Municipal Elections and Your Museum

  • Municipal Elections and Your Museum
    Municipal Elections and Your Museum

Ontario’s municipal government elections will be taking place on Monday October 22, 2018.

In Ontario, municipalities are responsible for projects like roads, public transit, and local policing, AND they also have a major role to play in the sustainability of the province’s museums.

Municipalities are a major funder for many museums in the province. For the 94% of museums in Ontario with annual revenue under $2 million, municipalities contribute 50% of total funding (Ontario’s Museums 2014 Profile) . Municipalities matter to museums, and museums matter to their communities.

  • Museums and Your Municipality, a handout that provides information on the benefits and possibilities of museums and their communities is available here
  • Ontario's Museums, a handout that provides summary information about museums in the province and the OMA's Action plan is available here. 

Ontario’s museums are places of civic and educational engagement with programs that focus on seniors, early-years development and more, strengthening the communities where they are found. For this election, all candidates should be made aware of their community’s museums and what they mean for all Ontarians.

This toolkit provides resources and techniques that can help ensure a well-informed voice when it comes to advocating for museums with municipal candidates. 

The OMA is here to assist members in advocating for museums in Ontario. If you have any questions about the content of this toolkit, please reach out to


Why advocate?

Building relationships with candidates in the municipal election is mutually beneficial:

-it ensures candidates are aware of the important role museums have in their community, and the role of their municipality in supporting those museums

-it gives museums allies in the community

-it teaches candidates more about their local community and engages them with their constituents


Municipalities can help museums:

-retain and grow stable funding

-build partnerships

-provide better service and reach wider audiences


With municipal support, museums can help:

-revitalize downtown areas

-improve local quality of life

-attract and retain a skilled workforce, and

-enhance feelings of belonging in the community


Steps to Museum Advocacy with Municipal Elections:

  1. Register to vote! Voting is the first and simplest tool for museum advocacy can provide information on your registration status and the jurisdictions in which you can vote


  1. Make sure you, your staff, and your volunteers are informed about the benefits of museums for Ontario communities. The OMA has produced a fact sheet about municipalities and museums that can be downloaded here:


  1. Make a list of the ways you benefit your local community

                -what programs do you run?

                -how do your exhibitions help tell local stories?

                -what role do you play as a local tourism advocate?

                -how do you serve as a place of education for children, youth, and adults?

                -how do you engage with specific groups (seniors, newcomers, etc.)?

Putting together these facts as a fact sheet graphic and/or social media post is a great way to showcase your impact.

Two great examples of these have been produced by:

  • The Brockville Museum here 
  • Glanmore National Historic Site here.           

Free websites to create this type of “infographic” can be found in the Resources at the end of this document.

Tell candidates what your museum does for your community!


  1. Engage with all candidates

For all interactions with election candidates on behalf of your museum, it’s important to keep a few ground rules in mind:

  • Be respectful
  • Be polite
  • Ask questions
  • Listen to candidates’ responses
  • Engage equally with all candidates
  • Be consistent
  • Be non-partisan
    • WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE NON-PARTISAN? Partisan political activity is the direct or indirect promotion of a political candidate or party, or the direct or indirect opposition to a political party or candidate. As representatives of the museum sector, we want you to talk about and share information about our non-partisan issues - which do not favour or criticize a specific political party or candidate - and foster discussion about these important matters. We believe strongly that museums positively impact a broad cross-section of Ontarians in every community across the province. As a sector, we have and will continue to work collaboratively and constructively with representatives of all political parties to achieve meaningful change benefitting our museums and communities. (credit: ONN Election Toolkit)

The main ways of engaging with all candidates include in-person meetings and social media

  1.  In person meetings

For all in-person meetings, bring along copies of the OMA’s Museums and Your Municipality Handout and any facts you have about your museum (see Steps 2 and 3 above)

  1. Town Hall / Open Forum Meetings

For any opportunities to ask candidates questions in an open forum, here are some example questions:

  1. How would you support the contribution of museums in our community?
  2. Do you support museum funding?
  3. How could museums work with your government to create opportunities and benefits for your constituents?
  4. Do you believe museums have value? How has a museum positively impacted your life?


Alternatively, host an open forum at your museum for all candidates discuss the importance of museums in their region!


  1. Meetings in your museum

You can also invite all candidates to meet with you!


If you are able to meet with a candidate, ask permission to take a photograph together and post it to social media! See more about social media posts below.


  1. Via social media

Here are some tips for engaging with all candidates via social media:

  • Tag all local candidates in social media posts
  • Use #MuseumsConnectON and Tag the OMA @MuseumsOntario
  • Use pictures (with permission!) whenever possible
  • Use your own museum facts (see Step 3 above)

Here are some example social media posts, with clickable links to send them as tweets. These posts will also be effective if they are adjusted to reflect the focus and facts of your institution!


  • Museums provide engaging opportunities to make contributions to your community. Volunteers contributed more than 2.6 million hours to Ontario’s heritage institutions in 2015! #MuseumsConnectON @MuseumsOntario [Click HERE to Tweet] 


  • Two-thirds of museums in Ontario focus primarily on local community & history. More than half maintain a collection of greater than 10,000 objects! #MuseumsConnectON @MuseumsOntario [Click HERE to Tweet] 


  • #DYK Ontario’s museums see more than 7.5 million visits by tourists every year?  #MuseumsConnectON @MuseumsOntario [Click HERE to Tweet]




Resources and Other Election Toolkits:

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs Voter’s Guide:

Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) Advocacy for Arts Organizations: A Toolkit for Engaging in the 2018 Provincial and Municipal Elections:

Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) Election Toolkit: A guide for nonprofits to meaningfully engage in elections- Ontario election 2018:

Free Resources to Create Infographics, Fact Sheets, or Social Media Images:





OMA Resources:

Museums and Your Municipality: 

Ontario’s Museums 2025 Strategic Vision and Action Plan:

Ontario’s Museums 2014 Profile: