In 1999 a group of enthusiastic arts supporters met to discuss the formation of an arts council. With some seed money from the City of Orillia and support from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, public consultations were held to flesh out the concept of an umbrella organization to support the arts in Orillia. Within a year the Orillia & District Arts Council (ODAC) was formed.

From the outset the Arts Council’s mission was to enhance and promote the arts. During its first few years, ODAC hosted several public forums for its members and surrounding arts councils on topics ranging from Board governance to funding opportunities.

One of the Arts Council’s primary goals was the creation of a downtown storefront office to support arts organizations and individual members. The office was also seen as an easily accessible point of contact and promotional venue for the public. In partnership with the Mariposa Folk Foundation, successful funding applications to Human Resources Development Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation resulted in the opening of “Spotlight…on the Arts” at 23 Peter Street South, Orillia. The office provided clerical support as well as meeting, gallery and storage space for a growing number of members. Staff also created a website with an events calendar and regular electronic newsletters.

The Arts Council achieved incorporation as a not-for-profit organization on April 12th, 2005 and was granted charitable status the following year. In 2006 the ODAC Board of Directors embarked upon a comprehensive strategic planning process including an extensive community consultation. The plan, which was shared at its first Annual General Meeting in October 2006, shapes the Art Council’s short- and long-term goals.

In 2008, the Arts Council moved to 37 Mississaga St W., Orillia, under a rental agreement in the new Mariposa Folk Foundation office. The location afforded improved gallery and workshop space. In response to the identified needs of members and the public, staffing was changed from a part-time executive director position to a full-time administrator.

In 2011, the 3-year operational grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation came to an end, and the Arts Council could no longer afford to pay for a staff position. In March 2012, the Mariposa Folk Foundation moved to a new location on Peter Street, and ODAC accepted an offer of temporary office space in the Orillia City Centre building on Andrew Street. Further to this, the Arts Council undertook an additional organizational development project thanks to a 6-month project grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The goal was to consult with local arts and culture organizations, artists, municipalities, businesses and other arts council in the county to identify how the Arts Council could best meet the evolving needs of the community while navigating an increasingly resource-thin economic environment.

Over the following few years ODAC suffered significant setbacks as a result of site relocation and loss of staff. It was through the work of a dedicated few that the agency was able to re-organize and re-vitalize. It was through the support of a great many of you that there was motivation to do so, and we thank you for your encouragement and patience.

We hope you will find our site informative and inspiring, and we encourage you to take full advantage of our offerings by renewing or joining Orillia & District Arts Council.

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