Canada’s leading contemporary outdoor and online art fair
Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF) is the charitable non-profit organization behind Canada’s largest and longest-running annual contemporary art fair. Established in 1961 to connect Canadian artists directly to the public, TOAF showcases 400+ emerging and established visual artists, including painters, photographers, sculptors and artists working in ceramics, textiles, jewellery and more. The event brings together 150,000 art lovers and enthusiasts who spend over 2 million dollars on art during the Fair. This free public event takes place every July – rain or shine – at Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. The Fair offers something for everyone: talks, tours, digital studio visits, curated collections, kids workshops, live painting, dance, music, art installations and food and drink experiences.
Years of launching artists’ careers
Canadian artists since 1961
In awards given to artists over 60 years
Visual artists and makers annually
Art lovers and collectors
Spent on artwork sales
For over 60 years, TOAF has been a key part in launching and sustaining the careers of 20,000 Canadian artists by directly connecting them to millions of art lovers, and public and private institutions. TOAF has given over one million dollars in awards, and continues to play an important role in nurturing the City of Toronto’s arts and culture sector while making art an integral part of the lives of Torontonians. Since 2020, TOAF has shown agility, innovation, and resiliency in serving their community by transforming into Toronto Online Art Fair, providing an online platform that continues to make a meaningful impact on artists’ lives and becoming Canada’s fastest-growing e-commerce and discovery platform for artists across Canada.
TOAF is known for hosting many nationally and internationally acclaimed Canadian artists under our iconic white tents at the early years of their careers including, Barbara Astman, David Blackwood, Edward Burtynsky, Ken Danby, Rob Gonsalves, Harlan House, Joanne Tod, and Jennifer Stead to name a few. Read what artists say about us.
TOAF is inclusive, accessible and radically welcoming to all artists and art enthusiasts.
Learn more about TOAF’s
Free Public Programs
Art, our innate human expression, should be accessible and inclusive.
Investing in art is investing in one’s quality of everyday life.
Investing in the creative economy of the city is part of our civic responsibility.
History: Launching artists’
careers since 1961
TOAF began in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Motor Hotel in 1961 when founders and philanthropists Murray and Marvelle Koffler joined forces with former Director of the National Gallery of Canada Alan Jarvis, and artist Jack Pollock. Four years later, the Fair moved to the newly built Nathan Phillips Square.
TOAF was founded on the premise that artists have the right to show and sell their work directly on city property. 60 years later, TOAF not only prevails but continues to innovate and reinvent the way we access art.
“In 1960, my wife Marvelle and I had spent a weekend in New York where we were delighted in attending the famed Washington Square outdoor art show. On the plane home, we read in a Toronto newspaper that a group of artists had been ousted from the front of City Hall for trying to display and sell their artworks. Immediately, a great idea struck me! Why not invite these and other budding artists to show at a non-city-owned location.
The timing could not have been more appropriate. My partners and I were preparing to open the Four Seasons Motor Hotel on Jarvis Street in Toronto, and the parking lot and courtyard were ideally suited for this purpose. We chose the weekend of August 5 & 6, 1961. My friend, Alan Jarvis, former head of the National Gallery of Canada, chaired a committee of interested volunteers to mount the very first Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. And, as they say, the rest is history.”
The Late Murray B. Koffler, O.C., O.Ont. Founder, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (formerly Exhibition)
Read TOAF Memories shared by past and present TOAF artists:
“I did the TOAF directly upon graduating from OCA (now called OCAD University). There was a small group of us from the art college that all decided to do this together for moral support… I did sell a few pieces at the show and occasionally have run into people all these years later who remind me that they bought a piece there for a very reasonable price and how happy the work has made them over the years. I was happy that they took a chance on me, a young unknown artist… I think all young artists should do this show and learn what there is to be learned from the whole experience!”Barbara Astman, Photographer
“I spent a few summers in the early 80’s at the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair with my work. It was a great experience meeting fellow Torontonians and tourists and having a chance to tell my story. I even sold a few prints which made the experience that much better!”Edward Burtynsky, Photographer