As an artist or someone starting an art related business in Ontario, you may be looking for information on programs and services that are available to help you. Whether you are a dancer, a fine artist, a publisher or a game developer, there are several resources that may be of interest to you.
An arts business may be defined in many ways, including:
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:
Depending on your needs and your type of arts business, you may be eligible for support such as awards, training, and funding. The following organizations provide a variety of services for arts businesses.
Find a variety of resources to promote and market your cultural or heritage attractions. You may also be eligible for funding and awards to help finance your business.
Contact the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport:
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
You may be eligible for funding programs and grants for Ontario-based artists. The Ontario Arts Council may also help you learn how to apply for awards, prizes or scholarships.
Contact the Ontario Arts Council:
Ontario Arts Council - Granting Programs and Awards
Access a variety of resources for the arts. You may be eligible for grants or funding to cover creative production, professional development, residency costs or travel expenses.
Contact Canada Council for the Arts:
Canada Council for the Arts
Your book publishing, film, television, interactive digital media, magazine publishing, or music business may be eligible for tax incentives and funding through the OMDC.
Ontario Media Development Corporation
Take advantage of career development resources and internship programs for all arts disciplines through CHRC. Financial support may be available if you plan to hire an apprentice or intern.
Cultural Human Resources Council
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.
You can also access Canada Business information through the ONe-Source online financing wizard. The wizard guides you through 3 easy steps to create a personalized list of results for Ontario business financing programs.
Contact the Business Info Line:
Learn about the grants and subsidies available to businesses involved in arts and media.
Grants, Subsidies and Contributions - Arts and Media
You can find Ontario-specific assistance for your business including advice, financing options, tax incentive programs and more using the Ontario government’s free online directory of support programs for business.
The OBPG provides:
Ontario Business Program Guide
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 BizPaL—an online search tool—to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact the Business Info Line to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and Licences Wizard
Contact the Business Info Line:
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 from the Canadian Intellectual Property office (CIPO).
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Additional information on intellectual property can be found in the following Canada Business guide.
What is intellectual property?
Certain industries will require specific training or certification, including:
To learn more about trade certification, contact the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
I Want to Work in the Trades – Employment Ontario
Other common regulations that can apply to an arts business include:
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.
Consumer Product Safety
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:
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:
Guide to the Precious Metals Marking Act and Regulations
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).
Dealers in Precious Metals and Stones
You will need a Certificate of Approval from the Ministry of Environment if your business:
If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer, based on your needs.
Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer 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 $7.00 per appointment.
Contact Artists' Legal Advice Services:
Artists’ Legal Advice Services
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
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.
Canada Revenue Agency – Business
There are many organizations that offer business development services, opportunities for networking, and/or resources for learning best practices. In addition to the organizations already mentioned in this guide, the following resources may be of interest to you.
Attend workshops and seminars at discounted rates, and access awards and scholarships as a member of this not-for-profit organization.
Contact the Ontario Crafts Council:
Ontario Crafts Council
Find business skills training and resources for the cultural workforce. Services are offered throughout Ontario.
Cultural Careers Council Ontario
If you are interested in protecting your intellectual property, you may receive free copyright services and intellectual property representation.
Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective Inc
As a member of the FCA, you can access educational resources and promotional opportunities.
Federation of Canadian Artists
For other information that relates to starting your business, you can read the following guides:
Additional resources that may be of interest to you include:
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 through the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888.
Information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific situation. Users concerned about the reliability of the information should consult directly with the source, or seek legal counsel.
Some of the organizations listed above are not subject to the federal Official Languages Act or the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Their services may not be available in both official languages.