Guidelines: Operating Grant Program

Guidelines: Operating Grant Program

Basic Reporting Final Deadline: March 31, 2019, 4:30pm MST
OG+ Deadline:
June 28, 2019, 4:30pm MST * UPDATED*
OG+ Applications Open:
April 22, 2019

Download the Full Program Guidelines as a PDF UPDATED April 29, 2019

If you require any accommodations that would allow you to fairly access this process, please contact 403.476.2031 or email

For more details see the Accommodation and Accessibly section below. If you have questions or concerns, see the Investment Program FAQs and Application Checklist.

Program Overview

The goal of the Operating Grant Program is to ensure that Calgary arts organizations have the opportunity to excel and strategically achieve their mandates with a stable base of resources.

Funding & Timeframe:

All organizations funded through the 2018 Operating Grant Program (or transferring in from the 2015 Cornerstone Program) will have their investment agreements extended through to 2022 and will receive their 2018 amount with the submission of Basic Reporting (see section below).

Additional funding opportunities for 2020, 2021, and 2022 will be available, with full guidelines published closer to those dates (see Operating Grant Program Four-Year Overview section below).

In 2019, current Operating Grant recipients have the option of applying for an additional one-year increase to their 2018 funding levels through the OG+ sub-program:

  • Total OG+ funding pool and stream allocation will be announced pending the results of the City-Builder Program (see City-Builder Program Guidelines for more information).
  • Application and streams focused on one of the four following areas of operation:
    • Create/Develop
    • Program/Present
    • Strategy/Capacity
    • Relationships/Community

OG+ Process Overview:

  • Questionnaire included in basic reporting form (online)
  • Online application
  • Specific criteria for every stream (see OG+ Assessment Process Section below)
  • Peer-led jury process

Notification of OG+ Results: September 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

The Operating Grant Program invests annually in non-profit organizations with year-round, arts-driven operations, prioritizing organizations that demonstrate high artistic impact, public impact, and organizational resiliency.

Organizations may allocate these operational funds to any areas of their overall budgets.

Operating Grant Program Four-Year Overview

In 2018 City Council granted a transformational increase to Calgary Arts Development’s overall budget. A significant portion of this funding has been allocated to our operational funding pool (City-Builder, Operating Grant, and Organizational Access Programs), acknowledging that this type of support is a key driver for the success of the arts sector and its contribution to the vitality of the entire city.

Organizations funded through the Operating Grant Program in 2018 (and those transferring from the 2015 Cornerstone Program) will receive their 2018 funding levels upon the submission of basic reporting in Q1 2019. This base-level of funding will be provided in the same manner and general timeline in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Updated investment agreements will be sent to all Operating Grant cohort organizations to reflect these changes.

Additionally, organizations funded through the 2019 Organizational Access Program will become part of the overall Operating Grant program cohort in 2020.

The following opportunities for additional funding to base-levels will be available to the Operating Grant cohort over the four-year cycle*:

  • OG+
    • Completely optional.
    • A sub-program that provides optional additional funding to base-levels for one year (i.e. it doesn’t carry over to the next).
    • Can be applied for and received every year from 2019 through 2022.
    • Full details below.
  • Three-year Top-Up
    • Completely optional.
    • Provides additional funding to base-levels that carries over for three years, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
    • Applications submitted and assessed in 2020.
    • Can receive this funding in addition to OG+.
    • Full application process and guidelines to be published Q4 2019/Q1 2020.

*Note that both of these programs and timelines are subject to change pending Calgary Arts Development’s program review process and our ongoing discussions with the sector.

OG+ Overview

This sub-program reflects our belief and trust in the organizations we provide with operational funding to identify focus areas that will create conditions for them to thrive and to maximize their contribution to the city’s overall vitality. We also recognize that in addition to a stable-base of funding, it is helpful to have access to additional short-term funding to allow organizations to be responsive to change situations and circumstances.

Therefore OG+ is intended to be a flexible responsive platform for the Operating Grant cohort to strategically address challenges and opportunities that will create conditions for them to thrive.

Applicants to OG+ must speak to a particular focus area and a proposed initiative or set of activities that represents the greatest opportunity for their organization. Think of this as a project-style grant that offers operational funding that can still go to any part of an overall budget.

Keep in mind that this is not necessarily about proposing a completely new initiative or making extra work for your organization—you should also think about ongoing challenges or opportunities that you have been able to address previously.

OG+ Streams & Criteria

Note that OG+ will not be assessed using the previous 2018 streams, meaning that applicants may be assessed alongside organizations that might be community or professional, and from different artistic disciplines, operational models, and sizes of budget.

Therefore it is especially important for your application to define what each of the follow criteria means for your own specific context and mandate.


  • Artistic Impact: The artistic potential of the work being created, including the effectiveness, rigor and depth of the development processes.
  • Opportunity: The potential benefit of this work for the organization within the context of its mandate and goals.
  • Planning: How effective, researched, thoughtful, and feasible the plan and timeline for creation/development are.


  • Artistic Impact: The artistic value of the experience being shared, including its potential to further the organization’s artistic goals or contribute to a related artistic discipline or community.
  • Public Impact: How clearly the applicant has identified and understands their public, and how meaningfully, intentionally and thoughtfully the applicant proposes to engage with them through the proposed initiative or activities.
  • Planning: How effective, researched, thoughtful, and feasible the plan and timeline for the proposed initiative or activities are.


  • Challenging Assumptions: How effectively the organization is questioning specifics of how and why it operates (or creates or shares work) in order to adapt to a challenge or opportunity.
  • Evaluation: The quality of the processes and methodologies the organization will use to gauge the success or failure of the proposed initiative or activities, as well as how it will frame new learnings as a result.
  • Planning: How effective, researched, thoughtful, and feasible the plan and timeline for the proposed initiative or activities are.


  • Public Impact: How clearly the applicant has identified and understands their public, and how meaningfully, intentionally and thoughtfully the applicant proposes to engage with them through the proposed initiative or activities.
  • Opportunity: The potential benefit of developing these relationships for the organization (within the context of its mandate and goals).
  • Planning: How effective, researched, thoughtful, and feasible the plan and timeline for the proposed initiative or activities are.

OG+: Who Can Apply

  • Organizations funded through the 2018 Operating Grant Program.
  • Organizations transferring from the 2015 Cornerstone Program.
  • Organizations transferring from the 2019 Organizational Access Program in 2020.

Basic Reporting

Instructions for submitting through the online granting interface will be sent out to all organizations in the Operating Grant Program cohort in Q1 of 2019. Basic reporting may be submitted at any time after this point and up to the final deadline on March 31, 2019.

  • 2019 Standard Programming List (XLX, XLXS)
  • 2019 Standard Statistical Form (XLX, XLXS) or CADAC equivalent
  • 2019 Standard Financial Form (XLX, XLXS) or CADAC equivalent
  • Most recent Financial Statements: Applicants must include a Statement of Operations (1), Balance Sheet (2), 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.
  • Intention to apply to OG+ (Y/N).
  • If applying to OG+, what stream? (Create/Develop, Program/Present, Strategy/Capacity, Relationships/Community) Note that this does not have to be your final decision, and is intended to help program staff plan the assessment process.
  • Statement of Resiliency (only applicable to organizations flagged for resiliency in 2018, see Fair Notice Policy).
  • 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).

Base-levels of funding will be released for each organization once Basic Reporting has been submitted and approved by program staff.

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

OG+ Assessment Process

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

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

  • Five-member assessment committee per stream.
  • 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

Applications will only be accepted online through Calgary Arts Development’s grant interface. Please see the above Equity Statement for information on accessibility and accommodation needs.

New users must set up an account to access the interface. For instructions on how to use the online grant interface, please refer to the Granting Interface Questions in our Investment Program FAQ.

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 note that anonymized application information from both successful and unsuccessful applications may be used for program evaluation and research purposes.

OG+ Application Checklist

  • Amount Requested (There is no maximum level of request, but first consider what you realistically need and the amount of funding available in the overall pool, which will be published after the City-Builder Program is complete.)
  • Proposal describing what initiative or activities you’re applying for and why. Refer to the OG+ Streams & Criteria section for specific sets of questions you should consider (max 600 words).
  • Proposal Plan detailing how you are going to undertake the initiative or activities you’re applying for (max 600 words).
  • Proposal Timeline including key milestones and targets (upload in XLX, XLXS, DOC, DOCX or PDF only).
  • 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.

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 in September 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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