The York Region Arts Council serves to advance, promote, represent and connect the art community and tourism industry across the region so as to enrich local quality of life, and to build awareness of, support for, involvement in and appreciation of, arts and culture in York Region.
To deliver service excellence to the regional arts and culture community to nurture its creative, economic and social potential.
The York Region Arts Council is committed to fostering a vibrant regional arts and culture sector by supporting the arts in York Region in all its forms – literary, visual, performing, media and heritage – in a representative and inclusive manner. As the regional liaison and central information resource for arts, culture and tourism, we deliver value to our stakeholders and the regional arts community as a whole, through marketing, communication, education, representation, consultation and networking facilitation and coordination.
The York Region Arts Council (YRAC) began life as Arts Link in the early to mid-2000’s with the intention of connecting York Region public and Catholic schools with artists and implementing arts programming for youth. In 2008, Arts Link changed direction and became the York Region Arts Council. YRAC was founded in response to the plethora of underserved artists and arts organizations working in silos and lacking the resources and network to grow capacity.
2008 – The York Region Arts Council is born
A committee of arts professionals and advocates from across York Region consulted with the regional arts community and developed YRAC’s first strategic plan. The organization was formally incorporated in November of the same year.
2009 – Chairman’s Dinner for the Arts raises $250,000
The newly created strategic plan was implemented; resulting in a new Board of Directors and the appointment of the first Executive Director, Nancy Bodi, MBA. Near the end of 2009, YRAC hosted the Chairman’s Dinner for the Arts and raised $250,000.
2010 – The Organization Grows and Programs and Services Take Flight
As a result of funds raised at the Chairman’s Dinner for the Arts, YRAC developed a grant program that awarded local artists and non-profit arts organizations a total of $125,000. YRAC was also successful in retaining a $275,000 5 year operating grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation which enabled the organization to hire an Arts Administrator, Jennifer Curtis, and launch seminars and three websites: www.yorkregionartscouncil.com, www.yorkscene.com and www.artistmarketplace.ca.
2011 – Arts Exposed Conference
The first two-day arts and culture conference in York Region, Arts Exposed, was established and held in the spring of 2011. The conference focused on inspiring, and educating local artists, arts organizations and municipal staff on the impact creative communities have on the local economy and collective identity. Breakout sessions included topics such as branding, marketing, audience development and more. This event initiated a new partnership with Seneca College and the municipal arts councils, Markham Arts Council, Arts Society King, Georgina Arts Centre & Gallery and Arts Richmond Hill. Samantha Rodin was hired as the new Arts Administrator.
2012 – Arts and Cultural Tourism
YRAC enters into a new strategic partnership with the Regional Municipality of York and Metroland Media Group for further development of YorkScene.com. As a result, Divya Sabharwal was hired as the YorkScene.com Media and Marketing Coordinator. New funding from this partnership resulted in the successful application of a $25,000 CSIF matching grant from the Ministry of Ontario. YRAC also retained a $175,000 three year collaborative grant to continue producing the Arts Exposed Conference in partnership with the nine York Region municipalities and local arts councils. New programming titled Arts After Hours Networking Events was launched to bring together and encourage collaboration amongst local arts professionals.
2013 – Art Mentorship Project
YRAC solidified its partnership with the Regional Municipality of York by receiving annual funding and, by extension, became the regional DMO for local tourism on the Central Counties Board of Directors. YorkScene.com was then recognized as the ‘official tourism website for York Region’ and launched several consumer sweepstakes that featured prizes from local organizations and businesses. YRAC also entered into a new partnership with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to establish the Art Mentorship Project, addressing the underserved needs of emerging artists in York Region. Samantha Rodin was promoted to Associate Director.
2014 – Planning for the Future
A new partnership was established with Central Counties Tourism to enhance local tourism services and initiatives. A $30,000 OTF grant was received to conduct a feasibility study for the development of a unified York Region festival and event network and related caravan-type showcase. YRAC, in partnership with the municipal arts councils and York University Faculty of Fine Arts, also received a $10,000 grant from the Ontario Arts Council to develop Artrepreneur Educational Workshops.