The Oakville Arts Council is a not-for-profit charitable organization that was formed in November 1978. The Oakville Arts Council is a strong member-driven community arts council and has its roots in the community’s history of collaboratively creating and supporting a strong desire for arts and culture in Oakville. An early step occurred in 1973 when a collaboration of seven local performing arts groups came together to create a representative committee, the Performing Arts Development Group. By 1978 the need became clear for an effective umbrella organization to enable not only the performing arts but also a wider array of creative artists including writing and publishing, visual arts, cultural and heritage groups.
Today, we consist of a membership of over 250 professional and community performing arts groups, arts businesses and individual artists in Heritage & Culture, Literary Arts, Performing Arts, Media Arts, and Visual Arts. Now in our 32nd year, the Oakville Arts Council continues to enable the success of arts and culture in the community and is the most comprehensive resource for Oakville’s ever-expanding list of arts and culture members and organizations.
The Oakville Arts Council's mission to cultivate the arts and enrich the creative life of Oakville focuses on our role as a community arts catalyst and leader. Therefore, the Oakville Arts Council seeks innovative community partnerships to strengthen the awareness and participation in our local Arts. We engage with the Town of Oakville, the Region of Halton, the Oakville Tourism Partnership, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and local BIAs, Sheridan College, the Oakville Community Foundation and the local media, to enhance the communications and opportunities for our members and the Arts in Oakville.
In the last three years, the Oakville Arts Council has re-focused our services to membership and the community. We have moved away from arts programming, with the philosophy that it is our arts-makers who do the arts programming and the Oakville Arts Council that will advocate, enable, communicate and look for various opportunities to service and sustain the sector.
Over the years the Oakville Arts Council has helped groups like Monday Night @ the Movies, World of Threads, ArtWorks Oakville, West End Studio Theatre, RBC Festival of Classics and the Oakville Poetry Alliance to create structure for their organizations. Services to artistic colleagues include dissemination of information, advice regarding resources (human, funding, information, space, governance etc.) and the involvement of professional artists in community projects. Success is measured by formal evaluation, attraction of new members, volunteer support, and municipal and provincial recognition and support.
Each year, in partnership with the Town of Oakville, we offer workshop opportunities to our members.
In addition, we connect artists to creative opportunities is though Art Connections. ArtConnections, a part of our monthly e-newsletter, creates opportunities for our members to connect with calls for entry, employment, funding, networking, workshops, volunteers, space, etc. This type of communication has been very effective.
“The Arts Council sent out the call (Art Connections) and her friend saw it there and forwarded to her. So thank you Bernie and Megan” Elka Enola, Oakville Poetry Alliance (on hiring a grant writer)
“Wow! What a great service! Thank you!” Leslie Comassar, Uncommon Threads
Annually we present the “Cogeco Stars Among Us – Oakville’s Arts Awards”. This is the Oakville Arts Council main fundraising event, highlighting the excellence and supporting local arts in our community. Cash awards are presented each year to local artists – an award for each category: Literary Arts, Performing Arts, Media Arts, Visual Arts and a Young Artist Award. Beginning in 2012 we will also be presenting a Arts Organization Award.
The Arts Council facilitates volunteers - approximately 160 registered volunteers - and 40 actively volunteering with the Oakville Arts Council (on committees or day-to-day office help).
The Oakville Arts Council serves the artists of Oakville and surrounding communities who are our members. Our aim is to help build audience and awareness of the arts. We communicate the diversity and quality of the arts in Oakville to the community at large. We particularly try to reach out to new growth areas of north Oakville, to multicultural organizations and to programs and organizations serving the artistic aspirations of Oakville youth.
Our many and varied partnerships include working closely with the Town of Oakville staff, particularly with the Mayor's office. Oakville’s Senior Manager, Cultural Heritage is an ex-officio member of our board of directors, and the Council is represented on planning committees of Town programs such as the Cultural Advisory Committee and the Cultural Roundtable. Yearly, since 1989, we have administered the Cultural Grants Program on behalf of the Town of Oakville.
Contribution to Community
The Oakville Arts Council provides services to individual members, practicing professionals, non-profit groups as well as to businesses, the media, service clubs, other community organizations, and the public at large.
We also publish an on-line arts directory, an excellent resource for anyone in the community wanting to connect with someone in the arts and culture sector. It is also a significant promotional tool for all the visual, dramatic, and musical artists in our membership.
To non-profit community arts groups, we offer networking to promote partnership opportunities and professional development seminars. We are also a resource for group members to publicize plays, concerts, museum exhibits, stage shows, etc. through our community calendars and to help find space for rehearsals and performances through our space directory. In our communications hub we share resources with our members and look for opportunities to facilitate their needs, encouraging cross-pollination and efficiencies.
The Oakville Arts Council advocates for arts funding from the Town of Oakville and is a resource to the arts community through convening the municipal Cultural Grants Committee to make recommendations for the distribution of grant money.
The Arts Council rents space in Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre at 2302 Bridge Road, having moved from the Central Branch Library location in February 2012. QEP is designated as the cultural hub of Oakville and our presence there provides us with the opportunity to connect regularly with our members as well as the general public, providing in-person member consultations and communication with visitors to this one-of-a-kind location.
Evaluation of Service
The Oakville Arts Council evaluates our success in several ways: number of members, number of volunteers, hits on the website, number of personal visits and telephone inquiries, number of successful grant applications and sponsorships, number of partnerships created with other community groups, interest and ideas of board and committee members, and feedback from the general public and sponsors.