Graphic by Masih K
When it comes to pandemic job loss, Canada’s arts industry was the hardest hit. Gallery closures, theatre shutdowns and limited work opportunities marked a turning point for the art scene. About 114, 400 artists lost their jobs in 2020. That’s a quarter of all the employees in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector.
The damage done by widespread unemployment still lingers almost two years later. A survey by ArtSCAPE reported that artists worry about having the money to pay rent and put food on the table. With an average monthly income of $2,000, artists need financial support to continue working in Toronto. Arts organizations work overtime to make sure that the arts community can keep enriching the lives of Toronto residents without taking such an excessive financial and emotional strain.
In this episode of On the Record, we speak to artists, arts workers and a mental health counsellor about the changing landscape of art in Toronto.
4:04 Emerging artists struggle to start careers mid-pandemic
9:00 How Artscape is helping artists find resources
11:23 Basic guaranteed income for artists
13:03 Mental health effects of the pandemic on artists
17:43 Building momentum with artist advocacy
Who we heard from in order of appearance
Amrita Chopra, artist who created The Waiting List installation
Deloris Chen, painter and illustrator
Hibah Mian, independent curator and founder of The Open Gallery
Claire Hopkinson, director and CEO of Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation
Thea Fitz-James, program manager of ArtsUNITE
Charmaine Johnson, career and mental health counsellor
The Open Gallery