Guidelines: City-Builder Program

Guidelines: City-Builder Program

Thank you for your interest in the City-Builder Program. On April 11, 2019 the Calgary Arts Development board of directors approved combining the funding for the City-Builder Program into the OG+ Program for 2019.

Program Overview

The City-Builder Program is intended to identify and provide operational funding to a cohort of organizations that represent the diversity of artistic communities in Calgary, Mohkinstsis and are poised to take a leadership role in how arts and culture contribute to the overall vitality of our city. These organizations will be chosen for their demonstrated dedication and excellence in building community through the arts at a city- and macro-community scale, fostering reciprocal collaborations and partnerships both within the arts and across sectors.

Funding & Timeframe:
The City-Builder cohort will comprise up to eight organizations that will receive an annual operating grant investment from 2019 through 2022.

All applicants interested in applying to the City Builder Program must arrange to speak with Calgary Arts Development staff as soon as possible so we can answer questions and provide context before receiving access to the full application.

Successful applicants will be expected to work closely with the Calgary Arts Development leadership team, other civic partners, and community builders through the four-year cycle on goals related to how the arts contribute to an overall city vitality.

Who Can Apply:
Any non-profit arts organization registered as a society or charity in Alberta (see Who Can Apply section below). All applicants to the program must make arrangements to first meet with program staff prior as soon as possible (see How to Apply section below).

Process Overview:

  • Online application
  • Criteria: Arts-led City Building, Engagement/Relationships, Organizational Resilience/Capacity, Adaptive Capacity
  • Peer-led jury process

Notification of Results: Late June 2019

 Accommodation and Accessibility

The Calgary Arts Development Community Investment team is available at any time to answer questions and to offer support and feedback at any time during the application process.

Staff can answer specific questions and/or provide feedback up to two business days before the application deadlines. Please contact the team as early as possible to ensure they can provide the best support possible.

Calgary Arts Development is committed to open, fair and transparent processes. We will work with applicants who experience barriers to access our granting programs to develop accommodations that suit their abilities, including but not limited to:

  • Translation
  • Braille transcription
  • Physical access to meeting spaces

Please contact 403.476.2031 or email

Program Information

In 2017, Calgary City Council directed Calgary Arts Development to undertake a collaborative process with the 2015-2018 Cornerstone organizations and other groups to create a Sustainability Framework for the arts sector.

This framework was intended to inform Calgary Arts Development on how the current use of resources and any gaps relate to arts organizations’ abilities to advance City of Calgary priorities. The Sustainability Framework was an important element in building the case that led to City Council granting an increase to Calgary Arts Development’s overall budget for the 2019-2022 budget cycle.

Building off of the momentum and learning of the Sustainability Framework process, the City-Builder Program cohort will work closely with Calgary Arts Development and other civic-partners and community representatives. The goals of the program and all involved will be to take a leadership role in identifying and activating further opportunities for the arts to contribute to city vitality and the work of sharing that story with the broader community.

Program Criteria

Organizations applying to this program will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Arts-led Community Building
    • Acting as a leader across artistic communities.
    • Providing engaging and thoughtful artistic experiences/programs that meaningfully contribute to civic and community identity.
  • Engagement/Relationships
    • An authentic commitment to values of equity (1), diversity (2), and inclusion (3), and Truth and Reconciliation, in terms of both internal operations and programming.
    • Clear alignment to a set of community goals and opportunities that advance civic vitality and are shared with community partners.
    • Clear dedication to supporting and meeting the needs of community partners (this includes individuals, groups, artistic disciplines, sectors, etc. within the city and region).
  • Organizational Resilience/Capacity
    • Excellence in operations and maintaining an organizational scale necessary to meet the needs of community partners and to address opportunities through collaboration with them.
    • Financial sustainability and planning.
  • Adaptive Capacity
    • Evidence of success and/or practices related to minimizing unsafe risk and maximizing wise opportunity.
    • An organizational culture of questioning and testing assumptions related to how and why work is undertaken, reflecting or anticipating current and/or future circumstances.

(1) An approach to diversity in which differences among all people in a community are accommodated on an individual basis and historical exclusions and systemic barriers that are unique to diverse peoples are taken into account.
(2) Describes the wide range of identities of the people that live in a community, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical and cognitive ability, class, etc.
(3) A sense of belonging, which allows people to engage with and contribute within a community or environment.

Keep in mind that these criteria are not about being everything to everyone. How you approach each of them should reflect a clear understanding of your place within many overlapping communities and scales that together make up Calgary, Mohkinstsis.

Who Can Apply

To be eligible for the City-Builder Program, an organization must:

  • Operate under an arts mandate.
  • Be registered as a non-profit organization, corporation or society in the Province of Alberta.
  • Have been in operation for at least three full years.
  • Maintain operations throughout the whole or majority of the year.
  • Maintain a significant amount of activities that support Calgary artists or are accessible to Calgary citizens.

Program staff review all applications for eligibility. For organizations that also have non-arts-related programming or operate in areas outside of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development will determine eligibility through the organization’s commitment to the arts and the scope of its activities within Calgary’s arts community.

The following groups are ineligible for funding through the Operating Grant Program:

  • Political, trade union or fraternal lodge organizations.
  • Degree- and diploma-granting educational institutes such as colleges and universities.
  • Organizations that receive operational funding directly from The City of Calgary.

Assessment Process

All applications to this program will be reviewed and discussed by an arm’s-length assessment committee within the context of each organization’s mandate, who will then make recommendations to Calgary Arts Development.

The membership of this committee will be chosen to reflect a diversity of perspectives that reflect Calgary, Mohkinstsis:

  • Seven members.
  • Artistic Peers: Artists and arts workers with experience and knowledge relevant to the arts sector.
  • Community Members: Individuals from Calgary, Mohkinstsis who actively experience and participate in the arts and who have perspectives and a skillset transferable to the arts sector.

Group Agreements

All members of the assessment committee will be expected to honour the following group agreements when discussing applications:

  1. We commit to creating a safe space for everyone by:
    1. Respecting each person regardless of how they identify, including their gender, sexuality, age, religion, beliefs, nation, etc.
    2. Not interrupting others.
    3. Being mindful of how much time/space we each take up in discussions.
    4. Making time/space for others to speak.
    5. Using “I” statements (“I feel,” “I think,” “I wonder,” etc.).
    6. Replacing criticism with questions and encouragement.
    7. Respecting those who wish to listen silently.
  2. We will respect all art forms, traditional, contemporary or other.
  3. We will consider what the criteria mean for each applicant based on:
    1. How they define their own practice.
    2. What is appropriate within their artistic discipline.
    3. Their stage of career/practice/experience/expertise in their form.
    4. A respect for the unique traditions and rights of different First Nations, Metis and Inuit nations/communities.
  4. We will try to focus every conversation around what we appreciate about every project.
  5. We will remember that this is not a panel of experts:
    1. We will honour the knowledge and experience others share.
    2. We will not impose arbitrary standards or ideas on an applicant or their project/activity that are not appropriate to the specific context.
    3. We will acknowledge the experiences and values that may make each of us biased.
    4. We will allow others to help us check in with our biases in a respectful and productive way.

Please refer to the Assessment Committee Terms of Reference for further information about the assessment process.

How to Apply

Due to the large scope of the application and accountabilities attached to being funded through this program, all applicants must arrange to meet with program staff to receive access to the program.

The purpose of these meetings is for program staff to support potential applicants by answering questions, providing feedback on potential approaches and helping organizations self-determine their fit for the program.

After an initial meeting, program staff will provide instructions and support for accessing the online application process.

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

Please contact program staff at or 403.476.2031 as soon as possible.

Application Checklist

  • Organization Information (applicant contact information, organization mandate)
  • Basic Reporting (only for those that have not already submitted them for reporting in 2019):
  • Most recent Financial Statements: Applicants must include a Statement of Operations (4), Balance Sheet (5), and two years of comparisons. If audited financial statements are unavailable, applicants must include the signatures of two board members not involved in creating the statements. PDF files only.
  • Arts-led Community Building (typed directly into the application form). Also take into consideration the criterion of Adaptive Capacity in how you respond. Demonstrate a critical self-awareness and show what you have learned through both success and failure:
    • Describe how and why your organization considers itself a leader across artistic communities (max 600 words).
    • Describe how artistic experiences and programs you provide will contribute to civic and community identities in Calgary, Mohkinstsis in 2019-2022 (max 600 words).
  • Engagement/Relationships (typed directly into the application form). Also take into consideration the criterion of Adaptive Capacity in how you respond. Demonstrate a critical self-awareness and show what you have learned through both success and failure:
    • Describe how your organization is committed to values of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and Truth and Reconciliation, in terms of both internal operations and programming (max 600 words).
    • Speak to who you feel are your community partners and why. What shared goals are you collectively working towards in 2019-2022, and why (max 600 words)?
  • Organizational Resilience/Capacity (typed directly into the application form). Also take into consideration the criterion of Adaptive Capacity in how you respond. Demonstrate a critical self-awareness and show what you have learned through both success and failure:
    • Speak to the practices, policies and processes that allow you to run your organization in a resilient and effective way (max 600 words).
    • Provide evidence of how you are planning strategically to achieve community goals for 2019-2022. Upload your most recent strategic plan or equivalent document (upload in DOC, DOCX or PDF only).
  • 2019-2022 Timeline including key milestones and targets related to the questions above (upload in XLX, XLXS, DOC, DOCX or PDF only).
  • Organizational Structure, describing leadership and staff roles, including lines of accountability (uploaded in DOC, DOCX or PDF only).
  • List of Board Members (can be uploaded in DOC, DOCX, or PDF format, or through the standard form).
  • Support Materials: Provide additional materials that help support your case for this program, such as text, digital images, audio or video. Limit your support material to a maximum review time of 10 minutes, or 10 pages of text. You may include up to four attachments with a maximum size of 1MB each. Please provide short descriptions of each attachment in the fields provided. Acceptable file formats are PDF, JPG, DOC, DOCX, XLS and XLSX. For audio and video materials, please enter a YouTube or Vimeo link with specific instructions on which parts to review.

(4) A summary of an organization’s revenues and expenses for a fiscal year.
(5) A summary of an organization’s assets and liabilities for a fiscal year.

Fair Notice Policy

This policy ensures that organizations that receive annual operational funding from Calgary Arts Development have the opportunity to address risks related to the investment they receive. These processes are intended to encourage those organizations to work with Calgary Arts Development to create strategies and remedy high-risk conditions without being subject to major fluctuations in their grants in a single assessment year.

In addition to the assessment process described above, program staff will review applications to ensure that there are no significant risks to an organization’s resiliency. Identified risks may result in a resiliency flag and open the organizations to reductions to grant amounts as outlined in the Fair Notice Policy.

Organizations Flagged in 2018

All organizations flagged in 2018 either filled out an online report or met with program staff, and all flagged organizations received notes outlining resiliency concerns (contact program staff if your organization requires a copy of these notes).

Flagged organizations must provide an update on these resiliency concerns in the Statement of Resiliency section of their Basic Reporting submission. The Fair Notice Policy address ongoing resiliency concerns.

Notification and Results

Applicants will be notified of the results of their applications in writing by late June 2019.

Collection, Use, Disclosure of Grant Information

Personal information is received by Calgary Arts Development from people and organizations who apply for grants, members of committees assessing applications, and many others in the course of its activities. Calgary Arts Development will never reveal personal information to any third party without your prior knowledge and consent, unless required to do so by law.

Information provided in both successful and unsuccessful grant applications may be used to plan, evaluate and review programs, and for generating statistics for these activities: statistical reporting, studies, issue and trend analysis. Information shared when reporting in these ways will be anonymized and only shared in aggregate. No personal information provided in grant applications will be shared publicly without prior applicant consent.


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

Our team is here to support you! If you have any questions about the program contact the Community Investment team at or 403.476.2031.

Download the Full Program Guidelines as a PDF

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