The government of Ontario is trying a new tactic to combat sexual violence and harassment: handing over the reins to artists.
Ontario has launched a $2.25-million fund to link Ontario artists with advocates in the hopes of preventing sexual violence. Tracy MacCharles, the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, and Michael Coteau, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, made the announcement Thursday morning.
The Creative Engagement Fund will aid artists in provoking conversations about sexual violence and harassment as part of It's Never Okay – Ontario's Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.
Artists will team with sexual violence and harassment prevention organizations to produce works that reflect the experiences of survivors.
"The minister strongly encourages artists, arts organizations and sexual violence experts to collaborate on art projects that explore important – and sometimes uncomfortable – issues," said press secretary Matt Iannucci on behalf of the Ontario Women's Directorate in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.
"Art has a unique power to open the public's eyes to societal problems, and helps them imagine a better future. Funded projects will stimulate conversation, shape people's perspectives and opinions, and give them new tools to name and take action on sexual violence and harassment in their communities," he said.
The projects are being funded by the Ontario Arts Council, which will be taking applications from artists of various disciplines, including performance, writing, music, photography, graffiti and traditional aboriginal arts.
According to the Ontario Arts Council website, projects must involve professional artists, be based in Ontario, incorporate a gender-based analysis, be proficient in current sexual violence and harassment prevention methods and include effective strategies for public engagement.
Depending on the nature and scope of the project, organizations can request as much as $75,000 per year for up to three years. Ad hoc arts groups can request $30,000 per year for up to three years, Iannucci added.
Successful applicants will be announced in March, 2016.