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Toronto city profile | city data
  • Toronto is Canada’s leading production centre for film and television, the third largest in North America
  • More than 50% of the city’s population is foreign-born
  • The City’s cultural policies aim to combat economic and cultural disparities across Toronto, and to provide opportunities and access to City funded programmes. The City is focused on three key areas: equity and inclusion; affordable space and access to space; and talent and innovation.

City data: Key facts

  • Geographical area: 630 sq. km
  • Total population: 2,929,886
  • GDP (PPP) million: US$ 156,108

The land on which Toronto sits has been home to Indigenous peoples for 11,000 years. Its name is derived from ‘TKaronto’, a Mohawk word meaning ‘trees in standing water’. Toronto is on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

In the 20th century, Toronto established itself as English Canada’s centre of commerce, industry, media and culture. Until the mid-1960s, Toronto’s culture was dominated by colonial and European influences and the cultural institutions established in this period were a reflection of this, including the city’s symphony, opera, ballet companies and museums. Post-World War Two brought extraordinary economic growth and a wave of nationalism leading up to and following Canada’s Centennial in 1967 and new cultural organisations, infrastructure, theatres, festivals, and science museums focused on telling contemporary Canadian stories.

Toronto is known worldwide as a centre of film, television and digital media, which contributed a record-breaking CAD $2.5 billion to the city’s economy in 2021. Its festivals, such as the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Pride Toronto, and the Toronto International Film Festival, are among the most celebrated in the world. The city is also home to the largest number of artists in Canada, representing approximately one in six artists nationwide.

Modern Toronto is a diverse city with half the population foreign born. Toronto is developing rapidly, and neighbourhoods are in a constant state of change and renewal. The creative and cultural sectors have enhanced the city’s international profile, but have also been squeezed by development pressures and rising prices especially, but not exclusively, in the downtown area. Additionally, the median income among creatives is less than half of the average for the city as a whole. These pressures were thrown into sharp relief by the Covid-19 pandemic, when the sector was among the hardest hit by lockdown restrictions. During the pandemic itself, the City moved fast with grants and policies to support creatives and the sector. However, it also recognised that this alone was not enough. The sector itself needs greater support to become more equitable and affordable, and to develop a more diverse workforce representative of all the city’s communities. Consequently, in its longer term planning, the City is working to make arts grants more equitable, transparent and accountable, working to make more arts spaces available and creating support for both digital development and a more diverse sector leadership.

This commitment to giving a voice to all citizens in a diverse city has also manifested in the public realm. In response to activism and a citizen petition in 2020, the City is renaming a major thoroughfare, currently known as Dundas Street, because it memorialises a British politician who was involved in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 1790s. This is likely to be just the beginning of a reassessment of statues and naming issues. Change will not only be about what is removed, but which communities – from racialized communities, to Indigenous groups and women – need to be better represented in the public realm. These priorities are also shaping the Toronto’s Public Art Strategy for the decade to 2030. Already a leader in public art, Toronto now wants to open up public art commissioning so that it is more responsive to Indigenous people and racialized communities, rebalancing representation beyond Toronto’s early European influences. This ambition shaped ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art in 2021-22, the public face and test bed for the broader strategy.

As the City navigates the post-pandemic period, it’s cultural policy priorities are on equity and inclusion, affordable space, and talent and innovation. These will allow culture to thrive, yielding important returns in economic vitality, liveability and social inclusion.