Imagine a city where our local artists don’t scrape by, they thrive. It’s also a place where we invest in, and celebrate our diverse neighbourhoods and world class libraries. Where we work towards ensuring every citizen can enrich their lives with arts and culture.

Toronto used to be a place where artists, creators, and small business succeed. It can be once again, and here’s how we’re going to do it.

Plan Highlights

  • Fostering our brilliant artists. Artists are one of the most important parts of a community. We need to support our talent, and help them not just survive, but thrive.
  • Investing in our communities, showcasing our small businesses. One of the best parts of Toronto is our mosaic of cultures and the businesses. It’s a defining feature of the City, and we have a plan to make sure it continues to be.
  • Platforming our world class library system. Toronto has one of the best library systems in the world, and we often take it for granted. We don’t just plan to support them, but making sure they become the center of our communities’ growth.

The Problem

Toronto has been tackling crisis-after-crisis and it’s made us hyper focused on essentials. We often only focus on issues with a direct economic benefit, neglecting the things that make a city great. Arts and culture are those things.

Our City has become far too expensive for artists and creators to dream big. Studios are closing across the City, leaving them without space to practice. Painters, musicians, industrial designers, and a list that goes on forever. Toronto loves a success story, celebrating when our talent makes it on the global stage. However, we fail to realize our city is filled with some of the best artists in the world — but we don’t support them when they need it most. Let’s fix it.

Toronto is a City of immigrants. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we welcome everyone with open arms. We travel to communities like Little Tibet, Greektown, Little Jamaica, or Chinatown, usually for great food. What we often forget is these aren’t just quaint small businesses that will be missed if we lose them. These are diasporas that provide a slice of home to new immigrants. It helps ease the transition of moving across the world, which isn’t an easy decision. We’re quickly losing these businesses and they need help. Let’s fix it.

Our amazing library system is one of the best in the world. That’s not an exaggeration. Few places have anything like it. It’s a wealth of information, a community hub, and resource for people that need a little space. As the world transitions from books, we need to emphasize that we’ll lose more than just a place to borrow books. We need to highlight the amazing job Toronto’s public libraries do, and ensure they have the funds to continue.

The Solutions

Arts and culture primarily produce qualitative improvements to our lives. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to the economy. On the contrary, they drive much of the value in our cities, it’s just not obvious. It’s a complex topic, and we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t dive into the details in a more granular way in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s a taste of our plan.

Creating A Place For Artists In Our Communities

The number one problem we’ve heard from artists fleeing the City is the cost of space. They don’t have access to affordable housing nor the space to practice their craft. Let’s fix it.

Housing we plan to address through a limited pilot of specialized spaces within City-owned housing we’ll make. We can run these units at cost, creating an affordable and stable place for them to foster their talent. Artists don’t want handouts — they’re some of the hardest working people in a city. They want a stable place to call home, and somewhere they don’t have to worry about getting priced out of.

Once again, this bears repeating to critics of art funding— this isn’t a handout, it’s crisis mitigation. It’s also a great way to keep talent in the City and inject energy into neighbourhoods.

The strategy isn’t just something we picked out of hat. This is a strategy New York City used in the 1970s to turn it into the global creative hub it is today. Artists are essential to a city’s soul, driving many of the factors that make cities attractive in the first place. By doing this, we’re able to support the development of what will be one of Toronto’s biggest revenue sources. New York’s program is responsible for helping people like Larry David, Alicia Keys, and Samuel L. Jackson. It was an unremarkable, no-frills building that played an essential role in the success of remarkable talent.

While some artists can practice their craft in their housing, not all can. That’s why we plan to build artist accelerators. Space for artists to practice their crafts, and building community. The space will also have limited hours on the weekend where we can showcase this talent and the public can shop. We have a cost-neutral plan that will leverage our ability to negotiate commercial spaces that are now sitting vacant.

We can also leverage the City’s reach to promote these artist-run communities. Let’s create a sustainable and thriving revenue source for artists to turn their talent into careers. Let’s show the world what we’ve got, one artist at a time.

Supporting Local Businesses By Supporting Festivals

One of the best parts of Toronto is the self-organized communities that form. Little Italy, Chinatown, the Distillery… well, you don’t need us to list them all. Currently the City has 83 self-governed Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) made up of commercial and industrial property owners and non-residential tenants to help local businesses. They do a fantastic job on their own, but they need help to ensure they survive the double-recession.

The City currently provides some support but we could do a lot better. We plan to assist in organizing and promoting local festivals to highlight these communities. Within the next 4 years, we want everyone in Toronto to know what makes every community great, and how much value they provide. Let’s build thriving communities and celebrate their local businesses.

Let’s Go To The Library! Seriously, They Have Way More Than Just Books

Friendly, fun, and free — Toronto has one of the best library systems in the world. We often take this for granted, but even tourists remark on how amazing of a system we provide. Let’s revive these community hubs, and ensure they remain the center of your neighbourhoods.

Whether you’re a student looking for a quiet place to work, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a parent looking for support — libraries can be essential tools. They can build communities, provide support, or transition you to a new career.

Toronto thrives when its residents thrive. Let’s turn our library system into a tool to facilitate our growth, and ensure equitable distribution. The library system doesn’t need to be fixed, it’s fantastic. What we need to fix is our perception of them.