The City of Toronto and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) are proud to announce that Toronto is the first Canadian city to be designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts for its leadership in film, music, digital media and forms of cultural expression using technology. Toronto joins the 116 existing member cities in UNESCO's Creative Cities Network (UCCN).

"Having helped to start the creative cities movement, I am proud to announce today Toronto's entry into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network," said Mayor John Tory. "This designation affirms that we are an international hub for innovation and inspiration. It affirms that Toronto's creative communities enhance our quality of life and economic vitality. We are pleased to be able to broaden our global connections through UNESCO's initiatives."

“Media Arts is such a powerful tool that can be used to create a sense of belonging as well as to help foster more inclusive cities," said Christina Cameron, President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. “We extend our congratulations to the City of Toronto for its leadership and are looking forward to working together in advancing creative solutions to today’s urban challenges.”

"It is ideal that Toronto is receiving this achievement on the United Nation's annual World Cities Day," said Councillor Michelle Holland (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest), the Mayor's Innovation Economy Advocate, who first moved a motion that Toronto seek the designation. "This year's theme of Innovative Governance, Open Cities reinforces the positive role that cities can have in utilizing urbanization as a source of global development and social inclusion."

Created in 2004, the UCCN is organized into seven fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music. Toronto is the 10th city to be designated a UNESCO Media Arts City. Other designated cities include Austin, Texas; Tel-Aviv, Israel; and Dakar, Senegal.

For more information about the UCCN, visit

Toronto's arts and culture sector employs nearly 174,000 people and annually contributes $11.3 billion to the city's economy. In 2016, investment in Toronto's domestic and foreign film, television and digital productions rose to an all-time record of $2.01 billion. Investment in the animation and visual effects industries has increased by 363 per cent since 2014.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO serves as a bridge between Canadians and the vital work of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. By promoting UNESCO values, priorities and programs in Canada and by bringing the voices of Canadian experts to the international stage, the commission contributes to a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

Toronto is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally as a vibrant creative capital. The city's cultural assets are a key economic driver, contribute to social cohesion and strong neighbourhoods, and enhance Toronto's reputation as one of the best places in the world to live, work, and travel.
Toronto's arts and culture scene is particularly well-known for its accomplishments in the field of media arts - encompassing film, music, digital media, and other forms of cultural expression using technology.

In recognition of the city's global achievements in the field, this bid seeks to designate Toronto as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.
This designation would create opportunities for international partnerships with the Network's member cities, encourage collaboration and innovation in the media arts sector, and celebrate the tremendous achievements of Toronto's artists and cultural organizations.
Such a designation also serves as a catalyst to connect emerging artists and technologies for the development of creative clusters, the creation of new jobs and as drivers of economic growth.

Benefits to receiving the designation include:

  • Stronger International Partnerships
  • Global Recognition of Toronto's Cultural Vibrancy
  • Collaboration and Growth in the Media Arts Sector
  • Marketing and Promotions

Media arts refers to a broad range of works of art and cultural expression that have been produced using technology, and can include film, music, animation, video art, interactive art installations, children's media, photography, design, and more. Media artists leverage technologies to explore new modes of content creation and audience engagement, and demonstrate the potential of digital technologies to drive innovation in the creative sector.

The City is a longstanding supporter of media arts in Toronto. Through the Toronto Arts Council, the City directly supports media artists and arts organizations with peer- reviewed grants, awarding operating and project funding to over 60 visual and media arts organizations and 45 individual media artists in 2016. In 2016, Toronto became the first city in Canada to appoint a Photo Laureate to serve as the City's ambassador for the visual and photographic arts. Media arts also features prominently in the City's public art program.

The designation of Toronto as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts is an opportunity to look to the future of cultural production and expression. It will encourage emerging leaders and youth working in media arts and new technologies to collaborate and innovate, and leverage the potential of media arts for economic growth.

Toronto Creative City Agenda

Over the 2000s, Toronto initiated and instituted a process of cultivating itself as a creative city. The bit to join UNESCO's Creative Cities Network reflects Toronto's global leadership in advancing the concept of creative cities.