultural tourism development through the delivery of the Celebrate Ontario program and Tourism Development Fund. Celebrate Ontario provides project-based programming and marketing funding to new or existing Ontario events to enhance programs, activities and services that lead to long-term improvements, sustainability and the attraction of additional tourists. The Tourism Development Fund provides project-based funding to initiatives that encourage tourism investment, tourism product development and industry capacity building. Through a regional tourism approach, the Ministry provides annual funding to 13 Regional Tourism Organizations that support marketing and product development through local partnerships and collaboration.