Artist Development Microgrant

Grant Announcement Categories: Artist Development Microgrant

Artist Development Microgrant

Applying to the Artist Development Microgrant? Calgary Arts Development is pleased to offer this online and on demand information session.

Allowing artists to respond to new approaches and emergent needs, reduce barriers to opportunities, and contribute to skills, knowledge, and professional development, this program aims to advance professional arts and artistic practices in Calgary (known as Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot).

The purpose of this session is to provide a little more context around the development of the Artist Development Microgrant and its specific goals. It also provides some approaches, examples, and questions that might be helpful to consider when determining if you will apply and how best to do so.

Be sure to read the full guidelines and apply by 4:30pm MT on February 16, 2021.


Please note that Calgary Arts Development staff are continuing to work remotely. If you have any questions about this program please review the Investment Program FAQ page and contact Taylor Poitras, Specialist, Individuals and Collectives Programs, at 403.264.5330 ext.215 or

Hello welcome to the online information session for the 2021 Artist Development Microgrant.

I’d like to take an opportunity to acknowledge the traditional and ancestral territories of the Niitsitapi (The Blackfoot Confederacy) which include the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations, as well as the Tsuu T’ina First Nation and Stoney Nakoda, comprised of the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations of Treaty 7.

I’d also like to acknowledge the people of the Métis Nation, Region 3, and all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, from across North America that call Calgary, Mohkinsstsis, home.

My name is Taylor Poitras and I’m the specialist for individual and collective programs at Calgary Arts Development. I am the main contact person for the Artist Development Microgrant, so you may reach out to me directly if you have any questions about the program or need support applying.

Van Chu, grants coordinator, is also available to help with any general or technical questions you may have for the grants team. Van will either assist you directly or ensure you reach the correct person. is a good go-to email address if you ever have any questions about our granting programs and aren’t sure who to reach out to.

To begin I would like to speak a bit to our values. Beyond our mandate and the criteria of our programs, we strive to approach our work in all aspects of the granting cycle with the values of: One size fits one, nothing about us without us, and virtuous cycles.

These are inclusive design concepts that we have been exploring in our work with the help of JD Derbyshire, our inclusive designer in residence.

One size fits one: We acknowledge that systems like granting, are usually designed in a one size fits all way, meaning they are often designed to fit the dominant culture, while creating barriers for many others. Because of this, we aim to continue learning more from our communities about the specific challenges and barriers that exist, creating more entry points for access, and working with applicants in a more one size fits one way. We acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do on an individual, organizational, and systemic level.

Part of one size fits one means that what you tell us about your work is our starting point for understanding the impact of it. So, while it’s my job to be an expert in the programs I run, it’s your job to be an expert in your own practice; be authentic to who you are as an artist, what you want to do, and why it’s important to you. This also means that it is your responsibility to tell a clear and meaningful story about how your work or proposed activities align to the goals and criteria of the program you’re applying to.

Nothing about us without us: When it comes to equity, diversity, inclusion, and access, we know that it is both a goal, but also an ongoing and iterative process of learning and changing. Some of you may be aware of the public conversations we’ve been having around equity, diversity, inclusion, access, and anti-racism. This work ties into the concept of nothing about us without us.

There are things at Calgary Arts Development (CADA) will not tolerate such as hate speech, cultural appropriation, and active exclusionary behaviours so please be aware that applications or projects that contain this will not be accepted or moved to assessment. Nothing about us without us is the belief that if you are creating work about a specific community, that community needs to be actively engaged and consulted, and there needs to be a clear, intentional, and reciprocal relationship. We value and honour lived experience and the intersectional and unique experiences of different people and communities.

Virtuous cycles: In the context of our programs, it means that every time you do something it creates a positive feedback loop that moves you forward in a productive way. For us when we run a program we try to learn and adjust. It isn’t about doing everything perfectly or doing something because it’s always been done that way, or about maintaining the status quo—it’s about asking yourself how will this grant create a virtuous, rather than a vicious cycle, for you in your practice, whereby you can learn through not only success but also through failure. We value process and the idea and experience of failing forward.

Calgary Arts Development’s main purpose is to steward public dollars for the public good and that means for all Calgarians. This means that we have a responsibility to design programs that are accessible and open to all perspectives and experiences that exist in our communities.

Something we are learning on our journey at CADA is that you cannot truly achieve diversity, inclusion or access without focusing on equity, so I thought I’d share our current working definition of equity. And I say working definition because this is an ongoing process for us, as we deepen our understanding of what it means to be in relationship with all Calgarians.

Equity: An approach to diversity in which differences amongst all people in a community group or organization are accommodated on an individual basis, and historical exclusions and systematic barriers that are unique to diverse people are taken into account.

Equity thus creates an equalized sense of belonging and shared authority for all people present and is often contrasted with “equality” in which all people are treated the same.

We recognize that our granting programs and processes create barriers to access for many artists who are interested in applying. Our programs are written in English, shared online, and require applicants to submit online applications in English. This creates technical, linguistic, communication, and cultural barriers, to name a few.

In recognition of this, we will work one-on-one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their unique abilities and situations.

Some examples of accommodations are: Translation of written materials into other languages, including ASL. Transcription of verbal meetings or audio and video recordings into a written document. Verbal, video or audio applications. If you would prefer to answer the application questions verbally you can submit an audio or video recording of yourself or our staff can help record your responses using an online platform, such as Zoom. Language interpretation for phone or video meetings. And grant writing assistance if you need help (from program staff or others).

As the program specialist, I will make myself available to answer questions or provide feedback on your draft application. Please reach out to me as early as you can to ensure that I’m able to provide the best support possible. I can provide feedback up to one week before the application deadline.

Due to the one-time nature and specificity of this program, as well as our expectations around volume and competition, we will be unable to provide feedback to applicants after notifications go out, whether you are successful or not. We are however open to conversations leading up to the Project Grant Program for Individuals and Collectives, as guidelines for that program are being created over the next two months and will be published by March 28.

We also want to recognize the limitations our staff have to adequately support all applicant needs, so we have begun to formalize a process for applicants to request assistance to help alleviate some of the costs associated with preparing and submitting a grant application.

You may be eligible for assistance to pay someone to help you complete an application if you are: An artist who is Deaf, hard of hearing, has a disability or is living with a mental illness, or an artist facing language, geographic or cultural barriers.

To request application assistance please contact me at least two to four weeks before you plan to submit your application, which means no later than February 1, 2021 for the microgrant.

If requesting assistance, you will need to provide the name and contact information of someone who can help you. This could be a trusted friend or family member, or a professional service provider. We may be able to make recommendations depending on the service being requested, as well as the amount you are requesting, including the service provider’s hourly rate.

Depending on the type of service or assistance you are requesting, Calgary Arts Development has outlined the maximum amounts that we are currently able to provide towards the Artist Development Microgrant. These amounts range from $80 to $300 depending on the service.

If approved, I will confirm the amount Calgary Arts Development is able to contribute. Your service provider must send an invoice to us for the amount that is approved. Staff will then process the invoice and pay the service provider.

Now, let’s dive into the Artist Development Microgrant.

First, I’d like to share that this program was made possible through the generous contributions of private donors, which we are very grateful for. More detailed information around this can be found in the program guidelines on our website.

The purpose of this information session is not to read through the program guidelines verbatim. The program guidelines and FAQs have a lot more detail in them than this information session does and will be very important to review before you apply.

The purpose of this session is to provide a little more context around the development of this program and its specific goals, as well as provide some approaches, examples, and questions that might be helpful to consider when determining if you will apply and how best to do so.

As I mentioned, this program was privately funded and developed late last year. One of the requests from the donor was that this funding go towards supporting individual artists who were impacted by COVID-19. Because of the deep and immediate impact of COVID, the donor also wanted funds to be invested in artists quickly. A microgrant allows us to do just this—get the money into the hands of artists.

Microgrants allow funders to identify specific needs within the community and direct money towards those needs in an intentional way. Microgrant programs aren’t intended to be everything to everyone, or to address all of the needs or opportunities that might be available to artists right now. The specific focus and goal of the program is what allows us to shorten the processing and assessment time, and get money into the hands of artists as quickly as possible. A microgrant allows us to identify a few key opportunities we see in the sector and focus on removing some financial barriers to address them.

We approached the design of this program by asking what artists would have needed before the pandemic to be more prepared and able to sustain, adapt or respond better? What would artists have needed last year to lessen the impact?

Think about what you can be investing your time and energy in, while we are in a time period where many artists cannot share their work publicly due to health and safety concerns, restrictions, guidelines, closures, and cancellations. Think about how you might work, invest in or navigate your career in a way that doesn’t rely on gathering and presentations right now.

We also considered the reality of our programs and the trends we are noticing, one being that we are oversubscribed. This simply means we receive more requests for funding than we could ever support and the need for support within our arts community has only increased in the current context. Recognizing that every program cannot meet the needs of every circumstance or opportunity that exists, we tried to look at specific types of impact and what artists could access or invest time in right now. Professional development is one of those. Business development is one of those. Pivoting or adapting work that was interrupted by COVID is one of those.

The goal of this program is to allow artists to respond to new approaches and emergent needs, reduce barriers to opportunities, contribute to skills, knowledge, and professional development, thereby advancing professional arts and artistic practices in Calgary.

The reason we haven’t opened this program up to supporting the creation of new work, is because it is a microgrant. While we know some artists can do a lot with $2,500, we wanted this program to focus on the stabilization of artists in their practices as a whole. Whereas our Project Grant Program for Individuals and Collectives is much better equipped to meaningfully support artists in the creation of new work. The Project Grant Program offers longer possible project timelines and much higher grant amounts. That program has a deadline of June 14.

A common question we receive that I will go over is: If I already received a grant from CADA last year, or this year from another program, am I still eligible to apply? Or, if I apply to this program, can I apply to other CADA programs this year?

The answer is yes. You are still eligible to apply to the microgrant if you received a grant from another CADA program, but you cannot receive more than one CADA grant for the same activity or project. You could apply for an entirely different activity or for a completely different phase of the same activity, but there cannot be overlapping expenses. If you are unsuccessful in a previous application, you may reapply with the same activity, as long as it is eligible within the program guidelines.

Here is a quick overview of the microgrant program timeline.

Applications are being accepted up until the application deadline of Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 4:30pm MT.

We are expecting a large volume of applications to this program. Late submissions will not be accepted (see our Deadline Extension Policy).

Please get your applications in early. The peer assessment committee will be reading and evaluating applications on an ongoing basis as they are submitted so submitting early helps us manage the volume.

The assessment process will continue until all applications have been evaluated.

Notifications will go out via email in mid-March letting applicants know if they were successful or not and confirming grant amounts.

We intend to have all funds distributed by March 31, 2021.

If time and money is a concern for you, consider applying for something that occurs after March 31 because we cannot guarantee funds earlier than that.

Activities funded through this program must be complete by June 30, 2021.

Again, this timeline was designed to get money into the hands of artists to invest in their practice as soon as possible. Prioritizing those activities that are happening right away means the investment and impact into communities is also felt more immediately.

Please keep in mind that we are unable to fund activities retroactively, which means that you cannot apply for an activity that will already be complete before the program deadline,

February 16, 2021. That being said, it can already be underway by that date, just not fully complete.

I will go over the assessment process for this program later on; however, more details on peer assessment committees can be found in the program guidelines and assessor Terms of Reference. If you know of anyone who would be a good assessor for our programs, there is a nomination form on our website, or you can send us an email.

So, what can you apply for?

I’ll reiterate here that the goal of this microgrant is to support artists impacted by COVID-19 by helping them to respond to new approaches and emergent needs, reduce barriers to opportunities, and contribute to skills, knowledge, and professional development, thereby advancing professional arts and artistic practices in Calgary.

When we say this program isn’t intended to support the creation of new work, what we are saying is: We are not going to be assessing the content, aesthetic or quality of your work or a specific body of work. This program is centred on development not creation.

It’s a development microgrant not a project grant. We aren’t supporting artists fees or materials for a new body of work that you haven’t begun, because this program is looking specifically at impact from COVID up until this point. That is a central piece to this program.

That being said, we know that there may be some specific cases where you were already in the process of creating work and had a commitment that was halted by COVID-19 and you need something specific to continue moving that forward to meet that current commitment. But again, it’s not about future work or future commitments.

So, the question to ask yourself is “What is the thing you need in order to make work and support your practice as a whole (not a specific body of work) that will allow you to better respond, adapt, reduce barriers, and move forward?”

I’ll go over some of the eligible activities listed in the guidelines:

Professional development activities (this could be workshops, classes, courses, conferences, skill and technical development, residencies, mentorships, internships, apprenticeships, specialized training, etc.)

These activities are about the development of skills, knowledge, relationships, and experiences that are going to benefit your professional artistic practice into the future.

Business development activities (this could be web development, e-commerce, small business development, marketing support, etc.)

These activities are about the development of skills, knowledge, relationships, and experiences that might allow you to better market or monetize your work. These activities might provide you the skills you need around financial management or allow you to create a sustainable plan to make money off of your work or lead to future opportunities and commitments.

Access to new technologies or digital opportunities (this could include equipment or tools needed to effectively create and share work in direct response to COVID).

When we say in direct response to COVID, this means you need this specific tool or piece of equipment to share your work because you’re no longer able to make and share your work in the same way you used to. For example, you’re a performing artist who used to perform live in-person and now you need to re-imagine a way to share your work in the digital realm and so you need access to equipment or technology that will allow you to do this. We know that you will make work with this equipment and that’s great, but we aren’t assessing the work itself, which you will eventually make. We are assessing how this will set you up for success in the future. In other words, it’s not the WHAT of your work, it’s the HOW: How will this allow you to respond, adapt, and continue your practice in the current context?

Activities related to space or safety (for example, storage space, personal protective equipment, etc.).

A question I know folks will have here is, well what about studio rental? Is that eligible? My answer is: That while it is technically eligible you will need to make a clear case for it, the same way you would for tools and equipment.

We understand that purpose-built space is a necessary thing for artists working in certain disciplines and that you cannot always do things from home. That being said, when it comes to supporting studio space through this program, it’s about allowing you to either, one, maintain a space you that already have, or, two, support the cost of a space that will allow you to access a specific professional or business development opportunity, or, three, support the continuation of an activity or commitment that was halted by COVID. So, it’s not for renting a new space to make new work or rehearse in.

Here are some possible examples:

The financial impact of COVID-19 and lost income has made it so that you cannot support the monthly cost of your studio and you need help to maintain this to continue making and sharing your work. You lost your previous space or cannot access it due to COVID restrictions, so you need access to a new storage space to store your materials, tools or work, or perhaps you need access to PPE in order to safely access the space. You could make a case for needing access to a studio space because now your kids are home all the time and you can no longer create and share work from home. Or perhaps you are pivoting online and need a space for staging and documenting your work. Or perhaps you are scaling up volume and production of your work in response to COVID and need more access to storage or space.

When it comes to requesting space, consider how was it impacted by COVID and how will investing in you in this way allow you to maintain the continuity of your work and practice, and push you into the future?

Activities related to the adaptation or completion of work that began before January 2021 and was interrupted or affected by COVID-19.

If you are planning on applying for the adaptation or completion of work that began before January (which may involve creation aspects), you should be able to demonstrate and speak to how that has directly been impacted by COVID-19.

For example, my public performance was cancelled and must move online. I am no longer able to access the studio space I had booked, so I need to find another to finish the piece I was commissioned for. The contract fees for artists I was engaging with shifted due to COVID and I now have to pay new or increased fees. Me or someone on my team needed to quarantine for 10 days, and my process was disrupted.

If you apply for this, you must demonstrate the work and how it began prior to January 2021, as well as the COVID impact to make a strong case.

If this is a brand-new idea that you have not begun working on in any meaningful way before January, or you did not have a commitment to, or it was not shut down or directly impacted by COVID-19, that is what we mean by new creation.

Now all of that being said, we understand that these are extraordinary times and that impact from this pandemic is unique to everyone. There will always be exceptions and different access points to the goals of this program and the criteria, so please reach out and we can navigate eligibility and approaches together. I am sure there are many unique circumstances, impacts, and nuances that our team did not consider or could not have imagined. It’s impossible to one size fits all, all of these things especially during these times, so please reach out.

I won’t go over the full list of eligible expenses as they are outlined in the guidelines and are the kinds of expenses you would expect to be related to the eligible activities we just went over.

I will however outline some of the ineligible expenses: Artist fees or material costs related to the creation and development of entirely new work (which I just spoke to). Subsistence expenses (such as food, rent, utilities, etc.). Lost wages or salaries.

Meaning we cannot directly cover lost income from losing your job or taking time off of your day job or other work, in order to undertake your proposed activities.

However, this can of course be an impact of COVID-19 that you speak to in your application.

Tuition, or other costs related to post-secondary or credit, degree, or diploma granting educational programs or artistic work related to those educational programs.

Just to clarify here, if you are taking a continuing education course at an institution, that is an eligible activity.

We just can’t pay for your diploma or degree, so if you are taking courses in pursuit of a degree or diploma, we cannot cover any costs associated with that.

Purchase of or financial contribution towards major pieces of equipment, land, or buildings over a total of $1,000.

Purchase of any equipment not directly related or relevant to the activity, your artistic practice, or in response to COVID-19 impacts or restrictions (as we discussed if you are requesting the purchase of equipment you will need to make a clear case).

Why do we have a $1,000 cap on equipment purchases?

Major purchases of equipment, land or buildings are considered capital expenses. They outlive the life of the project or activity that you’re applying for. Some examples of capital equipment might be the purchase of a new laptop, a kiln, a camera, lighting equipment, an instrument, etc. So, while there is no limit on rental costs for equipment, you may only invest $1,000 of this grant towards the purchase of these items, if you are able to show how the remainder will be covered.

There is only $130,000 available through this program and while we understand that you sometimes need expensive things to make work, we want to see this funding reinvested back into the arts community, and support as many artists as possible. The purchase of major equipment has a long-term benefit for artists of course, but it isn’t quite the same as addressing immediate development needs impacted by COVID or the development of artistic practice as an investment in the community, which is the focus of this program.

If you make a request for the purchase of equipment, approach it the same way you would make any other request; demonstrate a strong and clear case for it. For example, first explain why you need this particular equipment and how it will impact your proposed activity, artistic development or practice. Then it will be important to make a case for why you should own the equipment versus renting it. Consider what the cost difference is, if it’s for short-term project use or a long-term investment, how it will be used in the future to continue to help you, and if it will create opportunities for future sharing.

The assessment committee will read and score applications online in the granting interface between January to mid March.

Assessors will first be asked to evaluate the applicants on a yes/no basis for program eligibility, based on what has been provided in the application.

The three eligibility questions are: Is the applicant based in Calgary, or do they demonstrate a clear and ongoing relationship to Calgary?

Two, does the applicant demonstrate that their practice was impacted by COVID-19?

And three, is the proposed activity or work eligible under the stated program goal?

If the majority of assessors respond no for any of the eligibility criteria, the applicant may be contacted for follow-up by myself or disqualified from assessment. So, if you are unsure about any of these eligibility factors please reach out before submitting.

Applications will also be evaluated on three program criteria: Relevance, impact, and feasibility.

Assessors will be asked to rate four statements that are directly related to these program criteria, based on what you’ve provided in the application.

So, let’s dig into the criteria statements and how they will be rated.

Criteria number one, relevance.

The applicant has demonstrated clear goals for this activity that align with their artistic practice and the specific requirements of the microgrant program.

We are looking for activities that are relevant to your practice and experiences over this past year. Be thoughtful and considerate of the types of things that will benefit your practice during this time that meet the goals and requirements of this program. Outline precise and specific goals with a clear tie to how they will benefit your practice. Ensure that you’ve provided enough information and context for the assessors to draw these connections.

For example: Say you’re a dance artist applying to take a film production class. Provide some context around why or how you arrived at that decision and what the circumstances are around that. You might talk about how creating quality dance films at this time is relevant and important for you to share our work until we can return to in-person performances. It might seem obvious to you but if you can provide rationale and context it helps fill in the gaps so that assessors don’t need to guess why a shift in that direction is necessary or relevant to your practice.

Criteria number two, impact.

The applicant has demonstrated clear reasons why this activity is timely and how the grant will help them achieve their goals.

The applicant has explained how this activity will help or allow them to be more responsive to challenges and opportunities in the time of COVID-19.

Here I just want to speak to the difference between relevance and timeliness. Timeliness is around why it’s important to do this now. For example, “I don’t want to lose momentum off the work I was in the middle of producing,” “I know there is a submission deadline coming up,” and “I know I’ll be back to my day job in September so right now I have the gift of time to undertake this development,” etc.

It’s really important to consider and speak directly to how your proposed activity will allow you to respond to new approaches and emergent needs, reduce barriers to opportunities, and contribute to skills, knowledge, and professional development in the time of COVID, as these are the goals of the program. How will this activity propel you forward, set you up and allow you to achieve your goals?

We know there is some overlap between relevance and impact and that’s okay—the application will be assessed in a holistic way. Different aspects of your application will speak to all of the criteria in both direct and indirect ways. There might be something in your artist statement that speaks to impact or something in your COVID impact description that speaks to relevance or a support material that speaks to feasibility.


The artist has the capacity or skills, time, and support, to complete this activity and it is achievable within the budget and timeline provided.

This is a really important piece to consider with this grant. We foresee the primary concern around this piece being related to COVID-19.

If your proposed activity requires any aspect of public gathering or travel, you must follow all COVID-19 related guidelines and restrictions (for example: Restrictions or recommendations on gatherings, social distancing, availability, and rules for venues or spaces, travel restrictions and recommendations, mandatory quarantine periods, etc.). You will need to make a strong case for feasibility and concreteness by clearly demonstrating that your proposed activity can and will occur before June 30, especially if it involves any elements that may be directly influenced by current and ongoing COVID-19 related restrictions. Please include any relevant considerations and necessary contingency plans in your application.

We understand that things may continue to shift due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, however given the timeline and intention of this program, activities that are less likely to be cancelled or postponed due to restrictions will be a priority. If your proposed activity is cancelled or postponed beyond June 30, 2021 due to a foreseeable restriction, you may be asked to return the grant funds.

When we say foreseeable restrictions, another shutdown of public gatherings and events would be considered foreseeable. So really think back on the possibilities of what could happen this year, based on everything we’ve witnessed up until now and be very thoughtful about what you’re proposing.

If you are proposing activities or work that go against restrictions at the time of submission, there will likely be some concern. We feel very strongly about community responsibility and taking care of the people around us. Safety and health considerations are very important to consider.

Call us if you are unsure or have questions about your specific circumstances, and please visit our information about COVID-19 page and stay up to date on the latest news and measures from reliable public health authorities. Over the past year we have been adjusting our scoring processes to make it clearer what you’re being scored on and how you might achieve a high score. We have also been adjusting our scoring processes to suit the specific program. In this program we will be able to fund a minimum of 52 artists, but we know we will be receiving many more applications than that. This is why we develop scoring mechanisms and tools.

In this program, each of the four criteria statements we just reviewed will be given a rating of either 1, 5, or 10.

This system is being used because we have a large committee of assessors evaluating a large number of applications online and using a 1, 5, 10 rating system will create clear ranges or bands, which should make it easier to prioritize investments based on the program criteria.

With this rating system your maximum potential score is 40 and your minimum is four. But it’s important to understand that the rating numbers or numerical values don’t much matter. They are not percentages, so do not get hung up on the numbers.

What does matter is the description for each rating which ties directly to the program criteria. I won’t read out the full descriptions for each rating (those can be referenced in the program guidelines), but to summarize, the ratings evaluate the clarity and thoroughness of your responses to the application, the clarity and relevance of your goals and how they relate to your practice, the specificity around the impact and benefit to your practice, and the confidence your application instills in the activity being completing and supporting your goals.

So quite simply the difference between the three ratings has to do with things like clarity and specificity, and providing enough context, detail, and support. Make it easy for the assessment committee to understand, see the connections, and have trust and confidence in your application.

The assessment committee will read and score applications online as they are submitted between January to March.

The program specialist, myself, will review the committee’s evaluations and average total scores, and the top-rated applications will receive funding through the program.

If there are applications with tied final scores but insufficient funds left in the grant budget to support these applications, activities proposed by artists belonging to an equity priority group will be prioritized.

Applicants that self-identify on the voluntary demographic survey included in the grant application as belonging to these equity priority groups are automatically considered for this equity measure. Information provided in the voluntary demographic survey will not be shared with assessors and will only be viewable by program staff. Any tie-breaking decisions based on equity priorities will be made by the program specialist.

The equity priority groups identified for this program are: Indigenous, Black, persons of colour, Deaf persons, persons with disabilities, persons living with mental illness, 2SLGBTQIAP+ individuals.

For details on each of these equity priority groups, please refer to the equity priority group descriptions on our website.

What I really want to focus on is, what is the purpose of equity groups?

Calgary Arts Development acknowledges that there are many barriers to access and full participation in our society, sector, and granting programs, which have historically disadvantaged some groups over others. In order to help address underserved individuals and communities who have experienced barriers to funding and access to opportunities in our arts sector, we have identified equity priority groups and adopted this specific equity measure. These priorities and descriptions were adapted from the Toronto Arts Council’s Equity Framework and we are grateful to them for their work in this area.

Equity priority groups and equity processes, policies, and measures will continue to change and be adapted as needed based on ongoing evaluation, community engagement, and feedback, changing population, funding gaps, responses to the arts sector, and more. This is an iterative process that is intended to be responsive.

This is a checklist of everything you’ll be asked to provide in the application. Most of it is very straightforward but if you have questions let us know.

You’ll be asked for your current contact information, 25 words or less description of your application, the amount you are requesting, the start and end date of your activity, your artistic discipline, years of practice, and a resume or CV. I will talk about artistic resumes in greater detail in a moment.

The introduction to artistic practice, COVID-19 impact, description of activities, and impact section are the four written parts of the application which I will speak about in a moment.

You’ll upload a project budget using our standard budget template which is available for download directly in the application.

There’s also an area to provide additional support materials.

I will take a moment to talk about the voluntary demographic survey which will be available directly within the application:

We have begun collecting voluntary demographic information from applicants. These questions are an important part of our aim to increase understanding at an aggregate level of the individuals seeking funding, while providing the art sector with much needed data on the demographics of its workforce. Completion of the demographic questions is not required. It’s being collected on a voluntary basis. You’re not required to complete the questions, but you can choose which questions not to answer—there will always be a prefer not to answer option. The information provided in this section will not be provided to assessors but may be referenced by myself in the event of a tie-breaker scenario, as I mentioned before.

In short, your responses to these questions are voluntary, will remain anonymous, and will only be shared in combination with many other responses, meaning they will not be connected to you personally. So, we do encourage you to fill that out in your application.

You may notice that we have provided a maximum word (or character) count for each written section of the application. This should be considered the maximum, not the goal. If you do not need to use up the word count to make your case, don’t feel compelled to fill space. However, it is important to provide enough information for assessors to understand your practice, activities, and goals so be thoughtful, clear, and specific.

Briefly describe your (or your collective’s) artistic practice in terms of what you do and why it’s important to you.

Your artist statement is really the first introduction to you and your artistic practice. It should demonstrate who you are, what kind of work you make, your processes for making it and why it is important to you.

Remember that context matters—the type of artist statement that you would submit to accompany a gallery show or as program notes is going to look a lot different than the type of statement that you should be submitting with grant applications. It should not be about this specific project or activity but rather about your overall practice and goals.

This is where you really have the opportunity to tell assessors what you value as an artist (or as a collective) and what is important to you. Remember that this introduction provides the most significant context for how they understand how your proposed activities relate to your practice. They will be looking at how the application aligns with what you’ve told us about your goals and values, and how it fits into your overall practice and ability to achieve your goals, develop and be more responsive to the challenges and opportunities in the time of COVID-19.

With that said, for this program your artist introduction shouldn’t be more than a 100-word overview. It isn’t a manifesto on your artistic practice, but a concise and helpful overview of what is most important about you and your work.

A resume or CV can be a helpful tool for assessors to view alongside the introduction to your artistic practice. It helps to give a better understanding of your artistic history, achievements, growth, and career.

Your artistic resume or CV should only include things that are relevant and related to your artistic practice and work.

It does not need to be in any particular format, but it should be clear and easy to read. Typically, a date list format from most recent to least recent activities, split into like categories is the most common. Make sure you include dates and locations of work.

If you are applying as a collective, include all of the members’ resumes in a single PDF along with the collective CV if you have one.

COVID-19 impact.

Briefly describe the impact COVID-19 has had on your artistic practice and development. This should be 100 words maximum.

We know every artist has experienced impact from this pandemic. This section isn’t to determine who needs funding the most, or who has been most affected. Need is not something we can or want to assess.

What this section should do is provide context around your experience and why and how your proposed activities will be beneficial to your practice and to adapting or responding, given these impacts.

Some examples of COVID impacts might be loss of income, loss of jobs (inside and outside the arts sector), cancellation of work, indefinite postponements of work, lost opportunities—networks, performances, development, deterioration of relationships, connection, and engagement.

Describe where you see the primary impact from COVID-19.

While many impacts may be negative, perhaps there are some positive impacts or opportunities that have presented themselves because of the pandemic. For example, “I realized I have a really strong following and audience behind me and I’ve seen an increase in engagement and desire to buy my work and support me, so because of this I need to better manage my online sales to keep up,” or “while I have lots a lot of contracts and work, the pause has allowed me to undertake some experimentation and activities that I simply never had time for.”

I think for many artists, COVID-19 has allowed us to take pause, re-evaluate, and many of us are being invited to reimagine futures or new approaches.

Description of activities.

Please describe your proposed activity including what will occur, when it will take place, where it will take place, and who will be involved. This should be 250 words maximum.

Be clear, straightforward, and specific here.

In this section it can be good to provide information about partners, training institutions, host organizations, mentors or collaborators, if any are involved in your proposed activities, and be specific about how or why you chose them.

Make a note of things that are confirmed or pending at the time of applying, wherever necessary. If something changes after you submit your application, please let us know immediately as we may be able to make updates to your application or let the assessors know, depending on where we are at in the assessment process.

Impact section.

Explain the rationale for your proposed activity and how it connects to your artistic practice and goals.

How will accomplishing this activity allow you to achieve your goals, develop, and be more responsive to the challenges and opportunities in the time of COVID-19? This section should be 400 words maximum.

By describing the goals and outcomes of your proposed activity, you can help the assessment committee understand why it is critical for you to undertake at this time.

Your job is to make a case and clearly outline what the funds will be used for, why it’s in alignment with your practice and how it will allow you to respond to new approaches and emergent needs, reduce barriers to opportunities, and contribute to skills, knowledge, and professional development in the current time.

Budgeting. In this program you will be asked to use our standard budget template and upload it to your application.

It is a pretty straightforward template that asks you to list out all your expenses and any project revenues (including the amount you are requesting from this grant program). As you enter dollar amounts into the template, it will automatically do the math for you. Be sure to account for the entire scope of the proposed activity.

Please remember to use the notes section to clarify line items, show calculations,

and specify whether other revenue or in-kind support is confirmed or pending. In-kind support refers to things that still have monetary value but are being donated or given to you for free (this could be rehearsal space, food, volunteer hours, etc.).

A common question we get regarding budgeting is: Should I apply for the maximum amount this program offers? Will I have a better chance if I apply for less?

We encourage applicants to apply for activities that fall within the general range of under $2,500 and budget for what they realistically need to complete the activity. Imagine how that activity would run ideally, and then build your budget off of that, rather than starting at the maximum and building backwards.

If you go over $2,500 then you might reconsider the scope of your proposed activities, look for where you can cut costs, or think about other funding to supplement your overall budget. Your best chances are to apply with the activity you’ve done the best planning for.

Which often leads to the next question of, what if my proposed activity costs more than $2,500?

If that is the case, you will have to show how you will fund the remaining expenses, either through fundraising, other grants or sponsorships, or your own personal money.

If you are applying for additional funding outside of this program but it won’t be confirmed before the deadline, do your best to demonstrate that you have done the proper planning. The assessment committee will be encouraged to make decisions based on the assumption that you have any additional expenses covered but having many pending revenues may impact the committee’s evaluation of timeliness and feasibility.

Support material. While support material is optional it is highly recommended.

The support material you provide should be relevant and meaningful to your application. Attach files or links that help demonstrate your capacity, research, planning, and the relationships and partnership you might mention. This can help demonstrate the feasibility and relevance of your proposed activity.

For example, if you’re applying for a specific course to learn technical skills and you want to provide samples of previous work to show areas you wish to progress in, that could be helpful. If you were applying for professional development to shift your practice across disciplines, and you’ve already experimented, you could show your most recent foray into this new field. If you’re looking to create or expand an online shop, link to the existing one or samples of what you might want it to look like or how you want it to function and why.

Other examples of support material might be biographies or CVs of mentors or collaborators, confirmation from mentors, collaborators, training institutions or host organizations, letters of support, documentation related to expenses, planning documents, course descriptions, etc.

Two optional upload fields are provided for support material (maximum of 3MB each). Remember, you can combine multiple documents into one document, so long as it is under 3MB.

Just remember that the assessment committee will only review up to five to 10 minutes of support material so direct their attention to the most important elements. For example, if it’s a long video, point out the section that is most important to view or if it’s a link to a website, be specific about which pages you want them to explore.

Audio or video files cannot be directly uploaded to the granting interface. They must be uploaded to a file sharing site such as YouTube, Vimeo or Dropbox with the link provided. If the link requires a password to view, please provide it.

Contact us early on if you require assistance.

Grant tips. Remember that you are not expected to be everything to everyone, and your application will not benefit from trying to write or represent yourself in a way that you think assessors might want to see.

Using plain language rather than academic or “artist speak” is often clearer and more concise. Avoid jargon or technical language, remembering that the assessment committee will be made up of people from many different practices and experiences.

Don’t assume that they will understand your specific practice or language. If you are speaking about something that is unique to your discipline or practice, be sure to define it. Assessors really appreciate being able to easily read and understand an application since they are reading so many.

It can be very tempting to paint a rosy picture of your practice and work but having an appreciative sense of what challenges and barriers you might experience in your work and how you might move through them actually demonstrates capacity, awareness, and potential.

Do your research! Make sure that you can back up what you are stating in your application.

It is also really helpful to have someone who may not be familiar with your discipline or your work read your application. The questions they ask may uncover gaps or assumptions you are making in the story you are telling.

We talk a lot at CADA about how grant writing is an act of storytelling. This again does not mean that the application should be an artistic expression or demonstration of your fantastical writing skills, but that your goal is to paint a full and complete narrative of who you are, what you want to do, why it’s relevant, how it will impact your practice, and how you will feasibly achieve it. The assessors should be able to see a logical through line that connects all these pieces together to the overall goals of the program.

What about taxes? If you are an individual or representing a group of artists in the form of a collective, Calgary Arts Development is required to issue a T4A Form for the full amount that you receive from this program (or any other 2021 CADA grants) for the tax year in which funding is administered.

Under the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, only the amount of money that you pay yourself from the grant amount is taxable as income (such as an artist fee). While we know funding from this program is not going towards artists fees in most cases, it’s important to be aware of. In order to show the amounts of this grant that were spent on materials, rentals, paying other artists, etc. you must track all of your expenses, keep your receipts, and have written proof of payment to artists. If you have any questions about how to track your expenses, please let us know.

We are not legally able to provide tax advice and we cannot say how receipt of this grant will affect eligibility for future government support, similar to last year’s CERB. While we know it has been a challenging and confusing year for many artists we always advise and encourage talking to someone from Canada Revenue Agency or a tax professional as each person’s context differs and we want artists to be well informed.

Here is the contact info for this program again.

Please reach out early, ask specific questions, and remember, I cannot guarantee feedback if you do not reach out at least one week before the program deadline. I look forward to hearing from you and reading your applications.

Thank you for listening. Take care.

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