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by Katie Wilde

Last year saw the inaugural Oak Tree Project, a collaborative fundraising effort in support of local charities, initiated by the MacTaggart Team. This year, they are focusing on the arts in our community.

Photo credit: The Oak Tree Project

In their words, this is why:

“Creative expression is something we’re passionate about. Not only have studies shown that arts programming can have a positive impact on the development of local communities and social networks, but also strengthening these roots will benefit future generations. Participating in art activities helps us to gain the tools necessary for understanding human experience, adapting to and respecting others’ ways of thinking and working, developing creative problem-solving skills and communicating thoughts and ideas in many different ways.

The arts also have the power to transform lives, provide a proven positive impact on development, help to refine motor skills and improve coordination, unlock talent, raise aspirations and establish an appreciation for different cultures.

This year, The Mactaggart Team will focus on strengthening local charities with the best ideas to build community through the arts. We’re looking for local charities that have the best ideas to enhance their capacity for supporting creative programming through the arts. We will donate $5,000 to an arts charity nominated by members of our community. A second donation of $1,000 will also be made.”

Inspired by Business for the Arts, we’re thrilled to see such a show of support from our business community with this year’s theme.


business for the arts oak tree graphic

Sources: Creative City Network of Canada; Social Impact of the Arts Project, University of Pennsylvania; team analysis.

Community Members:

The success of this initiative relies on the entire community to play a role. Registered charities will be setting up profiles online and talking up the program to their stakeholders. Community members will have a chance to nominate the arts-related project close to their hearts and encourage their friends, families and peers to do the same. Community members, show your support for a program that’s close to your heart by sharing nomination stories between June 15 and July 15.

From the Oak Tree Project:

“It’s easy to nominate your favourite charity – or charities! Simply tell us your name, how to reach you, and provide a brief summary of why the charity deserves the donation. Put some thought into it – your words could be the deciding factor.

Charities will first be short-listed based on the number of nominations they receive. Spread the word! Nominate any arts charity once, and then talk it up: encourage people to visit the Oak Tree Project website often, follow @oaktreeguelph on Twitter, and tell others to nominate. You’ll increase the organization’s chances of being selected.

When the nomination period closes, a recipient will be selected based on a combination of the number of nominations received and the judging panel’s review of the stories submitted. More details on the selection process can be found here.”


The Oak Tree Project is looking to you to tell them who you are, what arts-focused projects you’re working on, and how they can help. The registration period for charities will close on Monday, June 8, 2015 (not June 5, as previously stated), so be sure to set up your profile by then.

Who is eligible? All organizations with arts programming. If you’re not an arts organization or not a registered charity, don’t stop reading; any charity with arts programming or an arts-based initiative can apply. If you’re not a charity, consider teaming up with one to deliver your initiative – collaborations are welcome.

Arts programmers, do we have your attention? This is a short timeline but well worth the effort to register.

Why? You’ve got nothing to lose!

If you have a new idea for which $5,000 means a pair of wings for your initiative to take flight and make an impact on our community, register it. If you need support for your ongoing arts programming to take it up a notch and make a bigger difference, register it.

There’s a lot to gain! At the very least you get a chance to engage your existing stakeholders and spread awareness to new audiences in Round 1, where stories are submitted to Oak Tree Project as nominations. At the end of this year’s Oak Tree Project, those stories are collected and transferred to you to help you communicate your impact whenever you need them. There will also be some opportunity at the finale to raise some funds for those who did not make the top prizes – this includes all registrants, not just those shortlisted.

In addition to spreading awareness of your organization’s initiative and valuable story-gathering, a prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the selected recipient, and an additional $1,000 to a runner-up.

Tip: Work hard to articulate WHY $5,000 will make a difference to your organization, rather than simply tell people WHAT you will do with it.

Check out last year’s finalists here:

Timeline for registrants:

  • Charity Registration Deadline – Monday, June 8. Registered charities, set up your online profiles with a description of the project you hope to fund by June 8. This can be programming you currently run or a new project. This can be a collaboration with another organization but must be submitted by the registered charity.
  • Now until July 15: Spread the word to your stakeholders and community at large! Tell them about your project and get them thinking about stories to submit for Round 1. Tag @guelpharts and @oaktreeguelph on your Twitter posts and @Guelph Arts Council and @The Oak Tree Project on Facebook so we can share your posts with all our followers. Stay tuned to our social media pages and websites for more tips on how to get votes for your charity.
  • June 15-July 15: Community members will have the chance to submit their stories/nominations from June 15 until July 15, and encourage their friends, families and peers to do the same. Each of these counts as a vote towards your project in Round 1. The top 5 charities with the most submissions will be shortlisted for Round 2.

More information is available at so visit, register, share through your networks, and reach out with any questions you might have about your initiative or nomination. Again, don’t forget to tag @oaktreeguelph and @guelpharts in your Twitter messages, and @Guelph Arts Council @The Oak Tree Project on Facebook so we can share with our followers as well.

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