Client Profile: Toronto Outdoor Picture Show

October 16th, 2019 by Iler Campbell

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Toronto Outdoor Picture Show (TOPS) is a Toronto‑based not-for profit that was originally founded in 2011 with its signature project, Christie Pits Film Festival (CPFF), a summer-long festival of free outdoor film screenings in the natural amphitheatre of Toronto’s Christie Pits Park.

CPFF is now Toronto’s largest public outdoor film festival and the epitome of magical summer evenings for many local residents. In 2015, the organization officially incorporated and adopted TOPS as its umbrella name. Since then, it has since expanded its programming and offers a summer‑long season across other areas of the city – from North York to Fort York, Toronto’s east side to Etobicoke – and has reached an audience of over 60,000 people over its 9-summer history. Each summer, the organization programs a combination of popular and critically-acclaimed feature films alongside local and Canadian short and feature films that celebrate excellent homegrown talent.

TOPS events have gained a reputation of being welcoming and inclusive places for all audiences. Being free of charge and having no gated access, the festival welcomes anyone who wishes to attend. TOPS programming is presented in accessible public spaces with on-screen captioning, ensuring that the films can be enjoyed by attendees using mobility devices and Deaf / hard of hearing audiences.

As programming expanded, TOPS determined that moving from renting to owning its own A/V equipment would allow greater organizational stability and flexibility to increase offerings in more parks. TOPS successfully raised part of the financing to purchase this A/V equipment through community bonds (interest‑bearing loans accessible to unaccredited investors). Community bonds allowed TOPS to leverage community support while providing investors with fair returns on their low‑risk investment.

TOPS is pleased to have worked with us at Iler Campbell over this past year on its community bonds project and on its application for charitable status.

Filed in: Client Profiles, Not for Profit Law