The OAF Blog

What are the Policy Issues Facing Artists and Cultural Organizations in 2015

February 04, 2015

A Toronto based arts service organization The Arts Advocate provides commentary and up to date information about government policy, events and trends in the cultural sector of Ontario. At the end of December, they invited subscribers to their service to complete a short survey on the most important policy issues facing the cultural sector in 2015. We completed the survey in early January, and at that time responses showed:

Issue Responses (%)
Improved public investment through grants or tax credits       68.0%
Paying artists adequate fees        40.0%
Amending the Copyright Act to better protect creators and publishers            20.0%
Updated cultural content regulations         16.0%
Greater international presence and promotion for Cdn artists and products         12.0%
Policies and programs to strengthen audience engagement              8.0%

For more information on the survey results, visit the
Arts Advocate Blog.

Arts Endowment Fund Renewal
As the Ontario Arts Foundation actively is seeking renewal of the Arts Endowment Fund matching program, with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, we are heartened by the high degree of support for public investment in the arts. The responses are interesting and it will be interesting as the year progresses, to see which issues continue to have profile and one hopes, a policy/government response.



The Value of a Charitable Remainder Trust

January 09, 2015

In 1994, 61 people contributed $44,000 to a charitable remainder trust, administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation to create an income for Mary Jolliffe (1923-2014) one of Canada’s best known publicists.

Mary was a character, who like many artists, devoted her life to supporting the arts in North America. Her first role as a publicist was with the Stratford Festival at its beginning in 1953. From there, there were few significant public relations roles that Mary did not hold – O’Keefe Centre in Toronto, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, the Metropolitan Opera touring company in New York, Expo 67 in Montreal, the National Ballet of Canada, National Arts Centre, the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council. Her passion and commitment to promoting artists and arts organizations 

was lifelong and she left her mark at every organization. Mary was recognized for her efforts by being named to the Order of Canada in 1985.

Like many artists, Mary moved from role to role and devoted most of her resources during her working life to her lifestyle and the organizations she supported. When retirement became a reality, she found herself with limited sources of income. As a way to recognize her many accomplishments, the individuals contributing to the trust wanted to provide an income supplement to help cover Mary’s costs of living.  The OAF successfully managed the Mary Jolliffe Fund for 20 years. Quarterly annual income payments were made Mary totaling over $80,000.  At her death, the fund was valued $46,000.

Charitable Remainder Trusts
Charitable remainder trusts (“CRT’s) are a tax planned way to create a fund to provide an annual income for life to a named beneficiary. On the death of the beneficiary, the remaining capital is transferred to a registered charity. There are several advantages, to this form of trust, which is not often used by Canadians as part of long-term tax and estate planning.

      • A charitable remainder trust may be funded with cash, securities or real estate. The contributions are held by a trustee ( such as the OAF )
      • The named beneficiary is entitled to receive the income for life ( in effect a form of annuity ).
      • Gifts to the trust are irrevocable and the beneficiary has no right to any of the capital contributed
      • On the death of the life beneficiary, the remaining capital is transferred to a charitable organization named in the trust agreement.
      • As the gifts to the trust are irrevocable, the donor(s) receive a charitable donation tax receipt. The amount of the receipt is based on the present value of the remainder interest, which is determined by the value of the assets contributed, prevailing interest rates and the life expectancy of the income beneficiary.

Some individuals create a trust as a means of ensuring a future gift to a charity important to them, while continuing to receive income from the property which is removed from their estate. The value is not subject to probate fees at the time of the death of the income beneficiary. The trust is responsibly managed by the Trustee, who will provide the annual income.

Mary Jolliffe Award for Arts Administrators
The capital remaining in the Mary Jolliffe Fund will now be used to fund an award, recognizing the contribution of senior arts administrators in Canada to the arts. In this way, the legacy of the lifelong commitment of Mary Jolliffe to the arts will be continued by honouring people like her, who are similarly accomplished.  For arts philanthropists, a CRT offers another way to support the work and life accomplishments of an artist in a way that helps the individual, is tax effective to the donor and provides a future gift to a charitable organization.



Adapting to the Digital Age - Museums

December 03, 2014

There is a constant flow of information and articles about arts, culture in response to the digital environment we increasingly live in. The New York Times recently published a special section on the Visual Arts, which included an article titled Museums Morph Digitally. The article speaks to decisions now widely being made by museums to allow visitors to use their digital devices, and indeed to encourage their use.  It is part of a transformation of how museums present permanent collections and exhibits, a recognition that people live both in a physical, and a digital world – they embrace a physical experience of seeing a work of art, and share/retain that experience digitally.

Digitizing Collections

As well, we see museums and art galleries making efforts to make their collections more accessible through a process of digitizing all works. Remember that only a very small portion of a museum collection is ever on display at any given time. One of our client funds provides grants to support efforts to make collections more accessible to the local community and to visitors.

Digital technology, the article says, is being used to provide supplemental information about an artwork, and can be delivered directly to a smartphone. Technology is also used for conservation and research. For example, 3D scanning allows online viewers of a physical work to be seen from angles not possible in an image, and sometimes at the institution itself- think of a very large object ( a dinosaur at the ROM, or very large sculpture at an art gallery ). The purpose of technology is to give the viewer more access points into an artwork, as if someone is personally guiding the viewer through the painting or sculpture.

The Opening Up of a Range of Viewing Choices

The old view that putting images online would harm museum attendance has shifted to the opposite – “…when people can see artworks online, it is a taste and they want to see more, often in person..” It is not a shift to a ‘technology’ rules environment… rather creating a range of viewing choices for the visitor…letting the content determine what we do and how we use technology or devices in ‘low tech’ or ‘high tech’ way.

The New York Times article is a good read, and indicative of forward thinking.



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