Guidelines: Original Peoples Investment Program

Guidelines: Original Peoples Investment Program

Deadline: March 11, 2019, 4:30pm MST
Applications Open:
January 25, 2019

Download the Full Program Guidelines as a PDF

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 Accessibility section below. If you have questions or concerns, see the Frequently Asked Questions and Application Checklist at the end of these guidelines.

Program Overview

The Original Peoples* Investment Program (OPIP) supports the preservation and revitalization of First Nation/Métis/Inuit (FNMI) art through arts-based projects and activities that are supported and validated by FNMI artists, community, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers.

Apply for up to $10,000 to cover almost any expense related to the project or initiative (full details in Expenses section below). Total funding available is $400,000.

Two Streams: 1) New Voices 2) Next Steps (full details in Stream section below)

Who Can Apply: First Nation/Métis/Inuit artists and collectives (demonstrating a serious dedication to artistic practice and at all stages of career), and FNMI-lead organizations, all primarily practicing/operating in the Calgary/Mohkintsis area, working in any artistic discipline (traditional and/or contemporary or other). We will only accept one application per person, and one application for a single project.

Selection Process:

  • Criteria: Artistic Impact, Community Connection, Planning.
  • Everyone who applies has the option of being part of the open FNMI-lead community circle selection process for deciding which projects/activities get funding.
  • Multi-day Community Circles in mid-April 2019.
  • Support and guidance from non-voting FNMI Elders and Knowledge Keepers.

Notification of Results: Late April 2019

*The name for this program was chosen by our Indigenous Artist Advisory to honour and acknowledge the people who have always called this land home.

Program Information

Calgary Arts Development staff engaged an Indigenous consultant to lead a process with an Indigenous Artist Advisory Committee and Elders to develop recommendations and an outline of an arts funding program that will support FNMI artists and build a positive relationship with the Indigenous community.

Calgary Arts Development aspires to:

  • Develop authentic relationships with the Indigenous community living within and in the surrounding areas of Calgary.
  • Understand how to incorporate Indigenous teachings, values and ways of knowing into a framework for program design that will guide future work with Indigenous communities, artists and art.
  • Build trust by engaging Indigenous artists throughout the process of program design and implementation.
  • Deliver programs that that are mutually validated, by both the Indigenous community and by Calgary Arts Development.

This program works towards the following broad goals:

  • Indigenous arts and cultures are supported and enhanced as living cultures.
  • Through a better understanding and representation of Indigenous arts, more non-FNMI Calgarians will honour Indigenous artists and their stories.
  • Indigenous artists and communities are provided meaningful and sustainable supports in their efforts to share, celebrate and educate about Indigenous arts and cultures.

At this point in time OPIP will only be accepting one round of applications for 2019, after which the program outcomes and process will be evaluated by Calgary Arts Development along with the FNMI community so that future iterations will remain effective and responsive to the needs of FNMI artists.


Applicants must apply to one of the following streams. It is possible that one or more characteristics that define a stream do not apply to your situation, in that case choose the best fit:

  • New Voices:
    • I have completed the basic training/development/learning necessary to begin sharing my art seriously.
    • I am seeking opportunities to develop a mature artistic practice.
    • I am only beginning to create relationships with other serious artists in my communities.
    • I would like more experience in things like project planning and budgeting.
    • I would like the mentorship of a more experienced artist or organization.
  • Next Steps:
    • I have experienced some successes and recognition for my artistic practice that I would like to build off of.
    • I have confidence in the techniques/concepts/execution of my artistic practice but have room to grow.
    • I feel that I have something to offer as a mentor to other artists or organizations.

These streams are intended to acknowledge and value that artists all exist at different stages in their own practice and therefore have different needs. For this reason, there will be separate selection circles for each of these streams, with funding from the total pool allocated to each based upon how many apply to either and the amount of total funding requests.

Program Criteria

Projects/activities will be funded based on the following considerations:

  • Artistic Impact: The artistic quality of the project/activity, its potential to advance the applicant’s artistic practice and/or goals, and its potential to meaningfully contribute to related artistic forms.
  • Public Impact: How meaningfully, intentionally, and thoughtfully you propose to engage with audiences, participants, or communities with whom you make, share, or develop your work and/or artistic practice.
  • Community Connection*: How meaningfully, intentionally, and thoughtfully applicants will engage with audiences, participants, or communities that experience the project/activity.
  • Planning: How reasonable the plan for the project/activity is, including timeline, budget and the applicant’s ability to undertake it.

*Your project/activity does not necessarily have to focus on “community engagement.” We acknowledge that not all artistic practices involve public participation or discussion. If this is the case for you, think about what it means for you to be an artist and share your work, and what that means for your sense of community.

Selection Process

Important: Participation is completely optional for all applicants, but encouraged.

IF you want to apply and would like to take part in the selection process:

  1. Select “YES” on the Selection Process question in the online application before submitting.
  2. We will contact you to confirm your participation and commitment to attend all scheduled* days of the Community Circle for your stream (*Note: We will do our best to confirm dates with enough time for applicants to plan to attend, but we may not be able to accommodate all schedules).
  3. Review applications through the online granting tool in the time between the application deadline and the Community Circle.
  4. Attend the Community Circle, where applicants meet and have the option to speak to their projects in-person, ask questions, share perspectives and collectively decide who receives funding.

IF you want to apply but do not want to take part in the selection process:

  1. Select “NO” on the Selection Process question in the online application before submitting.

All participants of the Community Circle selection process are expected to:

  • Honour the Group Agreements for the Community Circle (below).
  • Review all applications assigned to them prior to the Community Circle for their stream*.
  • Attend all days of the Community Circle for their stream.
  • Sign a Conflict of Interest declaration (to be sent out all applicants shortly after the program deadline). For more information see the Conflict of Interest Policy).

*No applicant may review or vote on their own application or that of a project/activity they are involved with.

All participants of the Community Circle selection process will be paid for their participation:

  • $7.50 per application reviewed in advance of the Community Circle (calculated at 30 minutes per application).
  • $15/hr for participation in the Community Circle days (calculated at eight hours per day).

Fees will be paid out to participants after the full Selection Process has been completed.

Group Agreements
  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 FNMI 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.
Proposed Community Circle Format (flexible)
  • Opening prayers lead by Elders.
  • Review Group Agreements and guidelines for safe space and conduct.
  • Five minutes for every applicant to make an oral presentation speaking to the following (optional):
    • Introduce yourself and your artistic practice.
    • Briefly describe the project/activity and what you think is important about it.
  • Five minutes per application for the rest of the Community Circle to ask questions.
  • An open, positive and appreciative discussion shared by all assessing applicants, Elders and Calgary Arts Development staff around the following:
    • Which applications really stood out and why.
    • Any questions, ideas or concerns.
  • Any and all applicants participating in the selection process vote on which projects they would fund within the overall budget. Program staff will ensure that how each individual votes will be kept confidential—only the overall outcomes of voting will be shared to the larger group.
  • Calgary Arts Development staff compile and tabulate results of voting.
  • Results of voting are shared back to the Community Circle and the funding list is finalized and confirmed before the end of the meeting*.
  • Closing prayers lead by Elders.
  • Opportunity for discussion around the overall process and outcomes (optional).

*Applicants will be notified of results within a week of the final Community Circle day.

Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the Indigenous community will be invited by Calgary Arts Development to provide a voice around ceremony, protocol and traditional knowledge and ways of knowing:

  • Elders will be invited to read applications and participate in all discussions, but will not participate in the voting process.
  • The role of the Elders will be to act as a supportive and validating presence for all applicants and to provide wisdom and guidance towards the broad outcomes of the program.

How to Apply

Applications will mainly be accepted through Calgary Arts Development’s online granting tool, unless an applicant requires a different accommodation to access the process fairly. Calgary Arts Development staff are available upon request to offer technical assistance at any stage of the application process, including help to create documentation.

To access the online granting tool and create a draft:

→ Click “Grant Login” on top right of this page

→ Log in or create account

→ Click “Apply”

→ Click “Original Peoples Investment Program” to open a draft application

→ Scroll to bottom and click “save draft”

Once a draft has been saved, you can access the application from your dashboard when you log in.

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 Extension Policy for more information.

Eligible Expenses

Applicants may use this grant for almost any expense related to their project/activity, including but not limited to:

  • Expenses related to the development, creation, production, or distribution of artistic work, such as supplies, fees for contractors, venue or studio rental, event hospitality, operations, salaries etc.
  • Expenses related to professional development, such as travel, mentor fees or honorariums, tuition for stand-alone courses or workshops, or per diems etc.
  • Artist fees.
  • Subsistence expenses, such as food, rent, child care, transportation fees etc.

Artists may not use this grant for the below ineligible expenses:

  • Purchase of major pieces of equipment over $500 (capital costs).
  • Tuition or any expenses (including room, board, travel, transportation, etc.) intended to allow access to post-secondary degree or credit granting educational programs or study.

Please contact the Community Investment Team if you have any questions about eligible expenses.

Application: Who am I? Why am I? Where am I?

Applicants may answer the core questions of the application in either of the following ways:

  • Written Response: Entered directly into the provided area of the online granting interface or uploaded as a text document (900 words max, upload DOC, DOCX, PDF, 2MB).
  • Oral Response:
    • Audio or video.
    • 10 minutes of you (or someone else you feel comfortable speaking on your behalf) answering the questions below—keep in mind this is not meant to be an opportunity to perform or showcase your work.
    • Must be attached to application as a private YouTube link with password.
    • Calgary Arts Development staff will be on hand to support with both recording and uploading to application by appointment up until one week before the deadline.

Core Questions:

  • What does it mean for you to be an Indigenous artist (or for organizations, to represent an Indigenous arts perspective/identity)?
  • How do you think about your sense of connection and relationship to Indigenous community and the land, and what does it mean to you?
  • Describe your project and how it relates to the above, as well as your own artistic goals.
  • Describe the opportunities for relationship-building created by your project, including but not limited to mentorship, discussions, forums, participatory activities, workshops, artist talk-backs, audience experience, etc.

Other required information:

  • Contact Information (name, address, phone, email)
  • Artistic Discipline (self-defined)
  • Description of Artistic Practice. Describe what your work looks like and what is important about it to you (300 words max). Try to connect to the criteria and the main questions below. You have the option of including a list of relevant experiences related to your practice (artist CV or resume, upload DOC, DOCX, PDF, 2MB).
  • Funding Request (up to $10,000)
  • Outline a planned timeline of your project/activity, including start and end dates of each activity, a brief description of the activity and any other important milestones. Overall projects must be completed in 2019. Can be written directly into online application form or as an uploaded document (acceptable file types: DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, 2MB)
  • Budget (Must use standard template, upload XLS, XLSX, PDF, 2MB)
  • Optional Support Material 1 (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JPG or link 4MB)
  • Optional Support Material 2 (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JPG or link 4MB)
  • Optional Support Material 3 (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JPG or link 4MB)
  • Optional Support Material 4 (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JPG or link 4MB)

Note: Use Support Material creatively to show or describe important things that don’t fit into the main application. If you need help documenting your work contact us!

Accommodation and Accessibility

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

Conditions of Grant and Reporting

Applicants will be notified of their results by email (if another form of communication is ideal for you please reach out to us directly). Successful applicants will be required to sign and return an Investment Agreement 30 days after receiving notification of success in order to receive funding.

Calgary Arts Development will provide a T4A to applicants that are individual artists, or who are representing a group of artists who are not registered as non-profits for the grant amount. For information about tax requirements for artist grants, please consult the CRA guidelines.

A Final Report will be due 30 days after the completion of the applicant’s final activity.

  • Upload a budget with actuals. Please keep receipts and invoices as you may be asked to provide them (upload DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PDF, 2MB).
  • Describe your experience of completing the project/activity. Did you achieve your artistic goals? Did anything change from your original proposal (200 words)?
  • Briefly describe what impact this funding made on your sense of community (200 words).
  • Additional comments you would like to share with Calgary Arts Development (400 words).
  • Support Material 1 (upload DOC, DOCX, JPG, XLS, XLSX, PDF, or link, 4MB)
  • Support Material 2 (upload DOC, DOCX, JPG, XLS, XLSX, PDF, or link, 4MB)
  • Support Material 3 (upload DOC, DOCX, JPG, XLS, XLSX, PDF, or link, 4MB)
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 and the Frequently Asked Questions below 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

 How to Design Your Application

Before you begin writing your application, consider the below questions:

  • What is important to you?
    • Consider your artistic goals. What do you need, beyond funding, to achieve those goals? Why are those activities, tasks, skills, relationships etc. important to you?
  • What is feasible for you?
    • If you receive this funding, what activities will you be able to realistically and meaningfully complete?
  • What don’t you know?
    • Don’t be afraid to be honest about the challenges or barriers you might experience in your career as an artist or in your artistic practice. An appreciative self-awareness will allow you to identify any blind spots, or areas you need to invest in, such as professional or artistic development, experimentation, or risk-taking.
  • Who are your communities?
    • Who is the audience for your work? It could be people who share the same goals or values, people who engage with or see your work, or people who work in your artistic community. Defining your public will allow you to best understand what it means to have an impactful relationship with them.

Q: I’m having difficulty deciding whether to apply to either the New Voices or Next Steps streams.

While there is no right or wrong choice, the best one reflects how you honestly feel about where you are with your art right now, and what you think is the most effective context for appreciating it.

It was important when designing this program to not make artists try to force themselves into arbitrary definitions or hierarchies that do not reflect all of the complexity and nuance that goes into considering how you feel about the state of your practice or career.

For that reason, we do not consider one stream to be more excellent or prestigious, but we do recognize that what opportunity looks like will be different depending on factors like experience and how often you’ve had the chance to present.

Q: Should I apply for $10,000? Will I have a better chance of success if I ask for less?

Usually, your planning will not be as strong if you start at $10,000 and work backwards. Instead, we encourage applicants to first think about a project that will fall within the general range of under $10,000. Imagine how you think the project would run ideally, and then build your budget off of that.

If you go over $10,000 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.

Q: What if I am involved in more than one project that is applying to this program?

We will only accept one application per person, per project. If you are involved in other projects that are also applying, other individuals must take the responsibility for those projects. In all cases, if you are involved in any project you are not allowed to vote for it (even if it is one where you’re not the main applicant).

Q: Can I apply for a project or initiative that will have started before the deadline for this program?

We will accept applications for projects or initiatives so long as the planned activities are less than half-finished by the time of the program deadline. We will not consider projects or initiatives that have taken place before the deadline.

Q: Why does there need to be a criterion for Community Connection, when many applicants will apply with individual and personal projects?

In our discussions with our Indigenous Artist Advisory a common theme was around the power of community to heal. While we know that many artistic practices may not necessarily put a primary focus on community engagement, we want to open a conversation for every application to say what community means for them, and how they think their art contributes to that community.

Q: What is being done to ensure that the Selection Process is unbiased and fair?

Our program staff do our utmost to maintain fair, open and transparent assessment processes and have a lot of experience, skill sets and tools to help us. The important thing to remember is that it is up to everyone in the room to be responsible for declaring conflicts of interest, checking in with personal biases and maintaining collective agreements around respect and deep listening.

To do your part make sure that you are bringing trust into the room by sharing how you think and feel, and in turn trusting the people around you to hold-space safely and help you check in with your own biases in a productive and positive way.

Q: I don’t feel comfortable using the written application and I also don’t feel comfortable standing in front of a group of people or a camera for an oral submission. How can I still apply?

We are open to you choosing someone else to speak on your behalf in the oral submission. If you are having trouble finding someone willing to do this for you, we can help (provided you give us a lot of notice). The ultimate responsibility for your application will still be yours, so it will be up to you to ensure that you adequately prepare any helpers to speak on your behalf.

Q: What if I want to participate in the Community Circle selection process but I don’t feel comfortable speaking in public?

You are not required to speak in the Community Circle. Listening deeply and voting is acceptable. Similar to the above, if you want to choose someone else to speak to your project/activity in the Community Circle let us know and we will make those arrangements. Keep in mind that they will only be allowed to be present when it’s time to speak to your application and they will not be allowed to vote for you.

Q: Can I apply with the intention of partnering with a non-Indigenous or non-FNMI artist or organization?

Yes! This program is about forging and strengthening connections between everyone who lives in Treaty 7. That being said, we are only allowing FNMI artists and organizations to be the main applicants.

Q: What if my project/activity costs more than the maximum amount I can request from this program ($10,000 CAD)?

You will have to show how you will fund the remaining expenses, either through fundraising, other grants or sponsorships, or your own personal money. It is okay if you are applying for additional funding outside of this program, but it won’t be confirmed before the deadline. If you do as much as you can to show that you’ve done the proper planning, the Community Circle will be asked to make decisions based on the assumption that you have any additional expenses covered.

Q: Can I use the funding for tuition for a workshop, training course, residency, etc.?

Yes, so long as you can directly link those experiences to your project/activity. The only tuition or course fees we will not fund are for post-secondary degree-granting programs.

Q: Do I need to pay taxes on this grant?

If you are an individual or representing a group of artists that is not registered as a non-profit, Calgary Arts Development is required to issue a T4A Form for the full amount you receive from this program.

Under the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, only the amount of money that you pay yourself from the grant amount is taxable as income. In order to show that the remaining grant amount was spent on materials, rentals, paying other artists, etc., you should track all of your expenses, keep your receipts, and have written proof of payment to artists. If you have any questions about how to track your expenses, please let us know.

Q: If an application is incomplete or is missing information, will it still be accepted?

If we can see that information is missing because of a mistake or a simple omission, we will usually follow up with you and give you chance to make adjustments.

Q: Am I allowed to apply if I’m under 18 years-old?

We will accept applications from artists under the age of 18 so long as, a) they have the explicit consent and approval of their legal guardians, and b) they are practicing their art at a serious level and can therefore be responsible for participating in the full application process.

Q: Will the information in my grant application be made public?

Information provided in both successful and unsuccessful grant applications may be used in Calgary Arts Development program evaluation and reporting. Information shared when reporting in these ways will be anonymized and only shared in aggregate. No personal information provided in grant applications will ever be shared publicly without your prior applicant consent.

Application Checklist

Project Planning

  • Project timeline (important dates, milestones, deadlines)
  • Budget
    • Revenues minus expenses equal zero
    • Notes section (break down calculations, cite quotes on major expenses, additional revenues confirmed or pending)
  • Finalize project plan (make sure information in grant request, questions, timeline, budget and support material align)

Online Application

  • Core questions answered
    • Written response, OR
    • Oral response
      • Recorded, uploaded to YouTube
      • Private YouTube link included in application
  • Timeline and Budget uploaded
  • Support Material uploaded
  • Indicate participation in Selection Circle (Y/N)
  • Click “Submit” on online application

Selection Circle

  • Conflict of Declaration form filled out and submitted to program staff
  • Selection Circle dates
    • Scheduled in calendar and attendance confirmed with program staff
  • Applications read and reviewed online before Selection Circle

Download the Full Program Guidelines as a PDF

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