On October 31, 2017, Toronto was designated as a Creative City of Media Arts by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 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. 

"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."

- Mayor John Tory.

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.

The designation is the result of a collaboration between the City and faculty from the University of Toronto and it is one of the ways that the City and the university will support existing and future relationships in order to achieve common goals, as outlined in a recent memorandum of understanding signed by the City and university.

Toronto's film, television and digital media industry is a key economic driver with 2016 production levels of over $2 billion. With assets such as a competitive tax credit regime, highly skilled talent and anchor studios, Toronto is a global leader. The city boasts more than 80 film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival and ImagineNative, the world's largest Indigenous media arts festival, working closely with Indigenous communities in Canada, the United States and Australia.

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 and in Toronto's annual Nuit Blanche, all-night contemporary art extravaganza.

Toronto helped nurture the Creative Cities Network in Canada in 2002 and has been an active participant in the World Cities Cultural Forum since 2015. Toronto now seeks to expand its international connections as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.

As a Creative City of Media Arts, Toronto envisages:

  • partnering with the Toronto Music Advisory Committee to promote music in media arts and develop opportunities for artists and audiences;
  • pursuing the development of a physical hub for Toronto's film festivals to share information, volunteer networks and coordinate festival schedules where possible;
  • increasing awareness by partnering with University of Toronto to support and promote events and other programming; and
  • planning and producing a one-day conference for the media arts community to support sector development.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO

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.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

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.