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City of Toronto commits more than $1.2 million in cultural and economic investments to confront anti-Black racism


July 24, 2020 | City of Toronto |

Today, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto is making multiple investments in Toronto’s Black arts and culture community and business sector to address the systemic economic, social and cultural exclusion facing Black communities in Toronto.

Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee as well as Alica Hall, Executive Director of Nia Centre for the Arts, and Ashley McKenzie-Barnes, prominent Toronto artist, creative director and independent curator.

In addition to specific, targeted investments spanning business and culture, Mayor Tory also committed to establish a Community Accountability Circle, with key leaders from the Black business and cultural communities to co-develop goals and programs to confront anti-Black racism.

This year, the City will make the following investments in arts, heritage and creative industries to confront anti-Black Racism:
– Support key Black heritage organizations through the re-allocation of $300,000 in funding, along with technical assistance and access to safe, affordable and accessible space at City-run museums and heritage sites
– As part of the City’s initiatives to address anti-Black racism, the Toronto History Museums will reopen with a new programming philosophy of anti-oppressive practice, advocacy and storytelling to connect the public to art, creativity and innovation to work with Black communities and creatives in reshaping culture and build room for self-reflection and accountability
– Commit $300,000 to expand workforce development initiatives with key industry partners that accelerate the career pathways for Black youth in creative industries with a focus on screen-based industries (such as film, television, and on-demand, commercial and digital content), including management roles
– Reallocate an additional $300,000 to support the career development of Black professionals in arts and culture with a focus on connecting community-based training programs and post-secondary institutions with sustainable employment opportunities
– Work with the Toronto Arts Council to identify $300,000 in reallocated 2020 funding and ongoing funding moving forward to support the Black arts community with initiatives designed through consultation with the Black arts community
– Ensure that City funding for arts, heritage and cultural organizations is prioritized for organizations that reflect the diversity of this city in their leadership and operations, supports smaller and often newer organizations to increase their reach and impact, and addresses social and economic exclusion

The City will also make the following economic development investments to confront anti-Black racism:
– Provide $250,000 over five years, or $50,000 annually, to support the Black Innovation Fellowship offered by the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University which supports tech entrepreneurs
– Develop a five-year community economic development plan for Black communities while continuing to support established initiatives such as those in Weston Mount Dennis, Golden Mile, Little Jamaica and East Downtown

Since January, the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Economic Development and Culture division have been developing opportunities to increase support for Toronto’s Black creative communities. Today’s immediate commitments, aligned with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Action Plan, will support broader City-wide efforts to confront anti-Black racism and address Black community needs, which have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City recognizes the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024). The Decade was established as a way for the international community to recognize people of African descent as a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected. The goals of the Decade are recognition, justice and development.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

Quotes:

“I am proud to announce these new initiatives which directly impact our Black creative community and will help provide opportunities for Black artists in our city. It is important that as a city we look at finding ways to address systemic racism within the services we provide. For many years, there has not been a focus on how we can deliver our services better and through a more equitable and inclusive lens. This announcement will change that by shifting our focus to address the gaps we are seeing in funding for the development of Black artists and the Black community.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory

“Through our Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit along with City divisions, we are identifying and supporting initiatives that help Toronto’s Black residents, businesses, community organizations, and arts and heritage sectors to overcome systemic disadvantages and more fairly share in the City’s success.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture, and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit http://www.toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.

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