Craft Ontario is a registered charitable organization under the legal name Ontario Crafts Council (118878511RR0001), founded in 1976 as a merger between the Canadian Guild of Crafts (1931) and the Ontario Craft Foundation (1966). Based in Toronto since its inception, Craft Ontario currently offers programs and services to 1200 members across Ontario, 1000 of which are active professional craftspeople.
As a multi-disciplinary craft organization devoted to the support, advocacy and promotion of Ontario craft and craft makers, Craft Ontario operates as a culturally generative institution in four parts: (1) as an arts-oriented service provider, (2) a visual presentation space, (3) a publisher, and (4) a retailer.
Our services and programs provide support for craft makers at all levels of their careers from emerging to established, while raising awareness of, providing access to, and growing appreciation for their work. Craft Ontario’s primary areas of focus include: member services and professional development programming, including workshops, conferences and the annual awards program; exhibitions that contextualize and present contemporary craft practice to the public; the Craft Ontario Shop, a retail presentation space that provides opportunities for members to sell their work; and the nationally-distributed Studio magazine, which fosters critical dialogue in the Canadian craft and design community. Craft Ontario also actively contributes to craft on both a national and international level through partnering with other craft-related organizations in order to develop touring exhibitions and conference programming.
Craft Ontario's most significant contribution to the cultural community is the support of individual craftspeople by providing tools to develop their careers and make an income from their work, promoting their work through exhibitions, retail, online and print publications, and through advocating for the importance of craft practice as an integral part of contemporary culture.
Craft Ontario’s programming is crucial for the development of professional craft practice in Ontario. The Craft Ontario Gallery and Shop provide opportunities for makers to explore ideas and push boundaries, which in turn educate the public about the stories and skills of our diverse membership. Studio Magazine is a leading source for news and editorial content about craft practice, and helps to define the field as the premiere craft publication in the country. Craft Ontario is also becoming known for its special projects, which are undertaken through partnerships with craft-related organizations, galleries and educational institutions in order to create a stronger community, and to reach a broad audience. In effect, Craft Ontario's impact over the last 40 years has resulted in fostering the careers of today's established and mid-career makers, and the organization continues to do the same today with a new generation of emerging makers. Craft Ontario's programs and services result in connected, educated craft professionals that develop stable and influential careers. At the same time, Craft Ontario's programs and services have created a community of patrons, collectors and educators, which continues to grow through an engaged public that actively seeks to understand the value in supporting craft.
Overall, Craft Ontario works to provide opportunities for craftspeople that range from addressing business needs to providing promotional space in the arts and culture community. These services are crucial to craftspeople across the province, and Craft Ontario is committed to maintaining and developing this unique role.