Arts and artists guide

Table of contents

Introduction
Programs and services for artists
Financing
Regulations
Taxation
Other resources

Introduction

If you are an artist or are starting an arts-related business in Ontario, you may be looking for information on programs and services that can help you achieve your goals. Whether you are a dancer or visual artist, a publisher or game developer, there are resources that may be useful to you.

An arts business may be defined in many ways, including:

  • Illustration, painting and drawing
  • Printmaking and imaging
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
  • Dance
  • Theatre and film
  • Games design

This guide provides information about support for artists and arts businesses. For information on the steps involved in starting a business, the following guides may be helpful:

Programs and services for artists

Depending on your needs and your type of arts business, you may be eligible for awards, training, funding or other forms of support. The following organizations provide a variety of services for arts businesses.

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

You may be able to access a variety of resources to promote and market your arts or arts-related business through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. You may also be eligible for funding and awards to help finance your business.

Contact the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport:
1-855-216-3090
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Also see:
Resources for artists

Ontario Arts Council

As an Ontario-based artist, you may be eligible for grants and awards programs through the Ontario Arts Council.

Contact the Ontario Arts Council:
1-800-387-0058
Ontario Arts Council - Grants

Canada Council for the Arts

You may be able to access a variety of resources for individual artists, as well as for arts organizations. Visit the Canada Council for the Arts website to find out if you are eligible for grants or funding to cover creative production, professional development, residency costs or travel expenses.

Contact Canada Council for the Arts:
1-800-263-5588
Canada Council for the Arts - Grants

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)

If you are one of Ontario’s cultural entrepreneurs from the book and magazine publishing, film and television production, sound recording or interactive digital media content production industries, OMDC has funding programs that may help you grow your business. Your arts business may also qualify for tax credits or other incentives.

Contact OMDC:
1-800-560-0695
Ontario Media Development Corporation - Funding

Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC)

Take advantage of career development resources and internship programs for all arts disciplines through CHRC. There are also resources for arts businesses and entrepreneurs, including information about financial supports if you plan to hire an apprentice or intern.

Contact CHRC:
1-866-562-1535
Cultural Human Resources Council

Ontario Municipalities

You can also contact your local municipal office for information on arts financing and support that may be available. You can find links to your municipality’s website at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Read online:
Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Financing

Canada Business can help you find government financing options for your business. There are programs that apply to businesses across Canada, and others that apply only to businesses in Ontario. Use the Canada Business financing search tool or browse by type of financing.

Search online:
Canada Business: Government grants and financing

Grants, subsidies and contributions - Arts and media

Learn about the grants and subsidies available to businesses involved in arts and media.

Read online:
Grants, subsidies and contributions - Arts and media

Regulations

Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use the Canada Business Permits and Licenses Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.

Contact us:
1-888-576-4444
Permits and licences search

Intellectual property

Understanding intellectual property rights is essential for any arts-based business. Artists and arts-based businesses may want copyright protection for artistic, dramatic, musical or literary works. Copyright can also provide protection for computer programs and performance or sound recordings. You can learn more about copyright and other forms of intellectual property rights from the Canadian Intellectual Property office (CIPO).

Contact CIPO:
1-866-997-1936
Canadian Intellectual Property Office

Additional information on intellectual property can be found in the following Canada Business guide.

Read online:
What is intellectual property?

Certification

You may need certification to work with certain types of materials or in certain artistic trades. You can often become certified in your trade, even if certification is not mandatory. A complete listing of regulated trades and more information about mandatory and voluntary trade certification is available from the Ontario College of Trades (OCT).

Contact OCT:
1-855-299-0028
Trades in Ontario

Other common regulations that can apply to an arts business include:

Consumer product safety

If you manufacture, import, distribute or sell products in Canada, you are responsible for ensuring that they are safe. Health Canada provides information on the regulations for clothing, accessories, hazardous materials, household products and children’s products.

Read online:
Consumer product safety

Labelling

If you sell packaged goods that have been imported or produced domestically, you need to be aware of any labelling requirements that will apply to your products before selling them in Canada. The Competition Bureau provides information on the labelling requirements for non-food products.

Contact the Competition Bureau:
1-800-348-5358
Labelling corner

Precious metals marking

Before you sell precious metals like gold, silver and platinum, you must ensure that they are stamped properly to reflect their quality. You can get more information on properly marking precious metals from the Competition Bureau.

Contact the Competition Bureau:
1-800-348-5358
Guide to the Precious Metals Marking Act and Regulations

Dealers in precious metals and stones

If you buy or sell precious metals, stones or jewellery, you are legally required to report and record transactions of $10,000 or more. You can get more information on the reporting requirements from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

Contact FINTRAC:
1-866-346-8722
Dealers in precious metals and stones

Ontario environmental approvals

You will need approval from the Ministry of Environment if your business:

  • Releases contaminants (pollutants) into the air, onto land or into water
  • Provides drinkable water supplies
  • Stores, transports or disposes waste
  • Installs certain types of renewable solar, wind or bio-energy equipment

Read online:
Environmental approvals

Travel and accommodation services

If you arrange transportation or sleeping accommodation for your clients, you may need to register with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). Examples of activities that can include regulated travel and accommodation services:

  • Tours
  • Retreats
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Fieldtrips

To find out more about activities that require registration, contact TICO or visit their website.

Contact TICO:
1-888-451-8426
Industry Guidelines

Legal questions

If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Law Society Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service

You may receive legal advice in Toronto free-of-charge if you qualify for Legal Aid. The advice is offered in person, by appointment, and the consultations last up to 30 minutes. The service is free, but you are encouraged to make a contribution of $20.00 per appointment.

Contact Artists' Legal Advice Services:
416-367-2527
Artists' Legal Advice Services

Taxation

Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
1-800-959-5525
Canada Revenue Agency

Other resources

Managing

From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.

Associations

If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.

Industry-specific information

You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.