Guidelines: Operating Grant Increase Program

Guidelines: Operating Grant Increase Program

Updated April 5, 2022

March 7, 2022: Full guidelines published
April 19, 2022: Letter of Intent deadline (no applications accepted after 4:30pm MT)
May – June 2022: Presentation meetings and evaluation of grants
Early July 2022: Notification of results
July 2022: Funds distributed
Download Program Guidelines as a PDF

Letters of intent must be submitted by the stated deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted. If you have questions or need help completing an application, please contact us as soon as possible so we can get you what you need. Please see the Deadline Extension Policy for information about extensions.

Due to the format of this application process, the program specialist cannot provide support or feedback once the in-person meetings begin. Please submit any requests for feedback or support before May 6, 2022.

Please refer to each section below for important program details. We also recommend reviewing the Investment Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) before applying.

This program is intended to provide one-time increases of up to $25,000 to operating grant clients to support the recovery of our arts sector and build the runway to resiliency. These are not intended as relief funds. Grants will be made to organizations who demonstrate forward-looking aspirations responding to and building upon the impacts of the pandemic to ensure a vibrant, revitalized, and re-imagined arts sector for Calgarians post-pandemic.

Funding priorities include:

  • Re-opening efforts.
  • The development of new business models.
  • Attracting, restoring, and retaining jobs for artists and arts professionals.
  • Truth and Reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA).

Organizations may request up to $25,000. 

Total funding available for this program is $1,400,000.

Applications to this program will consist of a short written proposal and verbal presentation to the assessment committee, which will be composed of Calgary Arts Development staff and artistic and community peers. The proposal will be supplemented by information submitted through the interim report to provide context as needed.

Organizations must submit a letter of intent by April 19, 2022, to indicate that they will be applying to the program and to schedule their presentation meeting. For more information, please see the How to Apply section below.

We acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Nations—Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai; and also acknowledge the Beaver people of the Tsuut’ina and the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley bands of the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, the Métis People of Region 3, and Indigenous peoples who make the Treaty 7 region their home.

As part of our responsibility to Calgarians to ensure equitable access to public funding, Calgary Arts Development is dedicated to addressing and working to eliminate institutional inequity in our programs, policies, and practices. We also acknowledge that our actions—both conscious and unconscious, past and present—have benefited some communities while limiting opportunities and outcomes for others including Indigenous communities, Black communities, persons of colour, persons with disabilities, Deaf communities, as well as persons with diverse sexual orientations or gender identities.

We envision a city where all artists have the freedom, agency and platform to share and amplify their stories, art, cultures and experiences: a city where Calgarians of all backgrounds can access, create and participate in art as part of their everyday lives.

To that end, Calgary Arts Development’s community investment team is accountable to ensuring that lines of communication are welcoming, clear, and open, and that the scoring process is fair and deeply considerate. We will work one-on-one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their unique abilities and situations and continually seek to learn and address inequities in our programs and processes.

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 career in the arts. If you are unsure about eligibility, please reach out to discuss this with the program specialist before applying.

Calgary Arts Development is committed to open, fair, and transparent processes. If you have any questions, want feedback on your application or if it’s your first time applying, please don’t hesitate to contact us for support. While we may not be able to meet in person at this time, our team will be available to provide support over the phone, through email, or through the use of audio and video platforms.

Please see see the Investment Program FAQ for answers to common questions, and contact the program specialist as early as you can to ensure they can provide the best support possible. Staff can provide feedback on your application up to one week before application deadlines.

There are two policies available for potential applicants who may need accommodations or assistance to apply to this program such as translating program guidelines and applications. These policies are available to potential applicants even if they decide not to apply to the program.

  • An Accommodation & Accessibility Policy is available for potential applicants who experience barriers to access, to develop accommodations that suit their abilities and situations.
  • The Application Assistance Policy provides financial support for eligible applicants to alleviate some of the costs associated with preparing and submitting an application.

This program is open to operating grant clients who are in good standing with Calgary Arts Development. Organizations who are undergoing a flag review process according to the Fair Notice Policy may not be eligible for increased funding dependent on the severity of the risk as assessed by Calgary Arts Development staff.

If an organization is not eligible for this program, they will be notified in writing by April 11, 2022.

Grants from this program are considered one-time increases to the organization’s overall operating grant, but organizations will be asked to outline how these funds will help them respond to any of the below priority areas.

  • Re-opening efforts.
  • The development of new business models.
  • Attracting, restoring, and retaining jobs for artists and arts professionals.
  • Truth and Reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA).

These funding priorities have been identified based on data and research collected since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, and substantiated by sector trends, field scans, and what we are hearing from arts organizations in Calgary. We have been particularly informed by the below reports which outline and reflect on the attitudes and needs of arts professionals and audiences.

These funds cannot be used for the below ineligible expenses and activities:

  • Debt repayment.
  • Contributions to reserve funds.
  • Activities undertaken for the purpose of raising funds on behalf of a third party (e.g.: political party or charity).
  • Activities that do not comply with or respect cultural protocols.
  • Activities that use or present Indigenous cultural material, traditional knowledge or stories without permission from the community.
  • Activities that promote hatred or intolerance.
  • Activities that are illegal or contravene provincial or federal law.
  • Activities that contravene municipal bylaws.
  • Activities related to campaigning for a specific political candidate or party in an election.

Calgary Arts Development is in the process of transitioning to a new online grant interface. Due to this transition, letters of intent will be accepted through email. Calgary Arts Development staff will follow up with confirmation of receipt and information about how to schedule the verbal presentation.

Letters of intent must be submitted in writing to Please use the subject line Letter of Intent: Operating Grant Increase Program and include the following information:

  • A brief description of your proposal including which funding priority area your organization is responding to, and what the funding may be used for (up to 300 words):
    • Re-opening efforts.
    • The development of new business models.
    • Attracting, restoring, and retaining jobs for artists and arts professionals.
    • Truth and Reconciliation, anti-racism, and equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA).
  • Funding Request (up to $25,000)

Letters of Intent must be received by April 19, 2022, 4:30pm MT.

Applicants will be given a 45-minute time slot for their proposal presentation, which will occur over Zoom between May and June. Presentations should be no longer than approximately 30 minutes to give time for follow-up questions. Applicants may present their proposal in any structure or format, but should ensure that they address the program criteria statements outlined in the Program Criteria & Scoring section below.

Applicants will not be assessed on the production value of their presentation or the quality of delivery, but rather on the preparedness, reflectiveness and content of the proposal.

Organizations will not be expected to provide detailed project plans and budgets for their responses. Applicants should use their presentation to describe and demonstrate:

  • What they are responding to.
  • How they have identified the response.
  • Why they believe it will create the conditions for recovery and resiliency in the short-, mid-, and long-term.
  • How their grant request aligns with the scope, scale, and context of the work being proposed, and how that grant request was determined.

Assessors will rate the level to which they agree or disagree with each of the criteria below, based on the information provided in the proposal.

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
Program Criteria


  • The applicant has defined and understands their current role within Calgary’s arts sector.
  • The applicant has defined and understands the priority(s) they are responding to within their own organizational context.
  • The applicant has defined and understands the current state of their organization’s operations and programming with regard to sector reopening, recovery, and resiliency.


  • The applicant has defined and understands why and how their response will help them address the priority(s) identified.
  • The applicant has defined and understands why this response will help create the conditions for recovery and resiliency for their organization or the broader arts sector.
  • The applicant has defined and understands who their communities are, and which communities will be impacted by this response.

Preparation & Planning

  • The applicant was prepared and thorough in their proposal.
  • The applicant has demonstrated their decision-making process to identify the focus area for the proposal.
  • The applicant was reflective and considerate when responding to follow up questions.

As the purpose of this program is to contribute to conditions that ensure a vibrant, revitalized, and re-imagined arts sector for all Calgarians post-pandemic, funds through this program will be allocated with an eye to the arts ecosystem as a whole.

In the event of a tie, priority may be given based on the following considerations, at Calgary Arts Development’s discretion:

  • Representation across all artistic disciplines, communities, and types of programming.
  • Opportunities that meaningfully meet two or more of the stated funding priority areas.
  • Opportunities or organizations led by, with, and for equity priority groups.

Applications to the program will be evaluated by a recommending committee made up of Calgary Arts Development staff and artist peers and community members. The membership of the peer assessment committee will be chosen through public nominations and staff expertise.

Peer assessors on the committee will remain anonymous, attending verbal presentations via Zoom, with their cameras off and their names obscured.

Anyone can ask to participate on a Calgary Arts Development assessment committee by completing the assessor nomination form or by emailing

Assessment Committees

Assessment committees are chosen to represent the broad diversity of Calgary and its artistic communities, including but not limited to: artistic discipline, gender, sexuality, age, religion, beliefs, nation, physical and neurological identities.

Committee Membership: Individual artists and arts workers with experience and knowledge from a variety of artistic disciplines and practices, who actively participate in, experience, and advocate for the work of the arts community.

Assessors are required to declare conflicts of interest according to the Conflict of Interest Policy. Calgary Arts Development thinks of conflicts of interest as close family members, people who are involved in the activity being applied for or where there is a real or perceived financial benefit. If in doubt, assessors are encouraged to talk with Calgary Arts Development staff. If a committee member has applied to the program or declared a conflict of interest, they will not assess those specific applications or be present for any discussions of those applications.

Committee members must review, understand, and adhere to the Terms of Reference, the program guidelines, and to Calgary Arts Development’s Group Agreements.

Assessment Process

Written Information: Calgary Arts Development staff will provide the peer committee with the written letter of intent in advance of the verbal presentation meetings. Additional background information such as organization mandate or descriptions of past programming may be included as context. Additional information will only be provided if available from public sources (such as website), through interim reporting, or with permission from the applicant.

Verbal Presentation: Meetings will be scheduled for 45 minutes. Committee members will listen to the presentations and ask follow-up questions through Calgary Arts Development staff, maintaining their anonymity. Further follow-up questions may be sent to applicants following their presentations.

Committee members will evaluate proposals according to the criteria outlined in the Program Criteria & Scoring section of the guidelines. Calgary Arts Development staff will download assessor evaluations into a scoresheet and assign numerical scores to the ratings. Each criteria statement will be weighted equally. The score assigned to each rating will be consistent across all criteria statements (e.g.: ‘Strongly Agree’ will always equal the same number of points). Calgary Arts Development staff will not score applications.

The committee will discuss applications in a meeting facilitated by the program specialist for arts organizations. The committee’s final scores will result in a list of organizations recommended for funding. Calgary Arts Development staff will review these recommendations and finalize the funding list. Partial funding may be allocated.

Calgary Arts Development reserves the right to adjust assessment processes and the program timeline due to application volume. Applicants and assessors will be notified if significant changes occur.

The equity priority groups identified for this program are Indigenous, Black, persons of colour, 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.

Calgary Arts Development has adapted these priorities and descriptions from from the Toronto Arts Council’s Equity Framework. We are grateful to the Toronto Arts Council for their work in this area.

Applicants will be notified of their results by email. Successful applicants will be sent an investment agreement via Docusign and are required to sign and return the agreement within 30 days of receiving it in order to receive funding.

Successful grantees will be required to complete a brief interim report in February 2023. This report will share an update on how the activities outlined in the proposal are proceeding, and how the funds have been allocated, even if they have not been fully expended. Grantees may choose to submit the interim report in writing, or through a meeting with the program specialist for arts organizations.

Since these funds are considered part of the organization’s overall operating grant for 2022, final reporting will occur during the 2023 operating grant cycle.

Please note that Calgary Arts Development staff are continuing to work remotely. If you have any questions about this program please contact Marta Ligocki, Specialist, Arts Organizations, at 403.264.5330 ext. 205 or

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