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Neighbours of Mississauga Road: Mississauga Arts Council – The Art of Connection

Published on in the June 2024 print edition of Neighbours of Mississauga Road. Article by Brittany O’Reilly.

In 1981, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion recognized a need in the community. Guided by the overarching goal of shaping the future of the arts in Mississauga, Mayor McCallion called for creating a collective body to coordinate and promote arts groups within the city. From this vision, the Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) was formed. For the past 43 years, the organization has been actively creating opportunities for local artists to thrive and reach out to the broader population of Mississauga. 

MAC is a registered charity dedicated to enabling the growth of the arts, creating opportunities for local artists, and connecting artists with Mississauga residents.  By providing service-based programming to artists, MAC seeks to promote awareness of the arts throughout the city to help build a thriving community culture.

“We have created a sense of belonging for professional artists in Mississauga no matter where they come from and what art they practice,” emphasized Mike Douglas, Executive Director. “They are part of something that matters, a nourishing, supportive community that is shepherded by MAC.”

MAC’s overall mission seeks to, “Create, Connect, and Celebrate.” ‘Create’ focuses on growing new opportunities for artists to use their talents, including offering opportunities for funding. The MAC’s MicroGrant program provides funding for new artist-led projects, focusing on areas of interest or need in the local arts sector.

“This grant was the catalyst for me to become a full-time musician and vocal educator,” said local recipient Heather Christine. “I am so grateful for the Mississauga Arts Council for helping me to achieve this lifelong dream.”

The MAC also facilitates a neighbourhood beautification project called Murals with MAC that pays for artists to aesthetically enhance the community through art installations such as murals and banners. Rounding out the mission to ‘Create’ is the TD Culture Lab, a series of webinars and workshops focused on professional development in the creative sector.

“MAC has been such an amazing institution for the arts in Mississauga,” said Daya White, local Visual Artist. “I’m floored every day by their awesome public art initiatives bringing little pockets of beauty into every corner of the city.”

The second pillar of MAC’s mission, to ‘Connect’ the community, centres around innovative communications, media, and marketing. This is all provided for members through the platform The Sauga Arts Hub is a one-stop shop for everything happening in the Mississauga art scene. With a packed events calendar, artist directory, and pages dedicated to each facet of the arts in our community, this resource seeks to dynamically connect artists with their neighbours.

“Facing the COVID shutdown of the arts forced us to embrace digital skills training and programming to keep artists occupied and give them hope, at the same time helping them to market themselves in new online pathways,” Executive Director Douglas explained. “We always knew that artists didn’t want handouts; they wanted opportunities to work and learn by doing.”

Finally, MAC also seeks to ‘Celebrate’ the accomplishments of local artists. The annual Mississauga Arts Awards (MARTYS) is a chance to honour and celebrate outstanding artistic achievements in the community. This year the event will be held on June 26 at the Mississauga Convention Centre, and it promises to be an evening sparking with creative excellence and exciting emerging artists.

For those interested in getting more involved with the organization, MAC is actively seeking Charitable Gaming Volunteers for the Rama Gaming House. Volunteers work two-hour shifts in straightforward, customer-facing duties, and must be at least 18 years of age and complete an online training session. 

“Our volunteers at Rama Gaming provided a share of the proceeds that we gave to local artists as MicroGrants which has become a foundational strength in the arts eco-system and inspiration for others to support arts projects with seed funding,” Executive Director Douglas highlighted.

There are many other programs and ways for the community to get involved with MAC, including the MACsquerade Ball held every November. This themed gala features performances alongside live and silent auctions. MAC is also participating in the 50 for 50 projects designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mississauga with neighbourhood utility box artistic beautification. Also celebrating the 50th anniversary milestone is the Sauga Neighbourhood Arts Program (SNAP!), a new co-funding initiative of that provides financial support to community-led arts programs.

With so many ways to get involved and connect with artists and the community-at-large, MAC stands as a pillar of Mississauga that has strengthened the community in its four decades of service. As Executive Director Douglas summed up about this vibrant organization, “Helping professional artists to sustain their work in Mississauga motivates MAC’s efforts every day.”