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Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue Four: Arts, culture, and recreation

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Four is Arts and Recreation:

In a recent survey, 83% of respondents had used a City of Toronto facility in the last 12 months, and 90% had used a facility run by non-profits, a business, or a school. While Toronto is a leader in arts, culture, and recreation opportunities compared to the rest of the country, it does lag behind other major cities on a number of key indicators.

  • While funding for arts and recreation has increased recently, per capita funding still lags behind cities such as Vancouver and Montreal.
  • Toronto’s arts programming and recreational facilities are not serving everyone equally, with far higher participation rates among high-income groups and those in the downtown versus those in Etobicoke and Scarborough.
  • Arts and recreation programming for children is particularly inequitable, a concerning finding given the essential role these programs can have in helping develop critical cognitive and social skills.
  • Toronto’s recreation wait list is growing rapidly, while infrastructure is aging and increasingly in disrepair.
  • Toronto has almost twice as many workers in arts, culture, and recreation than Canada overall, though it lags behind Vancouver and Montreal.
  • Workers in the arts, culture, and recreation sectors make about half of the income of the typical occupation in Toronto and the least of any major city in Canada, resulting in high poverty rates, unaffordable housing, and extremely high rates of precarious work.

A CSI member doing crucial work in this area is Square Circle. Square Circle teaches Social Circus and other creative arts with the goal of empowering youth to become directors of their own lives. Using the tradition of Social Circus, they focus on youth ages 9-14 in underserved neighborhoods. Their programs develop communication, interpersonal, artistic, and physical skills in a safe, collaborative and fun environment. Their free programs and events teach circus disciplines: juggling, poi, team building games, hula-hoop, aerial techniques clowning, pyramids, circles and a mixed variety of creative arts activities: dance, acting/improvisation, and photography.

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