Guidelines: Short-Term Artist Relief Fund Guidelines

Guidelines: Short-Term Artist Relief Fund Guidelines

Application Deadline: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis up to April 30, 2020 or until funds are depleted.
Application Assessment: Applications will be assessed weekly. The cut off for applications to be included in that week’s assessment is Wednesday at 12:00pm MDT.
Notification of Results: Notifications will be sent up to two weeks after submission of your application.
Funds Released: Approximately one to two weeks after the receipt of a signed investment agreement.

Download guidelines as a PDF

Applicants may request up to $1,500. We will only accept one application per individual to this program. Receipt of support from this relief fund does not affect any individual’s eligibility to apply to other Calgary Arts Development grant investment programs in 2020.

Important Update

Applications for this program were closed as of the first assessment cut off date—12:00pm MDT, Wednesday, April 8—due to overwhelming demand greater than the funds available.

All eligible applications received by the stated cut off for the first assessment cycle were assessed according to the published criteria and process. 133 artists were funded to a total of $170,547.17. Elephant Artist Relief also received a grant of $30,000 to distribute through their individual artist relief funds.

As the entire available pool has been distributed, we will be unable to reopen the application process for this program. We acknowledge that the impact on our community due to COVID-19 is high and while we cannot support all eligible applicants, we will continue to advocate to ensure artists are supported in other ways with other levels of government funding. Please visit our COVID-19 information page for information about alternate resources.


Program Overview

The Short-Term Artist Relief Fund is a temporary one-time program to help address some of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists in Calgary (known as Mohkinstsis in Blackfoot).

This fund is intended to support artists and freelance cultural workers who have lost income or incurred unrecoverable expenses, related to their artistic work, due to event cancellations or travel disruption.

For this program, we are accepting applications from individual artists working in any artistic discipline, at any stage of practice, who pursue a professional practice in Calgary. We have also chosen to open this particular program to include cultural workers based in Calgary, who have also been severely impacted by event cancellations or travel disruptions.

For the purposes of this program, cultural workers refers to professionals who make their living in the arts and cultural sector on a freelance, gig, event or short-term contract basis such as designers, dramaturgs, stage managers, technicians, and production crews. This does not include arts administrators, event hospitality workers, or individuals who are on salaried or full-time, permanent contracts.

As Alberta Health Services called for events over 250 people to be cancelled as of March 12, we will accept applications to replace lost revenues or unrecoverable expenses for events related to artistic work which were meant to occur between March 12 to April 30, 2020. Applicants to this fund will need to provide documentation and proof of cancellation or travel disruption and proof of lost income or unrecoverable incurred expenses during this time period. Please note that financial losses due to the postponement or rescheduling of events or any non-arts related work are not eligible at this time.

This funding is intended to provide short-term immediate relief for artists and cultural workers, particularly those that are the most vulnerable. If you have access to alternative funding, aid or financial support, such as Employment Insurance (EI), or the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), please take this into consideration before applying.

The fewer demands there are for this fund, the more we will be able to quickly distribute to those in most need of immediate financial assistance.

Please visit our COVID-19 information and resource page for a list of other funding opportunities and supports, updated regularly.

We recognize that not all artists will meet the criteria for this program due to the time period and allowable claims. We also recognize that artists may require support for unexpected circumstances unrelated to COVID-19. To ensure that artists continue to have access to emergency support on an ongoing basis, we have granted Elephant Artist Relief $30,000 for their emergency relief and rebound funds. Please visit their website at for more information about eligibility and program criteria.

Commitment to Equity

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.

To participate in this program means you share a vision of a city where all artists have the freedom, agency, and platform to share and amplify their stories, art, cultures, and experiences. We ask that our partner organizations and stakeholders are mindful of this as we share the responsibility of recommending funding and support.

Accommodation and Accessibility

Calgary Arts Development is committed to open, fair, and transparent processes.

We will work one-on-one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their abilities. 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 at any time during the application process either over the phone, through email, or through the use of audio or video platforms.

For example, if you are interested in applying to a program and have limited to no access to the internet or a computer, please call us and we will work with you to find a suitable accommodation. Some examples of accommodations:

  • Grant writing assistance.
  • Transcription.
  • Video or audio applications.
  • Translation of written materials and interpretation for phone or video meetings (Note: This will depend on the availability of external service agencies).

Please contact staff as early as you can to ensure they can provide the best support possible. We can be reached at or 403.476.2031 over voicemail.

How to Apply

We have partnered with a group of arts service organizations (ASO) who provide resources and support for artists on an ongoing basis. These organizations are available to provide application support and advice, as well as direct you towards the most appropriate relief programs, information, and resources available.

We encourage you to reach out to your relevant organization if you have questions about your eligibility for this program prior to beginning your application. If you are unsure of who to contact, please reach out to

Calgary Arts Development and these organizations are continuing to maintain typical business hours (Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm; weekend and statutory holidays closed), and representatives are providing support to this program on a part-time basis. Staff will endeavour to respond to your communications in a timely manner, but we ask that you bear this in mind in your communications. As all staff are working remotely, email is the preferred method of communication.

Applications will only be accepted through our online grant interface. If you do not already have an existing account, you will be required to create one before applying. Staff are available to assist with the application process.

What can I Apply for?

Lost Income:

  • Due to cancelled performances, exhibitions, workshops, classes, recording sessions, speaking engagements, etc.
  • For teaching artists due to school closures and cancelled private lessons.

Unrecoverable Incurred Expenses:

  • For out of pocket travel expenses related to artistic practice that have been cancelled including touring, artist residencies, conferences or meetings. For example, changing or canceling an airline ticket, losing the deposit on a hotel room, car rental or other rentals, etc.
  • For out of pocket expenses related to cancelled performances, exhibitions, workshops, classes, recording sessions, speaking engagements, etc. For example, losing the deposit on a rental item or a rented space or the cost of printing materials related to a show that was cancelled. At this time, we cannot include expenses incurred for items that you still own, such as materials, supplies or equipment purchased.

Note: Multiple contracts (for example, a combination of cancelled performances and cancelled teaching gigs) may be bundled into one application. However, the total amount requested in one application cannot exceed $1,500.

What is not eligible?

  • Lost income or incurred expenses for events or work occurring outside of the March 12 to April 30, 2020 period.
  • Lost income or incurred expenses due to the postponement or rescheduling of events or programs.
  • Lost income or incurred expenses unrelated to COVID-19 cancellations or travel disruptions.
  • Lost income or incurred expenses unrelated to your artistic practice.
  • Projected future lost income.

Program Criteria

Projects will be funded based on the following considerations:

  • The applicant meets basic eligibility criteria.
  • The applicant has reasonably demonstrated financial loss from event cancellations or travel disruption related to artistic work due to COVID-19.
  • The applicant has provided clear documentation and support that aligns with the amount being requested within the time period of March 12 to April 30, 2020.

Assessment Process

Applications to the program will be assessed by Calgary Arts Development staff, including the specialist for individual and collective programs, and two representatives from our partner organizations. Applications will be processed weekly in the order in which they are received and are subject to available funding.

Please see the below table for the assessment schedule. Please note that if we receive more applications than we can reasonably assess, applications may be rolled over into the next assessment cycle.

Application Received By Application Assessment & Notification Period
Wednesday April 8, 2020, 12:00pm MDT April 8 – April 15, 2020
Wednesday April 15, 2020, 12:00pm MDT April 15 – April 22, 2020
Wednesday April 22, 2020, 12:00pm MDT April 22 – April 29, 2020
Thursday April 30, 2020, 12:00pm MDT April 30 – May 7, 2020

Given the sizable impact of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector, this fund will be in high demand. Therefore, we encourage those who are eligible and in need of assistance to apply as soon as possible. Our goal is to provide support and relief to as many artists as possible with available funds.

To satisfy the assessment of your application, you may be required to submit further documentation. Applicants will not receive more than their requested amount. Applicants may be funded at a lower amount than requested if expenses or lost income are not eligible or reasonably demonstrated. If you have applied for emergency relief funds from other sources and find out you have been successful, we ask that you withdraw your request here so funds can go to another artist in need.

Please see the Disclosure of Grant Information Policy for information about how Calgary Arts Development collects and uses information submitted through grant applications. The content of applications, one-on-one interaction with potential applicants, and assessment notes and conversations will be kept confidential by Calgary Arts Development and the partner organizations.

Representatives or partner organizations may declare a conflict of interest with any applicant per Calgary Arts Development’s Conflict of Interest Policy. In the context of this program, a conflict of interest may include:

  • Applicant success or denial would result in actual or perceived financial benefit to the representative or partner organization.
  • Direct personal or professional relationship between the representative or partner organization (the applicant is a family member, staff member, board member, or currently under a professional contract or agreement).
  • The representative or partner organization feels they are unable to fairly and equitably assess the application.

Application Checklist

Please ensure you have read the full program guidelines and reached out to the relevant arts service organization or Calgary Arts Development before you begin your application.

  • Contact information (name, email, phone, address).
  • Artistic discipline (self-defined).
  • Years of practice.
  • Describe your work or artistic practice (up to 200 words):
    • Provide a brief description about you and your work. We are interested in you, a description of your artwork and what motivates you to make work.
  • Artistic resume or CV (upload):
    • Please include a link to your website if you have one.
  • Funding request (up to $1,500).
  • Have you applied to any other financial support programs?
  • Brief description of impact (up to 300 words):
    • Please tell us when the work or opportunity was scheduled for, when it was cancelled, and briefly describe the impact that this has had on you and your practice or career.
  • Documentation of loss (three upload areas, up to 2MB each). Documentation may be formal contracts, agreements, letters of offer, letters of cancellation, etc. or less formal communication such as emails, texts, messages, weblinks etc. Please include documentation to demonstrate the following:
    • Proof of the original work or event details:
      • Should demonstrate what the agreed upon work included, when it would take place, when payment would occur and the agreed upon payment amount or fee.
    • Proof of cancellation or travel disruption:
      • Should demonstrate when the cancellation or disruption occurred and how payment or work was affected.
    • Proof of lost income and/or incurred expenses:
      • Should demonstrate the amount of payment that was lost or the amount and type of expenses that were incurred which are nonrecoverable.
      • If you are estimating a portion of lost income please do your best to demonstrate and support your estimates (i.e. If you are estimating what expected ticket sales or sales of work would have been, are you able to base it off of past average sales from events of a similar nature and provide any support material. Estimates may only cover the period of time from the date of cancellation up to April 30).

Successful Applications

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.

Funding will be administered through electronic payment. If your application is approved, you will be required to provide a void cheque or direct deposit form with your banking information.

Calgary Arts Development will provide a T4A tax form for individuals who receive more than $500 in total during the 2020 tax year. Please note that in most cases this funding will be considered taxable income, but every tax situation is different. If you have any questions, it is a good idea to discuss with a tax professional or consult CRA guidelines.

Successful applicants may also be asked to participate in optional surveys or research but will not be required to complete a final report.

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