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Supporting arts and culture

We believe that arts and culture should be celebrated within our communities and made accessible to individuals and families, regardless of their means.

Making the Arts More Accessible™ program

Our support of the arts is rooted in our award-winning Making the Arts More Accessible™ program. This program's mandate is to fund philanthropic initiatives that enable Canadians of limited financial means to attend and enjoy arts performances and to support music schools that provide lessons for at-risk children and youth and those from high-priority neighbourhoods.

National partnerships and programs:

Culture Days

Culture Days is a collaborative, national volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of people from all regions of Canada in the artistic and cultural life of their communities. In Quebec, Sun Life has also sponsored Les journées de la culture in support of les Choix Famille Financière Sun Life program, with 100 activities that helped families to discover and enjoy culture in all of its forms.

Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library

This program provides individuals who have a valid library card with the opportunity to borrow a variety of instruments such as guitars, ukuleles, violins, hand drums and portable keyboards. This remarkable program operates out of Toronto Public Library’s Parkdale Branch, and Vancouver Public Library’s Central Library downtown. This national initiative will see similar musical instrument lending libraries launched in cities across Canada. Sun Life approached the libraries with the idea of creating this program, and, in addition to providing philanthropic funding, donated 100 musical instruments to each library to establish the collection.

Sarah McLachlan School of Music

Sun Life is proud to be a partner of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music (SoM) in Vancouver and the Founding Sponsor of SoM Edmonton. The School's vision is to help enrich the lives of at-risk and underserved children and youth by providing top-quality music instruction at no cost. As one of our largest donations to date, both schools reflect the core goal of Sun Life Financial's Signature Making the Arts More Accessible Program™; providing Canadians the opportunity to enjoy the very best of our country's arts and cultural community, regardless of their financial means. In 2015, we launched a Musical Instrument Donation Drive and individual monetary donation matching program benefitting SoM Vancouver. Sun Life matched individual monetary contributions of $50,000, resulting in SoM raising over $100,000, with Sun Life's match. In addition, the community cleaned out their closets and donated 150 musical instruments.

Regional partnerships and programs:

Calgary Public Library Foundation

Through the Sun Life Financial Arts + Culture Pass, Calgary Public Library cardholders registered with the City of Calgary Fee Assistance Program have the opportunity to attend the theatre, museums, historic attractions, cultural festivals, dance and music performances and the zoo – all free of charge. As part of our Making the Arts More Accessible™ program, our donation enables individuals and families, regardless of their financial or social means, to enjoy arts and culture.

Esplanade Financière Sun Life

Located just outside Olympic Stadium, the Esplanade Financière Sun Life offers a dazzling, family-friendly program of free outdoor shows, physical activities and events. Sun Life Financial is proud to partner with this city landmark and support cultural activities in Montreal .

National Theatre School of Canada

In celebration of the National Theatre School's 50th anniversary, Sun Life Financial made a special donation in support of the Theatre for Young Audience program. Under this program, directors, writers and actors are trained in the creation and production of theatre for school aged children. Schools are then invited to the National Theatre School to enjoy these productions and provide feedback .

National Arts Centre

Sun Life Financial is the presenting sponsor of the National Arts Centre's (NAC) Share the Spirit program. This initiative is aimed at children and families in the Ottawa area who, for financial or health reasons, may not have the opportunity to attend live performances at the NAC. Families participate through NAC's various community partners, enjoying live performances during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Sun Life Financial Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival

A widely anticipated summer jazz music event, this festival draws more than 35,000 people over 3 days for free live performances.

Toronto Public Library Museum + Arts Pass Program

The Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass Program (MAP) gives families access to free passes (available at all 100 branches of the Toronto Public Library) to local museums, art galleries and other cultural venues. Both the number of passes available and cultural venues participating continue to increase, along with new in-branch cultural programming featuring activities, speakers and exhibits from Toronto's cultural organizations.

Vancouver International Children's Festival

The Vancouver International Children's Festival's Adopt a Class program is an 8-day event featuring acclaimed international and Canadian artists. Our annual funding enables up to 700 children from inner-city schools in neighbourhoods across Greater Vancouver to attend the festival.

Apply for funding:

To apply for funding, read our Philanthropy Program Guidelines.