Guidelines: Original Peoples Investment Program

Guidelines: Original Peoples Investment Program

Applications Open: March 15, 2021
Application Deadline: Applications will be accepted until April 19, 2021 at 4:30pm MT
Notifications: Results will be sent out by late May 2021
Funds: Grant money will be released beginning in June 2021
Download Program Guidelines as a PDF

Applications must be submitted by the deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted. If you have any questions or need any help with completing an application please contact us as soon as possible so we can assist you with the process. We are expecting a large number of applications to the program so it would be great to get your application in early to be evaluated by the peer assessment committee, in case they have any additional questions about your application. Please see the Deadline Extension Policy for information about extensions.

Applications are accepted through the online grant interface. If this is your first time applying to Calgary Arts Development you will need to create a profile from the login page. If you have any questions or need assistance in setting up a profile or creating an application, please contact

Here in Treaty 7 territory, we have Blackfoot, Tsuu’tina, and Stoney Nakoda First Nations who are signatories of Treaty 7. Each of these First Nations have protocols specific to their culture and ways of knowing the world. We also have many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from across Canada who call Calgary (known as Mohkinsstsis in Blackfoot) home and each of these groups also have unique cultural protocols.

We recognize the importance of Elders, cultural knowledge, and the rights and ownership of that knowledge, including proper compensation. For our program, we consult on a regular basis with our indigenous advisory which is made up of local Treaty 7 Indigenous artists.

We recognize the rights of Indigenous artists and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), in particular Article 11 of UNDRIP.

Calgary Arts Development is committed to open, fair and transparent processes. We are here to answer your questions. While we may not be able to meet in person at the current moment, our team will be available to answer questions and offer support during the application process either over the phone, through email, or through the use of audio and video platforms.

Please 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 up to one week before application deadlines.

We will work one-on-one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their abilities and situations. Some examples of accommodations are:

  • Translation of written materials into other languages.
  • Transcription of verbal meetings or audio and video recordings into a written document.
  • Verbal video or audio applications. If you would prefer to answer the application questions verbally you can submit an audio or video recording of yourself or our staff can help record your responses using an online platform, such as Zoom.
  • Language interpretation for phone or video meetings (Note: This will depend on the availability of external service agencies).
  • Grant writing assistance if you need help.

You may be eligible for assistance to pay someone to help you complete an application if you need it or for any of the reasons listed below:

  • An artist who is Deaf, hard of hearing, has a disability or is living with a mental illness.
  • An artist facing language, geographic or cultural barriers.

Please contact Sable Sweetgrass at to inquire about application assistance.

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.
The Original Peoples Investment Program (OPIP) supports the preservation and revitalization of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) art through art-based projects that are supported and validated by FNMI artists, community, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers. We recognize and support both traditional and contemporary Indigenous artists and arts practices.

An applicant may only apply for one project or one phase of a project. This program cannot fund activities retroactively, meaning projects which will be fully completed before the deadline of April 19, 2021 are not eligible. Projects funded through this program should be done by July 31, 2022.

Total funding available for this program is $550,000. Applicants may apply for almost any expense related to their project.

  • Individual artists may apply for up to $15,000.
  • Artist collectives may apply for up to $20,000.
    • We consider an artistic collective to be two or more artists who work together in an ad hoc, casual, or informal way, who have equal and shared ownership and accountability for the success and completion of the proposed activities; A group which is not formally registered as a non-profit society, or which does not intend to govern itself like a non-profit society.
  • Non-profit arts organizations may apply for up to $25,000.
    • An arts organization is a company whose primary mandate is the creation, preservation, development, education, or sharing of artistic work. Organizations may be formally registered as non-profit societies or charities, or may operate as a community-based arts groups with ongoing programming and demonstrated governance and financial management.

This program will be assessed by a peer committee. Please see the assessment process below, and Terms of Reference for further information.

This program is open to any First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) artists and collectives and FNMI-led and FNMI-centred non-profit organizations practicing or operating in the Calgary region. It is also open to Treaty 7 First Nation artists practicing on reserve or operating within the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.

Artists who work in any artistic discipline may apply. Applicants should demonstrate a serious dedication to developing and sharing their artistic work, career, or organizational mandate. This program is not open to arts administrators or cultural workers. Please refer to the Investment Program FAQ for a glossary of terms and more information about eligibility.

We welcome applications from those working in all artistic disciplines and their various cultural forms, including but not limited to: circus arts; craft arts; community and social practice; curation; dance; Deaf/deaf arts; digital arts; disability arts; film; Indigenous arts; literature; media arts; multidisciplinary practice; music and sound; performance; theatre; and visual arts.

We will only accept one application per individual, collective, or organization. Individuals cannot be the main applicant or project lead for more than one application, but may be involved in more than one project. Success in this program does not affect your eligibility to apply to other Calgary Arts Development grant investment programs in 2021. You may not receive more than one grant from Calgary Arts Development for the same project or phase of a project.

This program provides one-time funding for almost any expense related to artistic projects. Projects must be complete by July 31, 2022.

Please note that the eligible and ineligible expenses listed below are given as examples but are not exclusive. If you have any questions about eligible expenses or how to budget for your project, please contact the program specialist.

Eligible Expenses:

  • Artist fees
  • Materials and supplies
  • Rental of equipment or space
  • Purchase of equipment up to $1,000 total
  • Professional fees (e.g.: publicity or marketing fees, contractor expenses)
  • Marketing
  • Licensing
  • Documentation
  • Travel expenses
  • Course fees for continuing education courses (non-credit granting programs)
  • Per diems and subsistence expenses, such as food, rent, child care, etc.
  • Accessibility expenses directly related to undertaking the project
  • Expenses related to protocol and ceremony

Ineligible Expenses:

  • Purchase of or financial contribution towards major pieces of equipment, land, or buildings over a total of $1,000.
  • Purchase of any equipment not directly related or relevant to the project.
  • Lost wages or salaries.
  • 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 or artistic work related to those educational programs.

Please review the Investment Program FAQ for further information about ineligible expenses or email

Applicants may apply to one of the following streams. It is possible that one or more points 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, and 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, and 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 have different needs. There will be separate peer assessment committees for each of these streams. Funding from the total pool will be split between each stream proportionally based on how many applicants apply to them.

Projects will be funded based on the following considerations:

Artistic Impact (35 points)
  • The applicant has demonstrated how they develop, preserve, or innovate in their artistic practice, discipline, or communities.
  • The proposed project is clearly described, compelling, and high quality, and the applicant has demonstrated how it aligns with their artistic practice.
  • The applicant has demonstrated clear reasons why this project will allow them to advance their goals, discipline, or communities.
Community Connection (35 points)
  • The applicant has demonstrated who they will connect with through this project, which may include artists, partners, audiences, volunteers, and participants.
  • The applicant has demonstrated how they will connect with their communities through this project.
  • The applicant has demonstrated why this project is important to their communities.
Planning (30 points)
  • The applicant has demonstrated clear and achievable goals for the project.
  • The applicant has demonstrated a clear understanding of what is required to complete the project (who they will work with, what it will cost, how much time it will take, and what tasks and activities are required).
  • The project has a clear, well-researched, and achievable timeline and budget.

The peer assessment committee will use a scoring matrix to evaluate each criteria according to the information requested and provided in the application.

Artistic Impact & Community Connection
Weak/Fair Good Exceptional
1 – 25 26 – 32 33 – 35
Weak/Fair Good Exceptional
1 – 17 18 – 27 28 – 30


  • Responses to application questions are clear, relevant, and directly address the criteria of the program.
  • The applicant demonstrates a deep understanding of their role in their communities or artistic discipline.
  • The application provides a clear and detailed description and plan for the project.
  • The application creates overwhelming trust and confidence that the project will be completed as described, and that the applicant will reach their goals.


  • Responses to application questions are sufficient and address the criteria of the program.
  • The applicant demonstrates a general understanding of their role in their communities or artistic discipline.
  • The application provides a sufficient description and plan for the project.
  • The application creates trust that the project will be completed as described, and that the applicant will reach their goals.


  • Responses to application are limited or insufficient and do not address the criteria of the program.
  • The applicant does not demonstrate a clear understanding of their role in their communities or artistic discipline.
  • The application does not provide enough information about the project or their plans.
  • The application does not provide evidence to create trust and confidence that the project will be completed as described, and that the applicant will achieve their goals.

Applications to the Original Peoples Investment Program will be read and scored by FNMI artist peer committees. The program specialist and Calgary Arts Development staff will select one committee for the new voices stream and one committee for the next steps stream.

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

Membership of each committee is designed to create context, understanding and respect for artistic discipline, gender, sexuality, age, religion, beliefs, First Nation, physical and neurological identities etc.

  • Seven-member committee for each stream.
  • Representation from Blackfoot, Tsuu’tina, Stoney Nakoda, Métis, Inuit, and other First Nations.
  • Representation from Two Spirit, transgender, and Indigiqueer peoples.
  • Representation across artistic disciplines and practices.
  • Artist Peers: These will be from a variety of artistic disciplines and practices and can also include arts workers with experience and knowledge in the arts community for example, staff, volunteers, board members, etc.
  • Arts Champions and Artistic Community Members: These are people who actively participate in, experience, and advocate for the work of the arts community. They may also have perspectives and skill-sets transferable to the arts sector.
  • If a committee member has submitted an application to the program, they will assess the other stream. (e.g.: If they submitted an application to the next steps stream, they will assess new voices stream).
  • Committee members will not assess their own application, or applications where they have declared a conflict of interest (e.g.: close family members, if they are working on the project being applied for, or where there is a real or perceived financial benefit, etc.).

Assessment committees will read and score applications in the online granting interface according to the program criteria and scoring matrix, and then discuss each application and make final funding decisions in a meeting facilitated by the specialist for Indigenous programs. Assessment committees are held to the Terms of Reference and Group Agreements intended to commit to open, generous, and respectful conversations.

Please see the Disclosure of Grant Information Policy for information about how Calgary Arts Development collects and uses information submitted through grant applications.

Calgary Arts Development has begun collecting voluntary demographic information from applicants to investment programs. These questions are an important part of Calgary Arts Development’s aim to increase understanding, at an aggregate level, of the individuals seeking funding, while providing the arts sector with much needed data on the demographics of its workforce.

Completion of the demographic questions is not required, and is being collected on a voluntary basis. You are not required to complete these questions, and you can choose which questions not to answer as there is a “prefer not to answer” option for each.

Your responses to these questions:

  • Are voluntary.
  • Will remain anonymous.
  • Will not be provided to assessors.
  • Will only be visible to program staff.
  • Will only be shared in combination with many other responses (in aggregate form).
  • Will not be connected to you personally.
  • Will not be saved to your applicant profile in the grant interface.

This application may be submitted entirely in writing, or using a combination of written documents and audio or video links.

The specialist for Indigenous programs can assist with both recording and uploading video or audio files to the application until one week before the deadline. Please make an appointment if you would like assistance and reach out as early as you can to ensure they can provide the best support possible. Please note that due to ongoing shifts to health restrictions and guidance, in-person support may not be possible, for your safety and ours.

The Investment Program FAQ includes answers to common questions, definitions of terms, and some helpful suggestions. It may be helpful to review these as well as the program criteria as you work through your application.

Written Sections
  • Project Name
  • Contact Information (name, address, phone, email)
  • Program Stream (new voices or next steps)
  • Artistic Discipline (self-defined)
  • Funding Request
  • Project Description (up to 6000 characters)
  • Project Plan and Timeline
  • Budget (Standard Template, 2MB)
  • Support Material (up to four upload fields, maximum 3MB each, video and audio material should be provided as a link)
Written, Audio, or Video Selections

The below questions may be answered either in writing, or through a video or audio recording no more than 10 minutes long. Applicants may select someone they trust to speak on their behalf if they do not feel comfortable being recorded.

Audio or video files cannot be directly uploaded to the granting interface. Instead, they must be uploaded to a file sharing site such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Dropbox with the link provided in the application. If the link requires a password to access the audio or video file, please provide that in your application as well. Written responses may be a maximum of 10,000 characters.

  • What does it mean for you to be an Indigenous artist (or for organizations, to represent an Indigenous arts perspective or 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 artistic practice. What is the work you create, and why is it important to you? How do you approach the creation of your work?
  • 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 collaboration, mentorship, discussions, forums, participatory activities, workshops, artist talk-backs, audience experience, etc.

Applicants will be notified of their results by email. Successful applicants will be required to sign and return an investment agreement within 30 days after receiving notification of success in order to receive funding.

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

We’re interested in hearing what you did, how the grant benefitted your practice and what you learned through the process. We will ask you to report this back to us through a final report online, due 90 days after your final activity. The final report will ask you to:

  • Upload a new budget that shows how the grant funds were spent. (2MB) Please keep receipts and invoices for tax purposes, and you may also be asked to provide them.
  • Describe your experience of completing the project or activity. Did you achieve your artistic goals? Did anything change from your original proposal (4,000 characters maximum)?
  • Briefly describe what impact this funding made on your sense of community (4,000 characters maximum).
  • Optional: Additional comments you would like to share with Calgary Arts Development (4,000 characters maximum).
  • Optional: Please share any materials that resulted from your activities, such as images, website links, video or audio material, written samples, etc. (up to four upload fields, maximum 3MB each, video and audio material should be provided as a link).

Successful applicants may also be asked to participate in optional surveys, research, and peer-to-peer learning. Please contact with any questions about reporting requirements. 

Please note that Calgary Arts Development staff are continuing to work remotely. If you have any questions about this program please review the Investment Program FAQ or contact Sable Sweetgrass, Specialist, Indigenous Programs at or 403.264.5330 ext. 220.

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