Equity Priority Groups

Toronto Arts Foundation acknowledges that there are a number of historically disadvantaged groups that confront barriers to full participation in Canadian society and the national arts sector. In order to address the most underserved communities, the Foundation has identified specific equity-seeking groups that have experienced especially restricted access to arts programming and support. These communities have been designated as equity priority groups and specific equity measures have been adopted to ensure their full inclusion in the Foundation's award  programs, initiatives and operations. Note that these are the same equity priority groups as identified by TAC for its grants programs.

In naming its equity priority groups, the Foundation acknowledges that these communities are by no means mutually exclusive. Individuals may self-identify as belonging to more than one equity-seeking group. The Foundation also understands that the intersectional nature of social identities such as race, class and gender may result in individuals experiencing multiple, interconnected layers of oppression related to both visible (e.g. colour, physical disability, etc.) and invisible (e.g. sexuality, mental illness, etc.) difference. Individual members of equity-seeking groups may therefore experience varying degrees of disadvantage, discrimination, power or privilege, and may require different considerations or accommodations for equity to be achieved.

It should be noted that the Foundation strives to be responsive to the changing population of Toronto and to the shifting needs of equity-seeking communities that face barriers or other forms of discrimination and disadvantage. As such, the Foundation may, from time to time, add or change its roster of designated equity priority groups in order to address identified funding gaps and ensure that its programs remain relevant and receptive to Toronto’s evolving arts sector.

The Foundation's current Equity Priority Groups are listed below in alphabetical order:

Persons of Colour

The Foundation's definition of persons of colour includes individuals of African, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and mixed racial descent[1] and corresponds with the Government of Canada's "visible minority" designation (e.g. persons other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.).

Note that the Foundation acknowledges that Persons of Colour is an umbrella term for a diverse spectrum of racialized peoples who have experienced vastly different historical disadvantages and barriers to participation in Canadian society and the arts sector, and recognizes its use as a term to build understanding and solidarity between people.

Deaf Persons, Persons with Disabilities and Persons Living with Mental Illness

Deaf persons include individuals who are culturally-Deaf, deaf, or have hearing loss, as well as those who identify as hard-of-hearing, oral-deaf, deaf-blind or late-deafened. Persons with disabilities and persons living with mental illness include individuals with physical, psychosocial or learning disabilities that may be long-term, temporary or fluctuating and may or may not be apparent.[2]


Indigenous refers to Canadian Aboriginal people who self-define as First Nations (Status or Non-status), M├ętis or Inuit.  The Foundation also acknowledges Indigenous people from all other regions of the world. Indigenous people are those who have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies and consider themselves distinct from the dominant societies in which they live. 


2SLGBTQIAP refers to individuals who self-identify as two-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, or pansexual.

In addition to its strategic focus on these equity priority groups, the Foundation has implemented various programs and partnerships to increase access and participation by:

  • Torontonians outside the downtown core
  • newcomer and refugees, and;
  • young and emerging artists. 

[1] Mixed racial descent refers to individuals who belong to more than one ethnic or racial group, including one of the aforementioned groups.

[2] Note that the Foundation subscribes to the social model of disability, which views disability as a consequence of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society, as opposed to the medical model of disability that focuses on an individual person’s so-called physical or mental limitations. (Adapted from the Public Service Alliance of Canada's definitions of models of disability.)

Toronto Arts Foundation Equity Framework

Equity at Toronto Arts Foundation & Toronto Arts Council: A Brief History
Equity Guiding Principles
Equity Priority Groups
Key Equity Policies and Practices
Implementing Equity