Arts and artists guide

Table of contents

Programs and services for artists
Other resources


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.

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

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

Contact the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries:
Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

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:
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:
Canada Council for the Arts - Grants

Ontario Creates

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, Ontario Creates has funding programs that may help you grow your business. Your arts business may also qualify for tax credits or other incentives.

Contact Ontario Creates:
Ontario Creates

Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC)

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

Contact CHRC:
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



Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Business Benefits Finder

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



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 to find licences and regulations that may affect your business.

Use online:
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:
Canadian Intellectual Property Office


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 Skilled Trades Ontario.

Contact Skilled Trades Ontario:
Skilled Trades 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:
For Industry: Canada Consumer Product Safety Act 
Health Canada - Industry Guide to Second-hand Products


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:

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:
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:
Dealers in precious metals and stones

Ontario environmental permissions

You will need approval from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks 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 permissions

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:
Resources and guidelines

Legal questions

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law, immigration or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:

Read online:
Pro Bono Ontario - Free Legal Advice Hotline


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service

If you are an Ontario-based artist, such as an actor, musician, visual artist, dancer, writer or filmmaker, you may be able to receive free legal advice in Toronto from Artists' Legal Advice Services. They typically assist with issues relating to contracts, defamation, copyright, trademarks and royalties or other payments. The service is free, but you are encouraged to make a contribution of $20.00 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.

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:
Canada Revenue Agency

Other resources

Industry-specific information