Published April 14, 2020

OAAG Advocating for the Visual Arts Sector in COVID19 Crisis

Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) is the leading voice of the Public Art Galleries in advocacy to the government and its agencies represents over 270 members belonging to the Public Art Galleries sector across 63 communities throughout the province of Ontario. Continuing its 50-year long advocacy work, in the current COVID-19 crisis, OAAG is aligned with Canadian Arts Coalition, a larger umbrella network of national and provincial Art Service Organizations (ASOs), actively collaborating on all cross-sectoral matters nationally. 

Canada’s ASOs are working for the long haul towards a sectoral recovery circumspect of the fact that prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the prevailing precarity of the larger sector signalled a crisis and was amplified in multiple sub-sectors, especially Public Art Galleries. 

Despite a provincial membership, OAAG’s work is increasingly national in its scope and is currently Federally funded for national projects. OAAG completed a two-phase survey of its sector to understand the immediate impact of the crisis. The results were stark and were shared with the media, governments and their agencies highlighting the conservative estimate of up to $13 Mn loss in short-term revenues. Similarly, OAAG has also completed the Impact Survey on ASOs nationally, the results of which will be released this week.

OAAG has produced Impact Surveys on the sector, engaging the stakeholders, as well as offering data input, expertise and advice to the Government, its agencies and other stakeholders. This is part of the ongoing process of developing and understanding the ask for the sector from the federal government. Our inputs are actively sought by the government. OAAG has a new digital platform created for membership and stakeholders  COVID19 Response Platform to further augment the efforts and centralize information.

As ASOs we offer a macro outlook. Our continuous work year-round offers us enough granularity of the details of the sector’s needs and gaps. This granularity, apart from direct funding, has been addressed at different government levels including policy, legislation and funding asks in different avenues and fora. This work is complex as neither the Arts nor the whole Arts & Culture, or for that matter, even the sub-sector domains such as Public Art Galleries are not homogenous, and one needs to avail the deep and nuanced knowledge of the ASOs and their work. 

OAAG supports and continues to work under the bigger umbrella brought together by the Canadian Arts Coalition to augment and support its efforts instead of creating a new front, fracturing the strong voice of the Coalition which is loud and actively engaging the Government, its agencies and stakeholders.




Phone: (416)598-0714

Quotes of Zainub Verjee, Executive Director of OAAG:

“ We want to ensure that the needs of Public Art Galleries are explicitly addressed in crisis mitigation, business continuity and recovery planning and the funds are allocated to the Visual Arts within the current and prospect relief measures for COVID-19 Crisis.”

OAAG is working on developing the ask for the relief and recovery for the Visual Arts Sector. The Visual Arts Sector is a complex ecosystem consisting of visual artists, art professionals, art businesses such as art transportation, art publishers and other allied professions. The contribution of this sector to the economy is substantial and hence the sustainability of the sector is critical to hundreds of art professionals, businesses, associations, institutions and artists.”

“OAAG calls for a Public Art Galleries Fund that addresses the gap in the mitigation of crisis and to ensure the business continuity to enable a sustainable recovery of a fragile sector.”