Guidelines: Artist Opportunity Grant Program 2016

Guidelines: Artist Opportunity Grant Program 2016

Application Deadlines: January 8, April 4, July 4, October 3, 2016 at 4:30pm MST

Program Information

This program invests in professional development opportunities for individual professional artists*, allowing them to take advantage of short-term opportunities that will develop their careers.

*Professional Artist, as defined by the Canada Council for the Arts: “A professional artist has specialized training in his or her artistic field (not necessarily obtained in an academic institution); is recognized as such by his or her peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition); is committed to devoting more time to the artistic activity if this becomes financially feasible; and has a history of public presentation.”

What is an Opportunity?

An opportunity must be a unique experience that clearly contributes to meaningful growth and development for the applicant’s practice and career. It may be one of many things, for example, an invitation to exhibit at a prestigious gallery, to study with a mentor or renowned teacher or to perform at a festival out of town. An opportunity might follow from a selection jury or a competitive process.

Ultimately, an opportunity can only be defined in the context of each artist’s career.

What can you Apply For?

Artist Opportunity Grants can cover expenses related to a unique professional opportunity, to a maximum of $2,500. Applications will not be considered for opportunities that have already occurred or are more than halfway complete as of the deadline date. Grant decisions will be based on the assessment criteria described below. If you have questions about the eligibility of your opportunity, please contact us before applying.

When Should You Apply?

Consult the Deadlines and Assessment Criteria Sections below. The ideal time to submit an application is when you can make the best case for your opportunity without jeopardizing your access to it. Contact the Community Investment Team if you have any questions.

I Need Help with my Application!

Contact the Community Investment Team if you have specific questions about your application, or to request that a submitted application be sent back to draft for revision up to 48 hours before a deadline. In some cases Community Investment staff will send a submitted application back to draft and notify the applicant if it is incomplete, both before and sometimes after the deadline.


Eligible applicants must be professional artists with an intention and commitment to maintaining a majority of activities that contribute to the Calgary arts community and are accessible to Calgarians. Artists may apply to participate in opportunities to which their groups or collectives have been invited, but applicants must focus on the impact to their own careers, distinct from their group.

Any single applicant may only receive one Artist Opportunity Grant per calendar year.

Eligible expenses include:

  • Travel associated with a forthcoming, concrete opportunity to perform, exhibit or audition, or to study with a mentor (lowest viable fares). 
  • Materials or equipment needed to prepare existing work for a presentation that the artist has been formally invited to participate in, and/or materials required for a residency, program or opportunity that is not self-directed.
  • Documentation of work that is part of a forthcoming, concrete opportunity.
  • Professional fees and services related to a specific opportunity.
  • Reasonably priced accommodations if the opportunity is more than 100 km from home.
  • Other expenses that would allow an artist access to a specific opportunity (e.g., child care), including basic living expenses for the duration of the opportunity (must provide documented proof of these expenses).

The Artist Opportunity Grant is not intended to support:

  • Curatorial projects.
  • Materials to create new works of art, unless otherwise stated above.
  • Activities that have already taken place.
  • Regular, ongoing creation or studio practice.
  • Undergraduate or graduate study.
  • Applicant’s own artist fees.
  • Medical, legal or accounting fees.
  • Administrative expenses.
  • Commercial activities.
  • Purchase of equipment costing more than $500 or not related to a forthcoming, concrete opportunity.
  • Self-produced exhibitions, performances or publications.
  • Opportunities for amateur artists.
  • Opportunities for arts administrators.

How to Apply

Applications will only be accepted online through Calgary Arts Development’s grant interface.


There are four quarterly deadlines for the Artist Opportunity Grant Program in 2016:

  • January 8, 2016
  • April 4, 2016
  • July 4, 2016
  • October 3, 2016

Applications must be submitted before 4:30pm MST on the day of the deadline. Late applications will not be accepted. Extensions may be provided upon request in certain circumstances in advance of a deadline. Consult the Deadline Extensions Policy for more information.

The budget for each intake will be $30,000, with any unexpended funds rolling over to the following period.

Notifications will generally be sent out within one month of the deadline, depending on the number of applications being processed at the time. If you do not receive funding the first time you apply, we encourage you to contact us for feedback so that you may apply again, provided your opportunity is still available and eligible for funding.

The application includes:

  • Applicant Information: Contact Information, resume/CV and artist statement.
  • Opportunity: Describe the opportunity, when and where it takes place, and why it is unique (300 words max).
  • Impact: Describe how this opportunity impacts your professional development as an artist (300 words max).
  • Use of the Grant: Provide a budget relating to the opportunity. If expenses exceed the maximum request of $2,500, include an explanation of how you will cover these additional costs. You must download and submit the budget template.
  • Supporting Material: Attach critical reviews and/or materials from the organization providing the opportunity, including a letter of invitation if applicable. Other documentation related to expenses and opportunity logistics may be included here (up to four attachments, each with a maximum size of 4MB). Acceptable file types are PDF, JPG, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX.
  • Reference: Provide one professional reference that can speak to your artistic practice.

Assessment Criteria

Calgary Arts Development staff will assess applications on the following non-aesthetic criteria:

  • The uniqueness of the opportunity in the context of the artist’s career and whether or not it is a repeat of past experiences (e.g., is it juried selectively, time-sensitive or prestigious for the artist?).
  • The impact of the opportunity and whether the application has made the case that the opportunity has true potential to impact the artist’s career development.
  • The concreteness of the opportunity and what certainty of access to the opportunity the artist has demonstrated (e.g., does it depend on other factors outside of the scope of this grant?).
  • The appropriateness of the level of funding requested given the type of the opportunity, based on the information provided in the application.

In 2016, whenever possible, one external artistic assessor will be invited to join the assessment committee for each intake. To nominate an assessor, please fill out this form.

Conditions of Receiving a Grant

Successful applicants will be required to sign an investment agreement before receiving funding and complete a brief Final Report within 90 days of the end of the term of that agreement, which includes a budget updated with actuals. Applicants should be prepared to submit receipts for expenses upon request. Reporting requirements will be outlined in the applicant’s investment agreement.


Consult the Investment Program FAQ for answers to common questions about the program.

Contact the Community Investment team at or 403.476.2031 if you have further questions.

Special thanks to the Greater Pittsburgh’s Artist Opportunity Grant, which served as a model for this program.

Download guidelines as a PDF

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