On the 10th of January, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto has opened applications for a new Cultural Festivals Funding Program (CFFP), which aims to increase the accessibility, accountability and transparency of City funding to cultural festivals. The City is taking this action in recognition of the significant role that cultural festivals play in the vibrancy, liveability and prosperity of Toronto, as well as their close relationship to the City given reliance on City permits, services and funding. CFFP is one way the City is supporting economic recovery for the arts and culture sector along with communities, businesses and marginalized community event organizations who have been impacted by COVID-19.
A cultural festival is defined as a collection of arts and cultural activities presented over a minimum of a one-day period with a common theme. A cultural festival may be devoted to one or more artistic discipline and be produced annually or once every two years. The cultural festival should be primarily free to the public, take place in the public realm, have general appeal and a public profile. In recognition of the varying levels of size, capacity and community impact of festivals, CFFP includes three streams: multi-year operating, annual operating and project grants. Different eligibility criteria apply to each stream. Applicants may only apply to the stream for which they meet all eligibility criteria.
CFFP was developed in consultation with stakeholders and communities seeking City support, and meets the City’s commitment to improve grant processes, increase access for diverse cultural communities and support activities outside of the downtown core. Designed to support the development of the festival sector, the program also promotes access, equity, inclusion and service innovation. City Council approved the establishment of the program in November 2021.
Base funding of $1.78 million for the Cultural Festivals Funding program is included in the 2022 Operating Budget Submission for Economic Development and Culture. The funding for this program is comprised of annual operating commitments of $1.28 million that were made to organizations previously funded under the festivals component of the Major Cultural Organizations program plus an enhancement of $500,000 that was approved in the 2020 and 2021 EDC Operating Budgets. In 2020,this enhanced funding was disbursed under the one-time Cultural Festivals Recovery Program. In 2021, it was allocated to the ShowLoveTO initiative.
Applications for CFFP will be assessed according to criteria including: cultural vitality; public impact and citizen engagement; organizational capacity, resiliency and public health; and financial sustainability. Applications for all three streams will close February 11, 2022. Verbal notification of funding to recipients by March 31, 2022, funds released in April 2022. This timing ensures that the City will be able to confirm funding for successful applications ahead of summer festivals, who rely on funding for planning and festival expenses.
Online information sessions about the application process will be held on January 11 and January 18. More information about CFFP, eligibility criteria, program guidelines and application are available at Toronto.ca/CultureGrants.
“The City of Toronto has long provided significant annual operating funds to established cultural festivals. There have been growing requests from more recently established festivals to access the same City supports and funding, including festival producers from outside the city core and from diverse cultural communities. This program is accessible and transparent and will help drive the economic and social recovery of the City from the pandemic as we look ahead with optimism to summer festivals. I invite eligible applicants to review CFFP guidelines and apply.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Cultural festivals are essential to the spirit of our multicultural city. Providing opportunities for newly established festivals to access the same funding as established events recognizes the importance of such festivals to a rich and dynamic cultural scene. I urge you to review our Cultural Festival Funding Program guidelines to see if your festival is eligible for financial support.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee