Director of Granting Programs
Ontario Arts Council
151 Bloor St., W., 5th Floor
Toronto, M5S 1T6
February 6, 2012
RE: An Open Letter Regarding OAC Policies and the Impact on Media Arts
I am writing on behalf of the Media Arts Network of Ontario/Réseau des arts médiathiques de l’Ontario (MANO/RAMO), representing a diverse membership of media arts organizations across the province.
This letter is to follow up on a number of points that were made during a productive meeting MANO/RAMO Board and staff representatives had with OAC granting officers Mark Haslam (Media Arts) and Aengus Finnan (Touring) on February 2, 2012. During that meeting, MANO/RAMO brought attention to key points of concern that were raised by our membership at our November Annual General Meeting. The key issues discussed, and that we would like to bring to your attention, include:
1) New policy regarding Financial Engagment for grants over $10,000:
The implementation of this policy is a great concern to a number of our members who are receiving operating funding of $20,000 or less. The cost of a financial engagement comprises more than 10% of their OAC grant amount and poses an unanticipated financial and administrative burden for organizations already
operating at maximum capacity with a staff component of one or two individuals. The notification and implementation period of this policy change meant that these organizations did not have the opportunity to budget for the additional cost incurred during their current fiscal year. We request that the OAC consider revisiting this policy and its long‐term implications for organizations. With the threshold set at $10,000, organizations may find themselves spending more than 20% of their grant amount on accounting. At the very least, we request that the OAC consider a one-year implementation period for this policy, providing adequate opportunity for organizations to budget for the additional cost.
2) Touring Program Requirements Lead to Reduced Applications from Media Arts
It has come to our attention that a number of our member organizations are not applying for touring grants due to the program requirements, which are not compatible with the challenges of taking media arts programming on tour. Having undertaken a media arts tour itself, the OAC has knowledge of the specific audience building, education and outreach still required to create media arts awareness in all regions of the province, particularly those outside urban centres. The touring requirement for host/community organizations to pay all artist fees, and the focus on box office sales, are particular obstacles for organizations working with communities to provide access to media arts programming. The disciplines included under the touring umbrella are diverse and we suggest that one set of guidelines may not meet the specific needs of all organizations. We request that the OAC revisit this policy and its impact on media arts organizations and the touring opportunities available to them.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the OAC for its work in supporting the arts in Ontario and MANO/RAMO’s mandate to foster a strengthened media arts sector in the province. We offer these recommendations in the spirit of collaboration and out of respect for our shared goals in fostering a vibrant and responsive arts community in Ontario.
Managing Director, MANO/RAMO