About the Ontario Arts Foundation

We work with arts patrons to build long-term support for the arts in Ontario

Building a Foundation for the Arts in Ontario

In 2016, the Ontario Arts Foundation celebrated 25 years of serving the arts and artists in Ontario.  Our partners in this endeavour have been philanthropists and patrons of the arts who have set up funds and served on our board of directors, various levels of government through matching funds, and the arts organizations themselves. As these funds have borne fruit, artists have been encouraged and recognized through awards and scholarships, and their projects brought to life through the arts organizations which also benefitted in the course of making provision for their future needs. As we plot our course over the next twenty-five years, we are passionately committed to working towards the increased stability of the arts infrastructure in Ontario, giving our artists the deep foundations they need to reach for the stars and reflect the multifaceted aspects of our collective spirit.

Who We Are

The Ontario Arts Foundation was established in 1991 as a public foundation to encourage and facilitate private giving to the arts in Ontario. We are a nongovernmental foundation and a registered charity (charitable registration number: 89085 6370 RR0001). The Foundation holds over 300 endowments and funds established by individuals, private foundations, corporations and arts organizations. We focus on investments to support the arts in Ontario over the long term.

  • 321 funds
  • $72 million in assets
  • $54.7 million paid out under the Arts Endowment Fund program
  • $10.7 million paid out in awards and scholarships


Arts Endowment Fund Program

A special incentive for donors to make a lasting contribution to the arts was offered through the Arts Endowment Fund Program (AEF), a matching program the Ontario Ministry of Culture administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation. During the program, arts organizations across Ontario established endowment funds, attracting $60 million in matching funds. Over the last 17 years, more than $54 million in income has been paid out in support of arts organizations in Ontario.

Canada Cultural Investment Fund, Endowment Incentives Component

The Ontario Arts Foundation invests matching funds received on behalf of arts organizations who contributed to their endowments under a program offered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. Arts organizations jointly apply for matching funds from the Federal government. Since the program began in 2002, matching grants total $5.6 million. We encourage donors and arts organizations to identify opportunities where long-term gifts can leverage this ongoing matching opportunity. 

Private Funds, Awards, Scholarships

Special awards, prizes and scholarships recognize excellence in the arts while reflecting the interests of arts patrons and their creative approaches to supporting the arts. Since 1991, 30 private funds, awards and scholarship programs have been established, from which $10.7 million in awards and scholarships have been paid out.

Investing in the Arts

Combining extensive knowledge of the arts in Ontario with efficient administration and a flexible approach, we work with arts patrons to help them develop strategies that reflect their philanthropic goals while providing continuing support over the long term.

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages over 300 endowment funds with a market value of $72 million. In 2016, the Ontario Arts Foundation paid out $3.0 million in support of the arts in Ontario. While each fund is dedicated to a specific purpose, funds are pooled for investment purposes. The Board of Directors has established an investment Policy Statement to govern the investing of foundation assets, which are managed by three investment management firms.

A strong working relationship with our sister organization, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), brings additional value to our administration of awards and scholarships. For some awards, we work closely with OAC staff and use their peer assessment principle in developing criteria and in administering the selection process.

The Ontario Arts Foundation operates with a small staff and a 12-member volunteer board. For more information about the Ontario Arts Foundation and its proven track record in managing endowments, please contact Alan Walker, Executive Director, or refer to our website

Private Funds, Awards and Scholarships








Geographical Diversity of Arts Endowment Fund Organizations 

Audited Financial Statement (PDF)


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