Helping Toronto's Artists Survive COVID-19

Igniting community to support TO Artist COVID-19 Response Fund

TORONTO, March 26, 2020 – With thousands of artists suddenly thrown out of work by COVID-19, Toronto Arts Foundation is partnering with Toronto Arts Council to help provide immediate relief.

Toronto is a City of Arts, with over 30,000 performances and events annually. This activity is now at a standstill.

Today we launched the TOArtist COVID Response Fund. The Fund is an emergency support program that will help Toronto artists who have lost income as a result of COVID-19 arts cancellations. 

Major donors and partners have generously kick-started the campaign with collective contributions to date of over $500,000 - enough to provide grants for more than 500 artists. Every additional dollar will increase the number of artists supported. HXOUSE, Toronto’s globally focused think-center, is contributing its extensive social media platform to get the word out to Toronto’s artists.

100% of all funds donated will go directly to artists, including musicians, actors, writers, dancers, community and visual artists — all of whom face potentially devastating financial strains due to loss of income from cancelled events and performances.

The need for an emergency relief fund for artists is great. Consider this:

  • a minimum of ten thousand artists were thrown out of work, as thousands of Toronto arts performances and events have been cancelled for March and April alone
  • artists usually do not qualify for EI because they are self-employed
  • plan B for many artists is to work in the hospitality industry which is now also shut down
  • the median annual income for artists in Toronto is $30,000, which is so far below Toronto’s cost of living, most cannot rely on prior savings

This is the largest artist-relief fundraiser to be launched in Toronto, home to more than twice as many artists as any other Canadian city.

The Fund will be administered jointly by Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council. Applications are being accepted from artists whose performances or events have been cancelled: apply here for grants of up to $1,000.

Donations are gratefully accepted through the Toronto Arts Foundation website. All costs associated with processing payments will be covered by the Foundation and its partners.

The goal is to help as many artists as possible as quickly as possible. Qualifying artists will each receive up to $1,000 (about half a month’s rent). Artists who are seeking relief may apply through a simplified online application portal, and the first grants will go out by mid-April.

If you are an arts supporter - please don’t stop supporting your favorite arts organizations! They need you more than ever. Your additional one-time contribution to this Response Fund, will help sustain the talent that fuels the sector.

If you are an audience member - please consider contributing what you might normally spend at the theatre, film or concert hall in these weeks. 

If you work in the arts sector and are among the fortunate who have not lost your income - please stand in solidarity with your colleagues and demonstrate the support we know you feel.

“Every day since the beginning of this crisis, Toronto's brilliant, productive artists have been turning to us for help as they struggle to pay the rent, buy groceries and simply survive” says Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation. “We know that artists whose livelihoods have been stalled due to cancelled events, are among the hardest hit by COVID-19. At this time of social distancing, we can come together in another way, by making a donation to the TOArtist COVID Response Fund.”

After Toronto emerges from the crisis we will all be depending on our artists to help bring our City back to its beautiful, vibrant, creative self.

Please join us. Show our artists some love, now, when they need it.

Please make a donation today at


Contact Information

For more information or to schedule an interview with Claire Hopkinson:
Sean Mallen,, cell: 416-602-9772

About Toronto Arts Foundation

Toronto Arts Foundation is a charitable organization that sparks creative connections, spotlights artistic excellence, and supports vibrant cultural growth throughout our diverse city, through private sector investment. To learn more or to make a donation, visit