Project Grant Program – Organizations

Grant Announcement Categories: Project Grant Program – Organizations

Project Grant Program – Organizations

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

The program is intended to provide one-time project funding to registered non-profit arts organizations and current operating grant clients. Organizations must demonstrate that the arts are at the core of their mandate. Registered for-profit organizations and artistic projects by non-arts organizations will not be eligible for this funding.

The purpose of this session is to provide more context about the Project Grant Program, and 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.

Be sure to read the full guidelines and apply by 4:30pm MT on July 12, 2021.


Please note that Calgary Arts Development staff are continuing to work remotely. Contact Marta Ligocki, Specialist for Arts Organizations, at 403.264.5330 ext.205 or, with any questions.

Good afternoon everyone, welcome you to the online information session for the 2021 Project Grant Program for Organizations.

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 Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from across North America, that call Calgary, Mohkinsstsis home.

My name is Marta Ligocki. I use she/her pronouns and I am the specialist for arts organizations at Calgary Arts Development.

I am the main contact person for this program, so you may reach out to me directly if you have any questions or need support applying.

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

To centre this session, I would like start by speaking to our values at Calgary Arts Development. Beyond our mandate fand 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. This means they are often designed to fit the dominant culture while creating barriers for many others. Because of this, we aim to continue learning 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 organization’s unique context is our starting point for understanding the impact of it.

So, while it’s my job to be an expert in the programs we run, it’s your job to be an expert in your own organization; be authentic to your mandate, 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 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 Calgary Arts Development 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.

And, last but not least, 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. It s also not 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 operations, 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 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.

So, our working definition of equity is: 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 and organizations who are interested in applying. An example of this is that 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, to name a few. So, 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.

So, 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 can also offer language interpretation for phone or video meetings and grant writing assistance if you need help.

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 and ask specific questions to ensure that I’m able to provide the best support possible. I can provide application feedback up to one week before the application deadline.

We also want to recognize the limitations of our staff 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 for someone to help you complete an application if you are: An administrator who is Deaf, hard of hearing, has a disability or is living with a mental illness, or an administrator facing language, geographic or cultural barriers.

To request application assistance please contact at least two to four weeks before you plan to submit your application, which means no later than June 28, 2021, for this program. If this date has passed and you need assistance, please reach out anyway and we will do our best to accommodate your request! 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. We will also need to know 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 our granting programs. This maximum allowable amount for the Project Grant Program range from $160 and $800 depending on the service. If approved, we will confirm the amount Calgary Arts Development is able to contribute. The service provider must send an invoice to us for the approved amount, and then staff will then process the invoice and pay the service provider directly.

So, with all of that, we can now dive into the Project Grant Program.

The purpose of this session is to provide more context around the purpose, eligibility, and criteria of the Project Grant, as well as provide some approaches, examples and questions that might be helpful to consider when preparing your application. The full program guidelines and investment program FAQ contain much more detail and will be very important to review before you apply. I really encourage you to read the FAQs prior to applying, even if you don’t think you have any questions right now. It contains a lot of helpful information that will help you through the application.

The Project Grant Program is intended to provide one-time project-based funding to support registered non-profit arts organizations and current operating grant clients located in Calgary (known as Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot). Organizations must demonstrate that the arts are at the core of their mandate.

While activities do not have to take place in Calgary, applicants must be Calgary-based. If you are not based in Calgary, you must 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. This program accepts applications from organizations working in any artistic discipline and their various cultural forms.

If your organization is not a provincially registered non-profit, you may partner with another arts organization that is a registered non-profit. The partner organization you are working with must lead the application. The organization must also be arts-based, and you must clarify why this partnership is meaningful to both organizations. It is also important that it is clearly stated how the organizations will work together to achieve this project, and how responsibilities and tasks within the proposal are being shared. If you are unsure, please reach out to me to discuss eligibility before applying.

The total pool of funding will be $800,000. Calgary Arts Development is aiming to allocate 70% of this pool to organizations who are not currently Operating Grant clients. The target percentage may be adjusted based on the number of applications as well as assessor scores. Organizations may apply for up to $25,000.

An application may only be submitted by one applicant per program deadline. For example, if a project is being undertaken by your organization, or in partnership with another organization, only one application can be submitted for that project. Multiple organizations cannot submit for the same project to the same program deadline.

Projects (or distinct phases of a project) may only receive one grant in total from Calgary Arts Development, regardless of calendar year. An example of this might be if you received a grant last year from CADA’s Resiliency Fund to do the pre-production phase of a project, you could not apply to the Project Grant to continue the pre-production work of this activity. However, you could apply for the post-production phase which might include marketing, outreach, distribution, or other costs associated with presenting and sharing the work. 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 Calgary Arts Development. You may also reapply for the same project if a previous application was unsuccessful, regardless of calendar year.

Here is a quick overview of the program timeline. The application deadline is Monday, July 12, 2021, at 4:30pm. Late submissions will not be accepted. We do have a Deadline Extension Policy available on our website for more 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 may also allow me more time to provide any necessary or helpful follow-ups if your application is missing something or requires 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 peers and community members from a variety of disciplines, identities, and backgrounds. Peer assessment committees help ensure that Calgary Arts Development 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 are 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 an honorarium 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 also posted the full assessment committee Terms of Reference on our website with the guidelines, and I would encourage you to read those terms 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 mid-September, letting applicants know if they were successful or not and confirming grant amounts. I recommend adding the email address, as well as mine, to your email address book to ensure any correspondence from us isn’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. Funds will be released via direct deposit beginning in mid to late September 2021, as signed agreements are received. This processing time can take a few weeks. And 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 cannot guarantee that funds will be distributed any earlier than that. Activities funded through this program must be complete by the end of December 2022. We are unable to fund retroactive projects, which means that your project may already be underway before you submit your application or receive the results, but you cannot apply for a project that will already be fully complete before the program deadline of July 12. If anything regarding this program timeline must shift, applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

So, what can you apply for? I’ll reiterate here that the goal of this program is to support projects created by arts-based organizations 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. They might also include the presentation, dissemination, curation or sharing of artistic work. In fact, your project could include a number of these various activities at the same time. There is a full list of eligible expenses in the program guidelines that are all relatively straightforward and include things such as artists fees, marketing or outreach expenses, and so on. A note for our Operating Grant clients—you will need to demonstrate how the proposed activity is outside of your usual operating activities.

For example, applying for a strategic planning session would not be eligible, as this is the type of activity that is reasonably considered part of regular operations for which you already receive funding from us. If you have any questions about eligible expenses or if you re curious if your project is a good fit for this program, please reach out to me and we can talk about your proposal more specifically. I will also take a moment to go over some of the ineligible expenses. Salaries and wages for existing staff including salaries for permanent full-time employees, and ongoing contracts are not eligible. As well, expenses related to regular administration like fixed operating expenses including rent, utilities. Expenses not directly related to the project, including retroactive expenses debt repayment is not eligible, as well a purchase of or financial contribution towards equipment, land, or buildings over a total of $2,000 as well as purchase of any equipment not directly related to the project.

We are often asked why we have a cap on equipment purchases. Major purchases of equipment, land or buildings are considered capital expenses because they outlast the duration of the project and 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, an instrument, and so forth. So, while there is no limit on rental costs for equipment, you may only invest up to $2,000 of this grant towards the purchase of capital expenses. If you exceed this amount in your budget, you must show how the remainder of your expenses will be covered. If you make a request for the purchase of equipment you will need to demonstrate a strong and clear case for it. For example, you might explain why you need this equipment and how it will impact your proposed project. 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 also consider what the cost difference is between renting and purchasing, the current availability for rentals, the length of time you require it for and how purchasing might have long term benefit and impact for you to create future opportunities.

This process has two program streams. You can either apply to 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 this is the case and the project will be shared publicly, the Program & Present stream would likely be the best place for you to apply. Projects in this stream may still have aspects of creation, research, experimentation, development, etc. but they are more externally focused and involve sharing your work with the public. If your project won t result in something that will be shared with an audience or the general public as part of this project timeline, the Create & Develop stream is the best choice. It may eventually be shared publicly, but it is not part of the project timeline and goals for this grant application.

Projects in this stream might include some aspects of engagement with individuals or communities as part of the creation or development process, but the focus of your application at this time is more internally focused on your organization, like internal workshopping of new works, research, or improvements to your administrative practices. The intention of streaming is to help manage volume by grouping projects that are similar together in assessment and to have criteria and weighting that align to that stream. If have difficulty deciding which stream fits best, please reach out to me. If you apply to a stream and I review your application and feel it would be a better fit for the other stream, I will 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 lower than community connection and planning, which are both weighted equally. This is because these projects are typically more internally focused on process and less so on public impact or engagement.

In the Program & Present stream, both artistic impact and community connection are weighted equally. The community connection criteria statements themselves are also worded differently. The reason for this being that these projects involve sharing work publicly. So, let’s dig into the criteria statements for each of the three criteria to get a better sense of what they mean.

For both streams, artistic impact will be weighted based on if the applicant has demonstrated a deep understanding of the organization’s mandate and the role they play in their artistic communities or disciplines.

It will also be considered whether proposed project and the organization’s goals are clearly described and align with the organization’s mandate. And that the applicant has demonstrated clear reasons why this project is compelling and relevant and how it will allow them to advance the organization’s goals, mandate, and vision. The assessors will understand what artistic impact means to you based on what you tell us about your mandate, what is important to your organization, and how this project will allow you to achieve your goals. If the goal of the project is to focus on the artistic output, tell us what artistic success means to you. If the goal of the project is to focus more on community engagement, tell us what good community engagement means to you. Artistic quality will always be subjective, so it is important to guide assessors in understanding how you consider things like quality, success or relevance in your 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 does help fill in the gaps so that assessors don’t need to guess or make assumptions. We encourage you to be honest and show an awareness of how your organization delivers on its mandate, how your organizations fit into your artistic communities, and what growth and success means for you. Being able to recognize the challenges or barriers you may face can demonstrate thoughtfulness and intentionality about the way that you undertake your work. It also creates an opportunity to see how an investment in your organization might help you in finding solutions to those challenges. It’s really tempting to only paint a rosy picture to funders in a grant application 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 assessment committee how you are well set up to steward a public investment in an effective way. Keep in mind that 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 referred to as public impact is now described as community connection.

I’ll start by describing community connection for the Create & Develop stream. For this stream, the assessors will be considering if the applicant has clearly demonstrated who their organization connects with through their mandate. This could include artists, volunteers, members, audiences, students, and partners. If the project will result in work that may eventually be shared with the public, the applicant has identified who the community will be for that work. As well, assessors will be considering if the applicant has clearly demonstrated how this project is important to their ability to connect with their communities. If the project will not result in something that will directly impact their community, or will not be shared with the public at this time, the applicant has demonstrated how this will enable the organization to connect with their community moving forward and how they are considering them at this phase of the work. While we know that many 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 their organization contributes to that community. It’s really important to reflect on your organization’s mandate, and how the project might eventually allow you to connect with your community. This section allows you to reflect on why your project is important to those you’ve identified even if they won’t be experiencing it now, or what impacts it might have on your ability to connect through with your community in the future.

The community connection piece for Program & Present. For this stream, the committee will be considering if the applicant has clearly demonstrated who the organization will connect with through this project. This could include artists, collaborators, partners, members, volunteers, participants, or audiences that are part of their overall artistic mandate, or who will experience this work.

Another piece is that the applicant has clearly demonstrated how this project is important to their ability to connect with their communities they’ve identified through this project, or how the project will allow them to connect with their communities in the future. As well, the applicant has clearly demonstrated why this project is important to the communities they’ve identified and how they are considering them. So you can see this is really similar to the other stream but is using a more active and present tense and directly referring to connections through the project since there will be aspects of public presentation or sharing of the work in the Program & Present stream. There are also three criteria statements instead of two, as this criterion is weighted higher in this stream. Everything I just said on the last slide still applies. Defining your communities will allow you to better understand what it means to have an impactful relationship with them.

Finally, the last criteria piece for this process is planning. The assessment committee will be considering if 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 created overwhelming trust and confidence that the project will be completed as described and that the applicant will reach their goals.

The primary elements of your application that will relate to this criteria piece are your project description, project budget, and project timeline but again I really encourage folks to think about their applications holistically. Keep all three of these criteria in your mind throughout the process of writing your entire grant.

Here I want to 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 or presentation, we strongly recommend that you consider how feasible this is, and how your project could be impacted if various government restrictions and recommendations continue. Examples of this are social distancing, caps on group sizes, gatherings and performances both indoor and outdoor, the potential availability of venues, ongoing travel restrictions, and the potential audience willingness to partake in live or in-person events.

We understand that it will be difficult to plan projects with certainty, but it’s important to be realistic about what is reasonable, feasible, and foreseeable in the coming year year and a half. Take time to reflect on what you have learned and witnessed over the past year/year and half and about the current circumstances when deciding what project you will apply with, when it will 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, safety measures or considerations in your application. Demonstrating thoughtfulness and foresight here 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 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 for us to consider. Please reach out to me if you are unsure or have questions about your specific circumstances, and you can also visit the Calgary Arts Development website. We have a COVID-19 information page that we keep up to date with the latest news, government regulations, and measures from reliable public health authorities. In this vein, a common question we receive is, “What if I receive this grant, but I am not able to complete my project?” whether due to COVID-19 or otherwise.

We understand that sometimes things shift in your timeline or circumstances, and your project or activities may 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 will take longer than expected, we are generally able to extend your reporting deadline to reflect the new timeline. If the shift or change to your project or activities are 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 are no longer able to complete your project in any form, you will be asked to return your grant investment. Please contact me, your program specialist, as soon as possible to discuss the changes. We really do try 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 do not complete your project and your required reporting accurately and honestly, you will not be considered to be in good standing and will be unable to apply for future programs until the situation is resolved, which may include returning grant funds or resubmitting reporting. Given that it is 12:42pm, I think this is a good point to pause…

Now that we have a sense of the criteria pieces, we can now start to explore how your application will be scored.

In this program we will be able to fund about 32 to 45 applications, depending on request levels, but we will be receiving many more applications than we are reasonably able to support as is the nature of most granting programs and the challenge for assessment committees. We have been adjusting our scoring processes to make it clearer what you are being evaluated on and how you might achieve a highly 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 to tie assessor evaluations even more directly to the criteria of the program, which we believe should help to prioritize investments.

So, what makes an exceptional application?

Exceptional applications demonstrate a deep understanding of the organization s mandate 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 as described and that the applicant will reach their goals. There is a clear sense of readiness and critical awareness within the application.

A good application demonstrates a general understanding of the organization ‘ss mandate 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 may be lacking detail or rationale. Good applications include most of the relevant information required to create trust that the project will be completed as described and that the applicant will reach their goals. There may be some information, support or evidence missing that would have created more confidence.

And what makes a weak application?

Weak applications do not demonstrate a clear understanding of the organization’s mandate 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. And there is a lack of readiness or critical awareness present in the application and the applicant would benefit from feedback.

The scoring matrix intends to help you navigate how to approach your application and how assessors are going to navigate personal bias around things like taste, aesthetic, and processes and instead, focus on scoring according to how well an organization 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 that is being proposed is exceptional. It’s that you’ve made a clear and compelling case for how this investment is going to impact your organization and how it’s going to help you achieve your goals, and that you’ve shown that you have a clear understanding of your communities, discipline, and what’s required to undertake the project. These are all the things that creates trust and confidence. In contrast to that, in a weak application, it doesn’t matter how great the art or project idea is if you haven’t answered the questions thoughtfully and thoroughly and have demonstrated that you have 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 Organization A creates work or programming that you don’t personally enjoy, but they have clearly articulated why it is 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. This organization is more likely to end up with an exceptional score. In contrast, say Organization B creates programming and work that an assessor loves, but they have not answered the application questions sufficiently, they have not demonstrated an awareness of their role in the community, or the relationships and planning needed to support their project. This organization 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 organization given what they’ve shared with you about their practice, goals, and particular context is what assessors will be considering.

This is the best tip I can provide so keep this handy—keep the scoring matrix and criteria close at hand while you’re preparing your application. All of this is available to you in the project guidelines, so there are no questions or surprises about assessors will be considering as they’re reviewing your application.

So, the assessment process. There will be one to two assessment committees assigned to each program depending on the stream and 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 July late August, then meet to discuss all applications together as a committee, adjust their evaluations as needed, and make final funding recommendations.

As the program specialist, I’m responsible for facilitating these discussions and ensuring that the conversations are fair and appreciative, and that assessors are acting within the Group Agreements and process outlined in the Terms of Reference. Our Group Agreements and Terms of Reference are also available to you on our website.

This is a checklist of everything you’ll be asked to provide in the application. Most of it is very straightforward but as always, you can reach out to me with questions, should you have any. You’ll be asked for your current contact information, project name, a description of your project, the stream you’re applying to, the amount you are requesting, and the start and end date of your project. The organization mandate, project description, artistic impact, and community connection sections 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 either our standard budget template or you can use your own. Our template is available for download directly in the application. There’s also an area to provide support materials.

Once you log into our granting interface, you’ll notice that we have provided a maximum word/character count for each written section of the application form. This should be considered the maximum, not necessarily the goal. If you do not need to use up the word count to make your case, don’t feel compelled to fill the space. However, it is important to provide enough information for assessors to understand your practice, activities, and goals so be thoughtful, clear, and specific. I cannot emphasize enough how much committees like a straightforward application where they don’t have to work hard to understand or connect the dots. So now we’ll dive into each of pieces you’ll be asked to provide.

First is your organization mandate. This is an introduction to your organization and overall goals, as opposed to the specific project goals. This is where you tell assessors how and why your organization operates. I like to compare this section to the thesis statement of an essay. The rest of the application should support how the proposed project will help serve your mandate. This section should not be about this specific project or activity but rather about your overall operations and goals. This is where you can tell assessors what you value as an organization and provide context around your mission, vision, and values.

Remember that this introduction provides the most significant context for how they understand how your project. 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 mandate.

The project description. It’s really important to be 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 big W questions—the who, what, when, and where of your project. For example, you might explain how you came to select a particular platform or venue to share your work, why the dates you’ve chosen are feasible, or why you’ve chosen to work with specific collaborators, etc. This should be a helpful, relatively detailed description of the project details but keep in mind you’ll have a chance to dig deeper into the who and how in the following sections.

Artistic impact. You will be asked to describe the project and why they’re important and relevant to your organization’s mandate. Again, you’ll notice that mandate comes up quite a bit throughout the application, so I will continue to emphasize how important it is to have a clear mandate from the beginning. This section also asks how do you measure success, learnings or impact and what is helpful and meaningful 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 means to you. For example, we don’t track numbers for the sake of numbers—we track them because they help us illustrate the scale of impact. For the Create & Develop stream, in terms of community connection, you’ll be asked to describe who you connect with through your organizational mandate.

Again, there’s that mandate piece. This could include artists, volunteers, members, audiences, etc. I think a common pitfall that organizations fall into is they only consider their audience as the main focal point of their connection. But, there are many other folks that make up your community. So I encourage you to think widely about that as well. Community connection in the Program & Present stream are as follows.

Another piece I’d like to emphasize that the quality and depth of your relationships is just as important, if not more important, than the breadth or quantity of your relationships. We don’t 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 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. Like artistic impact, evaluating the success of your community connection or impact goals must be meaningful. The quantity and numbers can tell a meaningful story, but you might also be interested in qualitative measures like audience response, feedback you received from a workshop, how experimenting with a new form of engagement might affect your operations, etc.

Project timeline and work plan. This piece should tell us how you will accomplish your project.

Your timeline and work plan Include all important artistic and community-related activities, tasks, events, milestones, and 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 where necessary. If something changes after you submit your application, please let me know immediately as we may be able to make updates to your application or provide additional contexts to assessors depending on where we are at in the assessment process. There is no standard template for the work plan. You can create and upload your document in any format. Depending on your project, it might make sense to use a calendar format, or a dated list format, you might break things down by each week or each month. Or you might use some sort of flow lane chart or diagram.

The most important thing here to consider is that your work plan is clear, intuitive, and easy on the eyes. We really don’t recommend using complex colour coded timelines that require a legend to understand as this will be pretty confusing to assessors. This may also be the area where you’re speaking to any necessary COVID related considerations, contingencies, or safety measures.

And lastly, you’ll be expected to provide us with a budget. In this program you can use our standard budget template that Calgary Arts Development has created, or you can use your own and upload it to your application.

Regardless of the template you use, it must include all your expenses and any project revenues, including the amount you are requesting from this grant program. Be sure to account for the entire scope of the proposed project that you are applying for. We also really recommend that you use the notes section to clarify line items, show calculations or estimations or provide descriptions to line items in your budget.

The biggest piece of feedback we often hear from assessors is that they wish budgets had more clarity and detail provided. Notes you might include here is indicating if something is purchased or rented if you’re outlining fees for different artists or contractors. If you are doing this include their names, roles, and a breakdown of their fee. You can also indicate if something is a flat rate, hourly or weekly rate, quote or if it’s based on a standard fee, the list goes on.

The note here is to be as detailed as possible in your budget and to make really good use of the notes section. You’ll also want to include 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 include rehearsal space, food, volunteer hours, etc. You should still reflect these in your revenue section and indicate the monetary value so that it balances on the related expense. A common question we receive is, “Should I apply for the maximum grant amount available? Will I have a better chance for success if I apply for less?” 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, imagine how the project would run ideally, and then build your budget from that. If your project expenses go over the maximum request amount, then you can reconsider the scope of your project, 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 you can provide an alternate budget. But assessors won’t be able to guess as to which pieces can be scaled. Assessors also can’t recommend an amount higher than what you’ve 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 often get is, “What if my project costs more than the maximum grant amount available?”

Here you will have to show how you will fund the remaining expenses, either through fundraising, other grants or sponsorships, or your organization’s reserve funds. It is okay if you are applying for additional funding outside of this program, but it won’t be confirmed before the deadline.

This is the last thing you’ll be asked for in your application which is the support material. There are four optional upload fields provided in your application for you to provide additional files or links that strengthen your case, or help assessors understand more about your project or organization. While the support material is optional it is highly recommended.

The support material you provide should be relevant and meaningful to your application and can do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to providing extra context and information about your organization. Things you might that you might include in the support material could include the quality of part past programming, or documentation of previous projects.

You might include documentation or information that demonstrates your research you’ve done towards your project such as quotes, invoices, contracts that you have from partners you’re working with. Or you might include things that demonstrate the partnerships or relationships you have related to the proposed project, like a letter of support from someone involved in the project, confirmations or correspondence that shows a commitment or planning for the project, etc. Whatever you choose to include, make sure that it elevates your proposal.

Each of the four upload areas has room for 3MB of material so please feel free to combine multiple documents into one. I should also mention that audio or video files cannot be directly uploaded into the application as our grant interface doesn’t allow this. So instead, if you do want to share a video, they must be uploaded to a 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 also 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 have included it. Lastly, please be considerate of the assessment committee’s time. They will be reading many applications so consider how much additional material you include in the support area. Direct their attention to the most important elements of what you’re sharing. For example, if you’re showing a long video and it’s more than five minutes, direct them to the most important time stamp on the video.

Likewise, if you’re sharing your organization’s website, direct them to specific areas or pages of your website that you want them to focus on. In the past we’ve asked assessors to view up to 10 minutes of support material and they weren’t required to read more than that so you can still use about 10 minutes as a general recommendation. If you do need any assistance combining materials, or you’re having trouble navigating our granting interface, please reach out and I’m more than happy to help you out there.

To wind this down, we have two more slides left, I’ll just share with you some general grant tips we like to share.

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

We really recommend using plain language rather than academic or artist speak. Plain language is often is more clear 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. 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 will be reading so many. It can be really tempting to paint a rosy picture of your organization and project but having to have an appreciative sense of what challenges and barriers you might experience in your work will really demonstrate capacity, awareness, and potential. Do your research and 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 organization to read your application.

The questions they ask may uncover gaps or assumptions you are making in the story you are telling. Board members can also be a good resource for you before you submit your final application. 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 themselves, or a demonstration of your incredible writing skills. Rather, your goal is to paint a full and complete narrative of your organization’s mandate, what you do and how, why it’s 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.

So, with that, I’d just like to say thanks. I really appreciate your time with me this afternoon. Here is my contact information for this program again. Please don’t be shy—reach out early and ask questions! The earlier you’re able to reach out, the better I am able to help you. And if you do request feedback, please remember to do so at least one week before the program deadline, so that’s July 5. It’s really helpful if you ask specific questions as much as possible so that I can focus and direct my feedback on the areas or aspects of your application that you are most concerned about. So some good questions are—is my budget clear and broken down enough? Have I included sufficient detail in my timeline given the scope of my project? etc. So, the more specific you are, the better I can be in helping you out. Keep in mind as well that I am only one person with one perspective and there are lots of folks that you can look to within your organizations for feedback and resources as well.

And so, thank you so much. I really appreciate it and that’s the formal part of my presentation.

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