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What is Guelph Arts Council?

By: Guelph Arts Council
1. physically distanced summer staff
Physically distanced summer staff meeting (2020). From left to right Communications & Events Assistant (contract staff) Ahmri Vandeborne,Co-Managers of Programs

If you haven’t heard of Guelph Arts Council, or you have, but you’re not really sure what it is or does, here’s a primer.

First, there’s no “council” like a city council or student council. There are three hard-working staff: one full-time executive director, and two part-time managers of programs and operations. Sometimes there is also a co-op student and/or intern. There are also lots of volunteers doing everything from helping with Art on the Street to leading historical walking tours.

Because GAC is a charity, there is also a volunteer board of directors. Board members also serve on hands-on committees including fundraising, communications, and governance. Non-board members also volunteer on these committees -- a great way to get involved with GAC. (Hint, hint.)


Potters wheel collaboration

What we do

GAC’s role is to champion and grow opportunities for Guelph’s creative community through communications, resources for learning, and cultural programs and partnerships.

It has quite a record of doing that in its 45-year history, including assisting with the development of new organizations such as Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph Chamber Choir, Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph Youth Orchestra, Royal City Musical Productions, River Run Centre, and many more.

GAC also hosts the popular annual art show and sale Art on the Street with the Downtown Guelph Business Association. And GAC has hosted Doors Open Guelph in partnership with the City of Guelph since 2002.

Some people might think GAC is a funding organization like Canada Council for the Arts or Ontario Arts Council. It would be wonderful to have buckets of money to give away, but GAC runs on a tight budget, depending on grants for many of its programs and strategic projects. GAC does give out some financial awards, such as the annual Jane Graham Memorial Award and the Youth Opportunities Award. The Sue Richards Artist Relief Fund is available to help local artists living with debilitating health issues.

In 2021 GAC is excited to be rebuilding its online presence to become the Digital Cultural Hub for Guelph-Wellington, with funding from Canada Council for the Arts and WIL Digital and expertise from Guelph’s Barking Dog Studios. The new will launch in spring 2021. GAC welcomes input and involvement from other organizations that may want to be a part of the Digital Cultural Hub.

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Pictured here: physically distanced summer staff meeting (2020). From left to right Communications & Events Assistant (contract staff) Ahmri Vandeborne,Co-Managers of Programs & Operations Fan-Ling Suen and Preetam Sengupta, and Executive Director Patti Broughton.

How we do it

GAC gets its operating funds from multiple sources. Major funders include City of Guelph, The Guelph Community Foundation, Ontario Arts Council and the RBC Emerging Artists Project. Individual donors and corporate sponsors are also vital contributors. Other revenue comes from events, such as the annual Collector’s Dilemma fundraising auction, some programming, and from membership fees.

What do GAC members get?

Any individual artist or arts organization involved in music, theatre, dance, literary arts, visual arts or any other art form can become a member. GAC extends a special invitation to BIPOC, newcomer, Deaf, disabled, youth, and/or 2SLGBTQ+ artists to sign up. As a member you can:

  • Include your news, events, workshops, exhibitions and calls in the monthly e-news
  • Directly access the online events calendar to share your events
  • Create an Artist Member profile page on with links to your website and social media
  • Book consultations with GAC staff for help with your artistic or business goals
  • Receive free access or discounts on GAC workshops, webinars, and other programs
  • Be eligible to enter submissions to GAC-sponsored arts exhibitions and events

The new Digital Cultural Hub will also provide members with a platform to share digital content including live streaming, an online forum to connect with other artists, and enhanced opportunities to sell their work online.

While membership fees help GAC, we never want them to be a barrier to access. Please contact GAC staff at or 519-836-3280 if you face any kind of barrier to accessing membership services, or need support.

GAC does much more than we can tell you about here. To learn more sign up for the twice-monthly e-newsletters or visit

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