Original Peoples Investment Program

Original Peoples Investment Program

This document has been updated as of February 1, 2021.
Download the Terms of Reference as a PDF

The purpose of this document is to outline the roles and responsibilities of assessors, and to outline the criteria and processes of the Original Peoples Investment Program. Committee members must review, understand, and commit to adhere to these terms as well as the program guidelines and policies.

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.

As regulations for gatherings and physical distancing remain in flux, assessments will likely occur remotely using online meeting tools. This may affect the assessment process, timeline, and make-up of the committees outlined below. Applicants and assessors will be notified if significant changes occur.

Our team is available to answer questions and to offer support at any time during the assessment process. Please contact the program specialist as early as you can to ensure they can provide the best support possible.

Calgary Arts Development is committed to open, fair and transparent processes. We will work one-on-one with assessors who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their abilities. Some examples of accommodations are:

  • Translation of written materials.
  • Interpretation for meetings.
  • Braille transcription.

Please contact grants@calgaryartsdevelopment.com with any questions.

Assessors will be asked to read and review applications online, and score applicants on the criteria of artistic impact, community connection, and planning in one of the following streams:

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.

Assessors may also be asked to support and contribute to the success of Indigenous arts and artists through the development of mentorship relationships, learning opportunities, and future applicant support.

Participation in this work is optional and dependent on the needs of the community as identified by Calgary Arts Development, the Original Peoples Investment Program advisory committee, and applicants to the program.

Assessors are responsible for:

  • Participating in assessor training and orientation sessions hosted by Calgary Arts Development.
  • Reading and reviewing each application assigned to them in full.
  • Scoring each application according to the program criteria and scoring matrix.
  • Participating in full day, in-person meetings to discuss each application.
  • Attending arts events in the Treaty 7 region for the artist projects or public works.
  • Advocating for the arts in Calgary and the Treaty 7 region.
  • Encouraging their respective communities to participate in the arts sector.

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.

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 as an assessor in this program means you share a vision of a community where all artists have the freedom, agency, and platform to share and amplify their stories, art, cultures and experiences. We ask that all assessors are mindful of this as we share the responsibility of recommending funding and support.

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. Do not hesitate to reach out to us to support your questions, both philosophical and technical, especially where personal tastes and biases intersect with or complicate your ability to evaluate this program.


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.

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:
    • Respecting each person regardless of how they identify, including their gender, sexuality, age, class, religion, beliefs, nation, physical, neurological, cognitive and Mad identities, etc.
    • Sharing language that respects everyone. In the spirit of collaboration, we will listen if someone has alternative language to share, and offer alternatives to ableist, ageist, audist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, racist, and sexist language.
    • Speaking from our own perspective, and avoiding making generalized claims or assumptions about others’ identities.
    • Not interrupting others.
    • Being mindful of how much time and space we each take up in discussions.
    • Making time and space for others to speak.
    • Using “I” statements (“I feel,” “I think,” “I wonder,” etc.).
    • Replacing criticism with questions and encouragement.
    • Respecting those who wish to listen silently.
    • Recognizing that vulnerable interactions can occur, and creating space to acknowledge and discuss hurt or offense if it does.
  2. We will respect all art forms, traditional, contemporary or other.
  3. We will consider what the criteria mean for each applicant based on:
    • How they define their own practice.
    • What is appropriate within their artistic discipline.
    • Their stage of career, practice, experience, and expertise in their form.
    • A respect for the unique traditions and rights of different First Nations, Métis, and Inuit nations and communities.
  4. We will try to focus every conversation around what we appreciate about every project or activity.
  5. We will remember that this is not a panel of experts:
    • We will honour the knowledge and experience others share.
    • We will not impose arbitrary standards or ideas on an applicant or their project or activity that are not appropriate to the specific context.
    • We will acknowledge the experiences and values that may make each of us biased.
    • We will allow others to help us check in with our biases in a respectful and
      productive way.
    • We acknowledge that we are all learning and may be at different places on our journeys. We will be patient with ourselves and others as we remain open to continued learning.
  6. We will respect the confidentiality of applicants and assessment committees. What applicants and assessors choose to share about their identities, ideas, and experiences will remain confidential, but we will take what we learn into our work and communities.

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 sable.sweetgrass@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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.

Assessors will meet for training and orientation sessions and will attend the arts activities of the applicants they will be assessing, if possible. Assessors will be asked to participate for a term of approximately one year. We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 conditions, and orientation sessions and assessment meetings will occur online if restrictions continue into the spring and summer.

Assessors time commitment for the Original Peoples Investment Program is:

April 2021: One training and orientation session in preparation for the review process.
April 2021 – May 2021: Online review process.
May 2021: Three full-day review meetings to discuss each application and make recommendations for funding.
May 2021 – July 2022: Experience arts activities of the applicants being assessed.

Assessors will report to Calgary Arts Development staff. All deliberations of the assessment committee as well as all records, material, and information obtained by a member and not generally available to the public shall be considered confidential.

Adhering to the Terms of Reference, assessors shall maintain the confidentiality of their deliberations and shall safeguard such records and information from improper access.

Conflict of Interest

Assessors will follow Calgary Arts Development’s Policy on Conflict of Interest and Code of Conduct (excerpt from Calgary Arts Development’s Governance Manual below). All assessors are required to sign a statement agreeing to fully disclose any actual or perceived conflict with any applicant whose submission they have been appointed to review. Assessors with an actual or perceived conflict with an applicant will be removed from the assessment process for said applicant.

“Upon consideration of any proposed activity with the potential to benefit an organization or initiative with which the director or volunteer committee member shall participate in the decision-making process where there is a potential or actual conflict of interest. The individual so affiliated shall leave the room during discussion and shall not vote or use personal influence in the decision-making process.”


Protecting the Anonymity of Assessors During the Granting Cycle
Calgary Arts Development requests that individuals engaged as assessors maintain their own anonymity and the anonymity of other assessors in order to prevent the possibility of pressure being applied from grant applicants and the community that could affect assessments.

Disclosure of Assessor Names by Calgary Arts Development
Calgary Arts Development will release assessor names as part of its annual Accountability Report published the subsequent year. In the case where assessors are engaged in programs that contain a verbal presentation from applicants, assessors will be introduced to applicants at the time of the presentation, before the program cycle is complete.

Protecting the Confidentiality of Applicants and Applicant Information
All deliberations of assessors, all corporate records, and material submitted by applicants as part of their applications that are not generally available to the public shall be considered confidential. All assessors are required to safeguard such records and information from improper access and to sign and adhere to a confidentiality agreement prior to accessing any confidential information.

Calgary Arts Development will provide an honorarium to assessors as a gift to recognize their time and cover expenses related to assessment. The honorarium will be provided to assessors after the reviewing process is completed. Assessors may be reimbursed for additional expenses related to the assessment process. Please contact us to discuss. Please note that this honorarium has been calculated for online assessment, and may be adjusted if in-person meetings are required.

  • $15 per application read
  • $30 for training session
  • $90 per day for assessment meetings

Please contact Sable Sweetgrass, Specialist, Indigenous Programs, with any questions about the assessment process and program at sable.sweetgrass@calgaryartsdevelopment.com or 403.264.5330 ext. 220.

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