Project Grant Program – Individuals and Collectives

Grant Announcement Categories: Project Grant Program – Individuals and Collectives

Project Grant Program – Individuals and Collectives

Applying to the Project Grant Program for Individuals and Collectives? Calgary Arts Development is pleased to offer this online and on-demand information session.

This program is intended to provide one-time project funding to individual artists and artist collectives in Calgary (known as Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot) working in any artistic discipline who pursue a professional practice. This program is not open to arts administrators, cultural workers or registered non-profit or for-profit organizations.

The purpose of this session is to provide more context about the Project Grant Program, its specific goals and criteria. It will also provide some approaches, examples, and questions that might be helpful to consider when determining if you will apply and how best to do so.

We realize the ASL videos are too small in this recording, unfortunately our other recording with larger ASL screens had some issues where the interpreters were not always pinned and visible. If you speak ASL and would like access to the other recording, please reach out to We endeavor to continue improving our accessibility for future programs and information sessions and thank you for your patience.

Be sure to read the full guidelines and apply by 4:30pm MT on June 14, 2021.

Please note that Calgary Arts Development staff are continuing to work remotely.
Contact Taylor Poitras, Specialist for Individuals and Collectives, with questions about this program by emailing

Welcome to the online information session for the 2021 Project Grant Program for Individuals and Collectives.

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 Tsuut’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 Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, from across North America, that call Calgary, or Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot, home.

My name is Taylor Poitras. I use she/her pronouns, and I am the Specialist for Individual and Collective Programs at Calgary Arts Development (CADA). I’m the main contact person for this particular program, so you can reach out to me directly if you have any questions 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. So, the email address is a good go-to if you ever have questions or curiosities about CADA and 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, who is 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, and 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 your proposed project aligns to the program goals and criteria that 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 conversations that we’ve been having around equity, diversity, inclusion and access and anti-racism in the public sphere, and this work also ties into this concept of nothing about us without us.

There are things that 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 forward to assessment. Nothing about us without us is the belief that if you’re 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 honor lived experience and the intersectional and unique experiences of different people and communities.

The last one is 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. So, 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 viscous cycle, for you in your artistic practice, whereby you can create and 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 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’re learning on our journey at CADA is that you can’t 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 it’s an ongoing process for us, as we continue to 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 systemic 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 technological, linguistic, communication and cultural barriers, just 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, so 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. We also offer language interpretation for phone or video meetings and grant writing assistance if you need help.

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

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

You might 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, contact the ‘grants@’ email address at least two to four weeks before you plan to submit your application, which would mean no later than June 1st, 2021 for this particular program. If this date has passed and you still need assistance, reach out anyway and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

If you do request application assistance, you’ll need to provide the name and contact information of someone who can help you, and this could be a trusted family member or friend, or a professional service provider. We may be able to make recommendations depending on the service that you’re requesting. You will also need to include the amount you are requesting and the service provider’s hourly rate.

Depending on the type of service or assistance you’re requesting CADA has outlined the maximum amounts that we are currently able to provide toward each of our granting programs. The maximum allowable amount for the Project Grant Program ranges from $160 to $600, depending on the service.

If you’re approved, we’ll confirm the amount that we are able to contribute, and the service provider will send us an invoice for us to process that payment and send it directly to them, so the applicant doesn’t have to deal with managing that.

Alright, now let’s dive into the Project Grant Program.

The purpose of this session is to provide more context around the purpose, eligibility, and criteria of this program, 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.

The full program guidelines and the Investment Program FAQs (frequently asked questions) have a lot more detail in them than this information session does. It will be important to review those before you apply as well and I will probably repeat that. Read the FAQs even if you don’t think you have any questions. I’ve packed them full of what I believe is very helpful information.

The Project Grant Program is intended to provide one-time project-based funding to support artistic projects that contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of the city’s arts sector. We believe that artists living and working in the city of Calgary, or Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot, is a fundamental public good.

While activities don’t have to take place in Calgary, applicants must be Calgary-based. So, if you are not based in Calgary, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with the city and its artistic communities and that most of your work is accessible to the citizens of Calgary. We acknowledge that there are many artists who are new or returning to the city of Calgary or may still be developing relationships, connections, and opportunities and that is okay.

So, if you are a newcomer, immigrant or re-emerging Calgary artist and have questions or concerns about eligibility or navigating the grant process, please know that our program staff are available to help guide and support you.

This program accepts applications from individual artists and artist collectives working in any artistic discipline and their various cultural forms, including but not limited to circus arts, craft arts, community and social practice, curation, dance, Deaf/deaf arts, digital arts, disability arts, film, Indigenous arts, literature, Mad arts, media arts, multidisciplinary practice, music and sound, performance, theatre, and visual arts—and the list goes on.

We do not have standard definitions for emerging, mid-career or established artist. These definitions can be completely different based on artistic discipline, type of practice, and individual experiences. Our programs are open to any artist at any stage of their artistic career so long as they pursue a professional practice.

We consider a professional artist to be an artist who is actively pursuing a career in the arts, and who has invested in the development of their artistic skills, voice, and goals. Professional artists may have had formal training, they may have shared their work publicly or been compensated for their work, and they have a relationship with their artistic communities and peers. With this said, we recognize that barriers within the arts community exist, particularly for equity seeking communities, and that there are many unique entry points into an artistic practice and a career in the arts. If you’re unsure, please reach out to discuss eligibility before applying.

We consider an artist collective to be two or more individual artists who work together in an ad hoc, casual or informal way, who have equal and shared ownership and accountability for the success and the completion of the proposed project. Some collectives may make work together on a regular basis and they share a common goal or vision around the work they create as a collective. In order for a collective to be eligible, a majority of the collective members must be Calgary-based artists. An artist collective does not include for-profit organizations, businesses or groups that are formally registered as a non-profit society or groups which intend to govern themselves like a non-profit.

The total pool of funding available through this program this year is $1.1 million.

Individual artists can apply for up to $15,000 to put towards their project, while collectives may apply for up to $20,000.

This is the first year we’ve increased the possible request amount for artist collectives. This is because we understand that some people only access their practice in a collective way and in recognition of the fact that more lead artists on a project, or involved in a collective project, comes with increased expenses, particularly artist fees for each core member.

Applicants may submit only one application per program deadline.

If you are applying as a collective, and you wish to also apply for a different project as an individual, you must demonstrate and articulate a distinct difference between the two practices. If an artist collective can’t demonstrate previous work or an ongoing history of making work together as a collective, then you’ll want to speak to how you came together and what your intention is for developing a shared artistic practice. You’ll want to share your collective’s vision, goals, approach, and processes, to demonstrate that there is shared accountability and ownership over the work. In other words, there must be a clear artistic mandate and collective approach, that is unique and distinct from your own individual practice.

You cannot put in two applications from your own individual account, so collectives must apply through their own separate account, especially if any individuals are also applying for their own projects outside of the collective.

If you intend to be a part of more than one application, I highly recommend reaching out for a chat first just to ensure eligibility and clarity.

A project may only be submitted by one applicant per program deadline. For example, if a project is being undertaken by a group of artists, or in partnership with another organization, only one application can be submitted for that project. So, multiple members of the group can’t submit for the same project to the same program deadline.

Projects, or distinct phases of a larger project, may only receive one grant in total from Calgary Arts Development, regardless of calendar year. So, an example of this might be if you received a grant last year from CADA to do the pre-production and production phase of a project and now you’d like to apply for the post-production phase which might include marketing, outreach, distribution, or other costs associated with presenting and sharing the work, that would be okay because it’s a different phase.

There is no limit to the number of applications you may submit per calendar year, as long as you are eligible for the program, and the project has not already been funded by CADA. You may also reapply for the same project if a previous application was unsuccessful.

Alright, here is a quick overview of the program timeline.

Applications are being accepted up until the application deadline of Monday, June 14, 2021, at 4:30pm MT.

We are expecting many applications to the program. Late submissions will not be accepted so make sure to review the Deadline Extension Policy for information about extensions.

Please submit your application as early as possible, as this will allow more time to review your application in advance of the committee and it might allow me to do any necessary or helpful follow-ups if your application is missing something or requires more clarity.

All applications to the program will be peer assessed, meaning they will be reviewed and scored based on the program criteria, by a committee of artistic peers and community members from a variety of disciplines, identities and backgrounds.

Peer assessment committees help ensure that CADA is fairly and responsibly distributing public dollars to artists and organizations on behalf of the citizens of Calgary. The assessment committees for our programs have the same guidelines and criteria as you do to work from—there’s no hidden criteria!

Assessors are kept confidential and anonymous until next year, when a full list of assessors is posted as part of our annual report. If a committee member has applied to the program, they will not assess their own application, or any applications where there is a conflict of interest.

We are paying assessors a wage for doing this work. 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.

We have posted the full assessment committee Terms of Reference on our website with the guidelines, and I would encourage you to read those through in full to understand the responsibilities and expectations that assessors are asked to commit to.

Notifications for this program will go out via email in late August, letting applicants know if they were successful or not and confirming grant amounts.

I always recommend adding the ‘grants@’ email address, as well as my own, to your email address book just to ensure that any emails from us aren’t ending up in your spam or junk folder by mistake.

Successful applicants will also receive an investment agreement outlining the terms of the grant which they’ll need to review, sign and return. And then funds will be released via direct deposit beginning in September 2021, as signed agreements are received. This processing time can take a few weeks. So, this is important to consider if your project is fully reliant on receiving this grant. If cashflow is a concern for you, consider applying for something that occurs after September, because we can’t guarantee that funds will be distributed any earlier than that.

Activities funded through this program must be complete by the end of December 2022.

Please keep in mind that we are unable to fund fully retroactive projects, which means that your project can already be underway before you submit your application or before you receive the results, but you can’t apply for a project that will be fully complete before the program deadline of June 14, 2021.

If anything regarding this program timeline must shift, you’ll be notified as soon as possible

So next slide, what can you apply for?

I’ll reiterate here that the goal of this program is to support artists and artistic projects that contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of Calgary’s arts sector.

In this program, a project is something with a specific outcome, a specific set of goals, and a distinct beginning and end date. This could include a distinct phase of an overall larger project.

Projects might include the creation, research, development or production of work. Projects might include the presentation, dissemination, curation or sharing of artistic work. Projects might include professional development opportunities, such as residencies, workshops, courses, conferences, training, or mentorship. Or projects might include career development activities related to your artistic practice, such as marketing, promotion, web development, documentation, e-commerce, small business development, etc. Your project might actually include a number of these different activities.

You can apply for almost any expense related to the project. There is a full list of eligible expenses in the program guidelines that are all relatively straightforward and include things such as artists fees, subsistence, materials, rentals, course fees, marketing, etc.

If you have any questions about eligible expenses or whether or not your project is a good fit for this program, please reach out, and we can talk about your proposal more specifically.

Alight so since it’s a shorter list, I’ll take a moment to go over some of the ineligible expenses.

First is lost wages or salaries, meaning we cannot directly cover lost income from losing your job or taking time off your day job or other work in order to undertake your proposed project.

Tuition, or other costs related to post-secondary or credit, degree, or diploma granting educational programs or any artistic work related to those educational programs. 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 that or making work related to your degree, then we can’t cover any costs associated.

We can’t cover the purchase of any equipment that is not directly related to the project, or the purchase of or financial contribution towards equipment, land, or buildings over a total of $1,000.

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

Major purchases of equipment, land or buildings are considered capital expenses because they outlast the duration of the project and they become an asset, unlike materials or supplies which are used up during the project. Some examples of capital equipment might be the purchase of a new laptop, a kiln, a camera, lighting equipment, or an instrument. So, while there is no limit on rental costs for equipment, you may only invest up to $1,000 of this grant towards the purchase of these items and if you exceed this amount in your budget, you must show how the remainder will be covered.

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.

If you do make a request for the purchase of equipment, you’ll want to demonstrate a strong and clear case for that purchase. For example, explain why you need this particular equipment and how it will impact your proposed project, or your artistic development or your practice. It will be important to make a case for why you should own the equipment versus renting it for the duration of the project. You might consider what the cost difference is between renting and purchasing, what the current availability for rentals is, the length of time you require it for and how purchasing might actually have long term benefit and impact for creating future opportunities… things like this.

When you apply, you’ll need to select a program stream. So, you can apply to either the Create & Develop Stream, or the Program & Present stream.

When choosing a stream consider if your project will result in something that will be shared with an audience or the general public as part of the project timeline and goals for this grant application. If so, the Program & Present stream would likely be the best choice.

Projects in this stream may still have aspects of creation or research, development, or experimentation, but they are more externally focused and involve sharing your work with the public, raising awareness of your artistic work, or they actually involve the creation and production of work all the way through to presenting it to an audience. Some examples of Program & Present projects could be curation, presentation, publication, exhibition, programming, touring, marketing or dissemination.

If your project won’t result in something that will be shared with an audience or the general public as part of this part of your timeline and goals for this application, then the Create & Develop stream might be the best choice. It may eventually be shared publicly, but it’s not part of the project timeline and goals for this application. Projects in this stream might include some aspect of engagement with individuals or communities as part of the creation or development process, but the focus of your application at this time is really more internally focused on your artistic practice, like developing new skills or techniques, doing research, artistic development or creation, or career development activities.

The intention of streaming: why do we stream?

The intention is to help manage volume by grouping projects that are more similar than not, together in assessment and to have criteria that align to that specific stream.

If you are having difficulty selecting a stream, reach out. If you apply to a stream and I review your application and I feel it might be a better fit for the other stream, I’ll contact you to discuss this, but the final decision will always lie with each applicant.

All projects, regardless of stream will be evaluated and funded based on the three criteria of artistic impact, community connection, and planning. Both streams will require you to talk about these three criteria, however there are a few small differences between the two streams.

In the Create & Develop stream, artistic impact is weighted slightly higher than community connection and planning, which are both weighted equally. The reason for this is because these projects are typically more internally focused on artistic process and impact and less focused on public impact or engagement.

In the Program & Present stream, both artistic impact and community connection are weighted equally, and they are weighted slightly higher than planning. The community connection criteria statements themselves are also worded a little bit differently and the reason for this is being these projects involve sharing your work publicly.

So, let’s dig into the criteria statements for each of the three criteria in order to get a better sense of what they each mean.

Alright, so the artistic impact criteria is the same for both streams, so I’ll go through those one at a time.

The applicant has demonstrated a deep understanding of their artistic practice and the role they play in their artistic communities or disciplines.

The proposed project and applicant’s goals are clearly described and align with their artistic practice.

The applicant has demonstrated clear reasons why this project is compelling and relevant and how it will allow them to advance their goals, discipline, or practice.

So, how the assessors understand what artistic impact means and how you are meeting this criterion, is based on what you tell us about what is important to you and your practice, what your goals are, and how this project will allow you to achieve them.

Before you even begin writing, you’ll want to take the time to come to a clear understanding for yourself of what you believe constitutes quality of your artistic work within the context of the project that you’re proposing. Who is your artistic community for the project and how you will undertake your artistic process?

If the goal of the project is to focus on the artistic output, then tell us what artistic success means to you. If the goal of the project is to focus on community engagement, tell us what good community engagement means to you.

Artistic quality will always be subjective, so it’s important to guide the assessors in understanding how you consider things like quality, success or relevance in your own work.

Ensure that you’ve provided enough information and context for the assessors to draw these connections. 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 or make assumptions.

You should be able to be honest and show an awareness of where you are at in your practice and career, and how you fit into your artistic communities or disciplines, and what growth and success mean for you. Being able to recognize the challenges or barriers that you might face as an artist can demonstrate potential, thoughtfulness and intentionality about the way that you’re undertaking your work, and it actually creates an opportunity to see how an investment in your practice might actually leverage you into finding solutions to those challenges and barriers.

It’s tempting to only paint a rosy picture to funders in a grant application and we understand that but demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to think and reflect on how you undertake your work or challenge your own assumptions shows the committee how you are actually well set up to steward a public investment in an effective way.

There will be a specific section in the application where you’ll talk directly about artistic impact, but keep in mind the assessors will be considering your application holistically, meaning there may be other parts of your application that speak to artistic impact more indirectly.

The second criteria, which in past years was called public impact is now described as community connection.

So, these are the statements for the Create & Develop stream specifically:

The applicant has clearly demonstrated who they connect with through their artistic practice. This could include artists, collaborators, partners, mentors, participants, or future audiences. If the project will result in artistic work that might eventually be shared with the public, then the applicant has identified who the community will be for that work.

The applicant has clearly demonstrated how this project will further their ability to connect with their communities. If the project will result in artistic work that may eventually be shared with the public, the applicant has demonstrated why this project is important to their communities and how they are considering them at this phase of the work.

While we know that many artistic practices or projects may not necessarily put a primary focus on community engagement or connection, we want to open a conversation for every applicant to say what community means to them, and how they think about how their art contributes to that community.

It’s important to reflect on who your communities are, or who you would like them to be, how you might either connect with them or consider them during this project and reflect on why your project is important to those you’ve identified, even if they won’t be experiencing it now, or if it will have less direct impact on your ability to connect through your practice in the future.

Similarly to artistic impact, there’s a section in the application where you will speak specifically to this criterion but there may be other elements of your application that help to paint a fulsome picture of the potential community impact of your project.

The community connection statements for the Program & Present stream are very similar but they’re worded slightly different and there is an extra one, because we put a little more emphasis on this one.

The applicant has clearly demonstrated who they will connect with through this project. Again, this could include artists, collaborators, partners, mentors, participants, or audiences that are part of their overall artistic practice, or those who will be directly experiencing this work.

The applicant has clearly demonstrated how they will connect with the communities they’ve identified through the project, or how the project will allow them to connect with their communities in the future.

The applicant has clearly demonstrated why this project is important to the communities they’ve identified and how they are considering them.

As you can see its very similar to the other stream, but it uses a more active, present tense and it directly refers to connections through the project since there’s actually going to be aspects of public presentation or sharing in this stream. There are also three criteria statements instead of two, because it’s weighted slightly higher in this stream.

Basically, everything I said on the last slide still applies. So, defining your communities will allow you to better understand what it means to have an impactful relationship with them.

The last criterion is planning and it’s the same for both streams.

The applicant has a clear understanding of what is required to complete the project. This is demonstrated by a clear, well-researched and achievable timeline, plan and budget that outlines who they will work with, what it will cost, how much time it will take, and what tasks and activities are required.

The applicant has demonstrated and created overwhelming trust and confidence that the project will be completed as described and the applicant will reach their goals.

In this last criterion of planning, the primary elements of your application that will relate to this are your project description, your budget, and your timeline—but again always think of your application holistically. Keep all these criteria in your mind throughout the entire process of writing.

I’ll also make a special note here about COVID-19 and the uncertain circumstances we continue to find ourselves in.

If your proposed project involves any aspect of public gathering in-person or presentation, we strongly recommend that you consider how feasible this truly is, and if your project could be impacted if various government restrictions and recommendations continue. For example, social distancing, caps on group sizes, gatherings, and performances both indoor and outdoor, availability of venues, travel restrictions, and potential audience willingness to partake in live or in-person events. These are the kinds of things you want to consider.

We understand that it will be really difficult to plan projects with any certainty, but it’s important to be realistic about what is reasonable, feasible, and foreseeable in the coming year or year and a half. Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned and witnessed over the past year and about the current circumstances when deciding what project you will apply with, when it might occur, who will be involved and how it will be realized.

Share how you are considering these realities and risks in your project plan and include any necessary contingency plans, or safety measures and considerations. Demonstrating thoughtfulness and foresight will help build trust and confidence in the assessors who are reviewing your application.

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

Call us if you’re unsure or have questions about your specific circumstances and visit our information about COVID-19 page and stay up to date on the latest news, government regulations, and measures from reliable public health authorities.

And I’ll add a note here. This is from the FAQ: What if I receive this grant, but then I am not able to complete my project?

We understand that sometimes things shift in your timeline or circumstances, and your project or activities might not be able to be completed as outlined in your application. If you are still going to be able to complete part of your project or activities, and some things have just been shifted or adjusted, or it might take longer than expected, we’re generally able to extend your reporting deadline to reflect the new timeline. If the shift or change to your project is so significant that it no longer reflects what was written in your grant application, you may be asked to return either a portion of, or the entire grant investment. If you’re no longer able to complete your project in any form, you will be asked to return your grant investment.

Please contact your program specialist, me in this case, as soon as possible to discuss any changes. We endeavour to be as flexible and understanding as possible and can only be of assistance if you reach out in advance.

If you do not notify us of any changes to your circumstances and don’t complete your project, then your reporting will probably reflect that, and you won’t necessarily be considered to be in good standing and that might affect your ability to apply to future grant programs, until it’s resolved. So that’s just kind of a note to make sure that we’re submitting for projects that have the most likelihood of being able to occur and we’ve done good planning for them.

In this program we will be able to fund a minimum, if I did my math right, of 55 to 73 applicants. It’s kind of a bigger range because folks can apply for either up to $15,000 or up to $20,000 so it will depend on the level of requests that we’re getting from each applicant, but the minimum would be 55 to 73. This is kind of the nature of most granting programs, and the challenge that we have for our assessment committees, is that competition; we always receive more applications than we are able to fund.

Over the past two years we have been adjusting our scoring processes to make it more clear what you are being evaluated on and how you might achieve a higher rated application. We have also been adjusting our scoring processes and tools to suit each specific program.

In this program, assessors will evaluate applications by rating each criteria statement (which we just reviewed) as either exceptional, good, or weak based on the information you provide in your application.

We’ve chosen to use descriptions this year rather than numbers or numerical scales in an attempt to tie assessor evaluations even more directly to the criteria of the program, which we believe should help to prioritize investments.

What makes an exceptional application?

Exceptional applications demonstrate a deep understanding of their practice and goals, their role and relationship to communities and what is required to undertake the proposed project. Exceptional applications have clear, detailed, thoughtful responses that directly address the criteria of the program. Exceptional applications include all the relevant information and support required to create overwhelming trust and confidence that the project will be completed, and that the applicant will reach their goals. There’s a clear sense of readiness and critical awareness within the application.

What makes a good application?

Good applications demonstrate a general understanding of their practice and goals, their relationship to communities and what is required to undertake the proposed project. Good applications have sufficient responses that address the criteria of the program, but they may be lacking detail or rationale. Good applications include most of the relevant information required to create trust that the project will be completed, and that the applicant will reach their goals. There may be some information, support or evidence missing that would have created more confidence.

What makes a weak application?

Weak applications do not demonstrate a clear understanding of their practice and goals, their relationship to communities or what is required to undertake the proposed project. Weak applications have limited or insufficient responses that do not sufficiently address the criteria of the program. Weak applications do not provide enough information, support or evidence to create trust and confidence that the project will be completed as described and that the applicant will reach their goals. There is a lack of readiness or critical awareness present in the application and the applicant would benefit from feedback.

You’ll notice that the scoring matrix intends to help you navigate how to approach your application and how assessors are going to be navigating personal bias around things like taste, aesthetic and processes and focus on scoring according to how well the artist understands themselves, their communities, and their proposed project.

You’re being asked to make a case, so an exceptional score isn’t that the art is exceptional itself. It’s actually that you’ve made a clear and compelling case for why this investment is going to impact you and how it’s going to help you achieve your goals, and you’ve shown that you have a clear understanding of your communities and your discipline and what’s required to undertake this project—all the things that basically create trust and confidence.

In contrast to that, in a weak application, it doesn’t matter how great the art or the project idea is, if you haven’t answered the questions thoughtfully and thoroughly and demonstrated that you have a critical awareness and plans in place.

Here are two examples that may help you understand how assessors will be encouraged to evaluate using this matrix.

Say ‘Artist A’ creates work or programming that you don’t personally enjoy, but they have clearly articulated why it’s important to them and their communities. They clearly understand their artistic vision and who their communities are, and they approach their planning and research responsibly. They are more likely to end up with an exceptional score.

In contrast to that, say ‘Artist B’ creates programming and work that you love, but they have not answered the application questions sufficiently, they haven’t demonstrated an awareness of their role in community or the relationships and planning that are needed to support their project. They might be more likely to end up with a weaker score.

Using the approach of one size fits one, what is relevant, important, and reflective of each artist given what they’ve shared with you in their application about their goals and in their particular context—that is what assessors will be looking at.

The assessment process. There will be one to two assessment committees assigned to each program stream depending on the volume of applications received. Each committee will consist of seven members.

The assessment committees will read and score applications online between mid-June to mid-August, and then meet to discuss all applications together as a committee, and adjust their evaluations as needed and make final funding recommendations.

The program specialist, myself, is responsible for facilitating these discussions and ensuring that the conversations are fair and appreciative, and that assessors are acting within the Group Agreements that I shared earlier, as well as the process outlined in our Terms of Reference.

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

Applicants that self-identify on our voluntary demographic survey, which is included in the grant application, as belonging to these equity priority groups are automatically considered for this equity measure. The specific information provided in the voluntary demographic survey will not be shared with assessors and will only be viewable by program staff, aka me. The program specialist will only share with assessors if an applicant belongs to an equity priority group or not in tie-breaking scenarios but will not disclose any details.

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

For details on each of these equity priority groups, please refer to the Equity Priority Group Descriptions on our website and I’ll include a link if I send this out to everyone.

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

Calgary Arts Development acknowledges that there are many barriers to access and full participation in our society, sector and in 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’ve identified these equity priority groups and adopted this specific equity measure.

These priorities and descriptions were actually adapted from the Toronto Arts Council’s Equity Framework and we are very 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.

Next 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, your project name, a 25-word or less description of your project, the stream that you’re applying to, the amount you are requesting, the start and end date of your project, your artistic disciplines, and the number of years you’ve been a practicing artist. You’ll also upload your current artistic resume or CV and I’ll talk about those in a moment in greater detail.

The introduction to artistic practice, project description, artistic impact, and community connection sections—those are the four written parts of the application which I will speak about in a moment.

You’ll upload a project timeline as well as a project budget using our standard budget template which is available for download directly within the application. There’s also an area to upload support materials.

I’ll take a moment to talk about the voluntary demographic survey which as I said will be available directly in 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 that are 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, and you can always 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 staff only in the event of tie-breaker scenarios, as I mentioned before.

In short, your responses to these questions are voluntary, 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 form and this should be considered the maximum, not the goal. If you don’t need to use up the word count entirely to make your case, don’t feel compelled to fill up space. However, it is important to provide enough information for assessors to understand your practice, project and goals so be thoughtful, clear and specific where you can be. I cannot emphasize enough how much committees love a straightforward application that they don’t have to work hard to understand or connect the dots.

Alright so we’ll dig in a little bit.

The introduction to artistic practice.

This is about 100 to 250 words, or 1,000 to 2,500 characters in the grant portal.

This is where you’ll briefly describe your, or your collective’s, artistic practice in terms of the work that you make, your process and what is important to you.

So, this is kind of like an artist statement and it’s really the first introduction to you and your artistic practice. It should demonstrate who you are, what kind of work you make, your process 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 your grant application. It should not be about this specific project but rather about your overall artistic 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 your proposed project and how it relates to your practice. They’ll 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.

This is not a manifesto of 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 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 specific format. There are many formats for resumes and CVs, and some are discipline-specific. For the purposes of this program, simplicity and readability are most important—more important than fancy formatting. Be sure to include important information such as dates, locations, and a very brief description of each experience, if it isn’t already apparent in the title.

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

The project description.

This will be about 150 to 450 words.

Describe your project including what will occur, when it will take place, where it will take place and who will be involved.

So, kind of the nuts and bolts of your project. Be very clear, straightforward, and specific here.

When it comes to this section you may want to include some information or rationale for how you came to decide the who, what, when and where of your project. For example, how you came to select a particular platform or venue to share your work, why the dates you’ve chosen are the most feasible, or why you’ve chosen to work with specific collaborators.

This should be a helpful, relatively detailed description of the project but keep in mind you’ll have a chance to dig deeper into the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ in the following sections.

These are the specific question you’ll be asked for the artistic impact section.

Describe your artistic goals for this project and why they’re important and relevant to your artistic practice or discipline. This could include goals related to growth, outcomes, processes, learning, relationships, skills, development, etc.

Describe what artistic success will look like for you in this project and why. This could include both quantitative or qualitative measures.

How do you measure success, learning or impact? What is helpful and meaningful for you to capture?

Granters and funders don’t just ask you to talk about how you will evaluate your work to ‘tick a box’. This is not about saying what you think we want to hear, but about defining what success actually means to you. For, example, we don’t track numbers for the sake of numbers. We track them because they help show scale of impact. Think about what your artistic goals are and how you will know if you’ve achieved them.

It’s good to start thinking about this now. Developing your own systems of evaluation can be highly beneficial to your own growth, your development and the impact it has on your practice.

Plus, we use the stories and feedback that you provide us in your final reports to report back to The City, and to continue to develop a case for investment in the arts, and to evaluate our programs internally.

These are the specific question you’ll be asked for the community connection section, and this is for the Create & Develop stream only.

Describe who you connect with through your artistic practice. This could include artists, collaborators, partners, mentors, participants, or audiences. If your project will result in work that may eventually be shared publicly, describe the communities that the work is intended for.

Describe how this project will further your ability to connect with your communities. If the project will result in work that may eventually be shared publicly, describe why the project is important to those communities and how you’re considering them at this phase of the work.

So, you’ll see they are basically identical to the criteria that we went over earlier. We want to really ask you questions that are directly related to what you’re being scored on.

This section is also 150 to 450 words.

Similarly, for the Program & Present stream, your community connection questions are:

Describe who you will connect with through this project. Your communities might also be geographical, cultural, academic, or artistic discipline specific.

Describe how you will connect with the communities you’ve identified through the project, or how the project will allow you to connect with your communities in the future.

Describe why this project is important to the communities you’ve identified and how you’re considering them.

Again, 150 to 450 words.

We talked a lot about these criteria earlier, but I’ll add a few other notes.

The depth and quality of your relationships is just as important, if not more important, than the breadth or quantity of your relationships. We do not expect you to be everything to everyone. What we are interested in is knowing who you make and share your work with and for, what those relationships are and why they’re important to you and those communities.

If your proposed project intends to make work about, with or for a specific community, it will be important to speak to your relationships and connections to that specific community. For example, do you have personal lived experience, are you including and valuing those perspectives in a meaningful way, how are you engaging that community, are they being compensated?

Like artistic impact, evaluating the success of your community connection or impact goals must be meaningful. While quantity and numbers can tell a meaningful story, you might also be interested in qualitive measures like audience response, feedback you received from a workshop, the way you felt experimenting with a new form of engagement or sharing—just as some examples.

Your project timeline or work plan should tell us how you will accomplish your project.

Your timeline/work plan should include all important artistic and community-related activities, tasks, events, milestones, or deadlines. It should include dates, locations, who is involved and a description of each item if it isn’t already apparent.

Please make note of things that are confirmed or pending wherever necessary. If something changes after you submit, please let us know immediately as we may be able to make updates to your application or let the assessment committee know depending on where we are at in the assessment process. For example, if you were waiting for a confirmation letter to partake in an online residency and you receive that letter after the fact, let us know because we can update it.

There is no standard template for your timeline. You can create and upload this document in any format. Depending on your project, it might make sense to use a calendar format or a dated list (these are the things I need to do each month or each week, for example), or you might use some sort of flow lane chart or diagram. The most important thing again is that it’s clear, intuitive, and easy on the eyes. We do not recommend using complex color-coded timelines that require a legend to understand.

This may be an area where you’re speaking to any necessary COVID related considerations, contingencies, or safety measures.

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

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

Please remember to use the notes section to clarify line items, show your calculations or your estimations or provide descriptions. Assessors often wish budgets had more clarity and detail provided in the notes. For example, indicate if something is purchased or rented, if you’re outlining fees for different artists or hires, include their names, roles and a breakdown of their fee, indicate if something is a flat rate, an hourly or weekly rate, a quote or if it’s based on a standard fee schedule such as CARFAC.

Be sure to 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. So, this might be a rehearsal space, food, volunteer hours, etc. You should still reflect these in your revenue section and indicate the monetary value so that it balances off that related expense.

Some common questions we get: Should I apply for the maximum grant amount available? Will I have a better chance if I apply for less?

Usually, your planning will not be as strong if you start at the maximum request amount and work backwards. Instead, we encourage applicants to first think about a project that will fall within the general range of the grant and imagine how the project would run ideally, and then build your budget off that.

If your project expenses go over the maximum request amount available, then you can reconsider the scope of your project, or 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 project you’ve done the best planning for.

It is not necessarily helpful to ask for more than what you need and hope to get less. If your project can be scaled, make sure to explicitly state where you could cut expenses or provide an alternate budget. Assessors won’t be able to guess.

They also cannot recommend an amount higher than what you requested, so we also don’t suggest asking for less than what you need, as that might not show the greatest potential for impact. In most cases, we encourage the assessment committees to recommend full funding requests, unless they see a major concern.

Another question we get: What if my project costs more than the maximum grant amount available?

In this 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. It is okay if you are applying for additional funding outside of this program, but it won’t be confirmed before the deadline. If you do as much as you can to show that you’ve done the proper planning, the assessment committee will be asked to make decisions based on the assumption that you have any additional expenses covered.

If you have any questions about calculating or requesting artist fees verses subsistence, please check out my lengthy description in the program FAQ’s or contact me directly.

Please note, eligible project expenses for this program such as artist fees and subsistence may not be considered deductible project expenses by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). So, please consult the CRA guidelines when creating your project budget and take this into consideration. For more information about taxes, please review the Investment Program FAQs as well.

Support material.

There will be four optional upload fields provided in your application for applicants to include additional files or links that strengthen your case, or help assessors understand more about your project or practice.

While support material is optional it is highly recommended. The support material you provide should be relevant and meaningful to your application.

You might consider including things that demonstrate the quality of your artistic work, such as samples of your work, documentation of previous projects, information about your artistic process, or background on your specific artistic discipline.

You might include something to demonstrate your capacity to undertake the work, such as examples of previous work or projects, planning documents, support letters, mock-ups, or drafts for the project.

You might include documentation or information that demonstrates your research and planning around the project such as quotes, invoices, contracts, or more detailed planning documents.

Or you might include things that demonstrate the partnerships or relationships you have related to your proposed project, whether it be the CVs or bios of your collaborators, a letter of support from someone involved in the project, confirmations or correspondence that shows a commitment or planning for the project.

Whatever you choose to include, make sure that it elevates your proposal. A boilerplate letter of recommendation from a past professor or artistic director isn’t likely to demonstrate the potential impact of this project.

Each of the four upload fields has room for 3MB so please feel free to combine multiple documents into one.

I should also mention that audio or video files can’t be uploaded directly into the application, as our grant interface doesn’t actually allow for this. So instead, they have to be uploaded to a file sharing site such as YouTube, Vimeo or Dropbox with the web link provided. If the link requires a password to access, please provide that as well.

We recommend including a brief description of what you have shared in each upload area to make it obvious and clear to the assessors why you’ve included it.

Lastly, please be considerate of the assessment committee’s time. They’ll be reading many applications so be respectful of how much additional information you include in the support area. You can direct their attention to the most important elements of what you’re sharing. For example, if you’re a script writer and you want to include a sample of your script, maybe don’t include the entire thing. Include an important excerpt. If you’re showing a video and its more than five minutes long, direct them to the most important time stamp on the video, for example two minutes in for two minutes to watch. If you’re sharing your website, direct them to a specific area or page of your website that you want them to focus on.

In the past we’ve asked assessors to view up to ten minutes of support material and they weren’t required to read more than that so you can still use that as a general recommendation. I would also recommend putting the most important materials in support material upload area number one, and then subsequently going down to two, three and four since they will likely read them in sequential order.

Reach out early if you need any assistance combining, resizing, or uploading documents.

Remember that you are not expected to be everything to everyone, and your application won’t 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 disciplines, practices and backgrounds.

Don’t assume that they will understand your specific practice or language. If you are speaking about something that is unique to your discipline, 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, like I said, to paint a rosy picture of your practice and project but having an appreciative sense of what challenges and barriers you might experience in your work and how you might move through those 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 helpful to have someone who may not be familiar with your discipline or your work read through your application. The questions that 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 in and of itself, or that it should demonstrate 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, how, why its relevant, and how it will impact your practice and communities. 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? Do I need to pay taxes on grants that I receive from CADA?

If you are an individual, or receiving a grant on behalf of a collective of artists, and you receive more than $500 from Calgary Arts Development in a single calendar year, then CADA is required to issue a T4A Form for the full amount that you received in that year. According to the Canada Revenue Agency’s guidelines, artist grants are entered in Line 105 of the T4A tax slip.

When filing your taxes, you may deduct all your reasonable grant expenses related to the production of your project from the total grant amount. This does not include your own artist fee, which is taxable income—that could include subsistence as well. Yes, other expenses, such as subsistence or living expenses related to your primary residence, and expenses which can be reimbursed, cannot be deducted.

Calgary Arts Development does not offer tax advice, so we recommend that you consult a tax professional or accountant when planning your grant applications and preparing your taxes each year.

How do you prove expenses?

It is your responsibility to document all expenses related to your project in order to claim them against your grant amount. So, keep all your receipts, invoices, and correspondence for these expenses. If you’re paying other artists, ensure that you have written documentation of the agreed upon amounts, and evidence that the payment was made.

There’s also more tax related resources and information available in our frequently asked questions and feel free to reach out if you have any other questions for us and we will do our best to respond.

Here is the contact info for this program again.

Please don’t be shy and reach out early and ask questions!

If you do request feedback from me, please remember to do so at least one week before the program deadline and again, please ask specific questions as much as possible so that I can really focus and direct my feedback on the areas or the parts of your application that you’re most concerned about.

Some examples: “Is my budget clear and broken down enough?”, “Have I included sufficient detail in my timeline given the scope of my project?”, “I’m worried my community connection section is limited. Do you have recommendations for other ways I might approach or expand on this?”, “Do the support materials I’ve included do a good job demonstrating my artistic aesthetic as well as my planning, or are there other things that might be helpful to consider?”, “Are there concerns around the in-person aspect of my application given the uncertainty of COVID? Have I included enough around those considerations and contingencies?”—those are just some examples.

Also keep in mind, that I am only one person with one perspective. Look to people you trust in your communities or to organizations in your discipline for feedback and resources as well.

Thank you so much for listening—this now concludes the formal part of my presentation. Thank you.

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