Josh Matlow’s Toronto includes culture, creativity and community

Mayoral candidate’s plan will animate the city and grow our arts and culture sector 

May 23, 2023 – Josh Matlow announced today that, as Mayor, he will invest in and support Toronto’s thriving arts and culture sector with a broad plan to animate our city and promote Culture, Creativity + Community. Matlow’s plan recognizes that Toronto’s vital arts and culture sector delivers $11 billion in GDP to our economy every year, employs thousands of Torontonians and brings people together. However, the sector has not yet fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I have a deep connection to the arts and I believe that great cities are arts and culture cities,” said Matlow. “Our performing artists, our public art and museums, our film and entertainment industries represent the diversity, creativity and aspirations of our city. As Mayor, I will work together with our artists and art organizations to invest in and champion Toronto as an inclusive, creative city and global cultural destination.”

In the 2023 City of Toronto budget, City Council agreed to sustain current arts and culture funding levels, despite the City’s own financial challenges. While this was welcomed by many in the community, financial concerns continue to threaten the sector’s growth and vibrancy and more support is needed. 

The Toronto Arts Council, the City of Toronto’s funding body for artists and arts organizations, reports that significant inflation and ongoing pandemic-related costs present considerable challenges for the arts community. Our city’s newcomer and refugee artists are the fastest growing group in Toronto’s arts community and face the most barriers. Arts organizations are facing an arts space crisis due to a severe shortage of affordable, suitable, safe spaces to create and present their work.

Matlow’s Culture, Creativity + Community plan will:

  • Join the Toronto Arts Council to advocate for a federal basic income guarantee for gig workers in the arts who rely on precarious short-term contracts combined with a lack of access to benefits, paid sick leave or employment insurance.
  • Increase the City’s per capita spending on arts and culture by 2 per cent annually, or $13.5 million over the next three years, to account for the
  • increasing cost to rent spaces and live in our city. The funds will come from a reduction in the City’s consulting spend by $14 million.
  • Direct the new 2 per cent hotel tax increase towards investments in arts and culture.
  • Create more affordable spaces for artists and community culture events by opening up public space in local schools and libraries.
  • Remove unreasonable restrictions on street performers and musicians to support local artists and create more vibrant, fun and engaging public spaces.
  • Expedite the development of the City’s festivals strategy to ensure the City is taking an active role in supporting festivals and events of a variety of sizes and scopes that engage diverse audiences in every part of the city.
  • Expedite the development of the City’s next Culture Plan, slated for 2024, so we can urgently learn from Toronto’s arts and culture community about what measures the City can take to address affordability and help the sector recover. Ensure this plan supports marginalized groups who have faced systemic barriers to accessing arts space and funding to create and present their work.
  • Reduce red tape for film studio expansion and artistic events.
  • Actively promote the City’s film and television sector locally and across North America to sustain Toronto as a leading destination for production and post-production.
  • Grow our film and television talent pool by promoting jobs in the sector through Toronto Employment and Social Services and supporting opportunities through organizations like the Toronto Arts Council.

“Arts and culture are key drivers in rebuilding our social fabric and mental health as we emerge from the pandemic. When we invest in and grow our arts and culture sector we drive economic growth, support the livelihood of thousands of Torontonians and improve the quality of life for everyone who lives here,” said Matlow.  

To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit



Over 100,000 Torontonians are employed in the arts and culture sector. The film and television sector in Toronto employs 35,000 Torontonians and production spend amounts to over $2 billion. Major expansion of studio space will help increase the growth of our film and television sector. In 2021, the screen industry brought in 1,468 productions and over 7,800 production days across the city.

City funding on arts and culture is done on a per capita basis. Currently the funding is $25 per capita based on the 2017 Statistics Canada census, which amounts to spending of approximately $73 million. A 2-per-cent annual increase to the per capita amount, with an estimated annual population growth rate for the city of 1 per cent, amounts to a total increase over the next three years of approximately $13.5 million.

This funding will be offset by a reduction in the City’s consulting spend over the next three years. In 2022, the City spent $59 million on external consultants, which is $14 million more than in 2021.