Community-Run Public Art Microgrant: Info Session Online

Community-Run Public Art Microgrant: Info Session Online

Applying to the Community-Run Public Art Microgrant? You can find more information and advice in this online and on-demand information session.

Recognizing that public art opportunities can come from grassroots ideas that are initiated and led by communities, Calgary Arts Development invites proposals for community-run public art projects.

This opportunity is open to community-run organizations, including informal groups that define themselves in terms of distinct communities, neighbourhood associations and non-profit organizations or charitable organizations.

Community-run organizations in Calgary/Mohkinsstsis are invited to apply for funding to hire local artists and create public art in their neighbourhoods. Communities are required to team up with local artists at any level of experience to explore any form of public art in any part of the city.

Be sure to read the full guidelines and apply by 4:30pm MT on November 3, 2023.

Alex Lingnau: We’re going to start with some information about Calgary Arts Development, or CADA, and the public art program. Our overarching vision is a creative, connected Calgary through the arts, where everyone is empowered to live a creative life. Our mission is that the arts have the power to create vibrant communities and bring together diverse voices and perspectives. 

We support artists in their development of their skills and the expression of their creativity. Calgary Arts Development supports and strengthens the arts to benefit all Calgarians. 

As the city’s designated arts development authority we invest and allocate municipal funding for the arts provided by the City of Calgary, and we leverage these funds to provide additional resources to the arts sector. Our programs support hundreds of arts organizations, individual artists and artist collectives in Calgary. 

The public art program in general. As the arts development authority, we are uniquely positioned to deliver and create a future public art program built upon our knowledge of and strong relationships with the arts community. 

As of 2021, Calgary Arts Development is engaged in a multi-year transition with the City of Calgary to take over as the operator of the public art program. We are creating a public art program that is engaging, relevant and accountable. This program must reflect the rich diversity of the city, including connecting with Indigenous voices to tell past, current and future stories of Calgary. Our intent is to foster meaningful connections and dialogue between artists and communities, utilizing art in the public realm to reflect Calgary’s diverse stories and values.  

So CADA’s role in this program is really commissioning new artworks through open competition, programming such as youth programs, artist development and temporary exhibitions, and building public art awareness and activating the collection. The City of Calgary is still responsible for conserving and maintaining the collection. They’re also participating in activating the collection.  

CADA does have a very strong commitment to equity, and we’re going to go over a lot of this throughout this meeting today and you’ll see more of it in the application process as well. 

So Calgary Arts Development is committed to working with communities that have historically been underserved. We’re guided by the core principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. We’re committed to the process of eliminating institutional racism, ableism and barriers in our programs, policies and practices, centring the creativity and leadership of those communities most impacted by structural inequities. 

Our commitment outlines a vision for a city where Calgarians of all backgrounds can access, create and participate in art as part of their everyday lives. The four pillars of this ongoing work are Equity: creating equitable, equitable access for Calgarians, who have had maybe less opportunity for philanthropic and governmental support due to the systemic barriers that exist in our community; Diversity: so supporting artistic endeavours that reflect our diverse community and in supporting the work of artists of diverse backgrounds; Inclusion: try to engage a wide variety of voices and perspectives in shaping and furthering the work that we do; and through Accessibility, we are trying to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent people who encounter physical, mental or cultural barriers to spaces, programs and services from participating in the arts. 

In order to honour lived experience and the intersectional and unique experiences of different people and communities, we follow a Nothing About Us Without Us policy. So if you were creating a work about a specific community, that community needs to be actively engaged and consulted, and there needs to be a clear, intentional and reciprocal relationship. We’re going to be looking for that in your applications, if you are to be working with different communities. 

Aligning with our commitment to equity, we will work with applicants in a one size fits one way. So reach out to us with any concerns about how your project fits into our application process and we will work through these together with you. 

Of course, there are going to be things that we will not tolerate, such as hate speech, cultural appropriation and active exclusionary behaviour. So please be aware that the applications or projects that contain this will not be accepted or moved to the selection process. 

Accommodation and accessibility. Barriers within the art community do exist, particularly for equity-seeking communities. In recognition of this, we will work one on one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations that suit their unique abilities and situations. Some examples of accommodations are translations, so, written materials into other languages including ASL, transcription of verbal meetings or audio and video recordings into a written document, language interpretation for meetings and grant writing assistance. 

There are two policies available through CADA For anyone who needs support to apply to this program. The Accommodation and Accessibility Policy and the Application Assistance Policy. The links to both of these policies are in the guidelines under the accessibility tab, but we’re happy to send these out if you need them. We can provide funds to support application assistance, for example, the cost of hiring translators, and we will work one on one with applicants who experience barriers to access to develop accommodations for their needs. 

If you’re looking for assistance or have questions about eligibility, please reach out to us before applying. You can email the public art team at or you can reach out to me or Heather directly in order for us to provide appropriate support. Please reach out as early as you can. Things like booking translators can take up to a week or more, so we really like to have a good cushion there so you can complete your application in time. 

Okay, here’s a little breakdown of our timeline. Applications are open and they will close on November 3 at 4:30 pm. We do encourage people to submit their applications as early as possible, and late applications will not be accepted. All applications will be reviewed and assessed in November by our assessment committee and notifications will go out by email in early December of 2023, letting applicants know if they were successful or not, and confirming grant amounts. 

Projects funded through this program must be completed by December 31, 2024, so you have about a year and we cannot fund any project that has started before the date applications opened on September 25. 

All right. Let’s get into the program. So what is a community-run public art microgrant? Microgrants are, oops, I’m gonna let someone else into the meeting. Microgrants are typically small, one-time awards given to community-run, short-term projects. Community-run organizations such as neighbourhood associations, non-profit or charitable organizations, grassroots organizations or cultural groups can apply for funding. This is a wide-ranging category so reach out to us if you’re unsure if your organization is eligible. 

Groups are required to hire a local artist at any level of experience to produce any form of public art in their in their neighbourhood, and communities can apply for up to $10,000 in support. The total funding for this program is $300,000, and we would like to fund as many projects as possible. 

Project themes. This is a big one for the application. We’ll go over this again a little bit later, but just to go over the basics, all applications must address one of the following five themes.  

One: foster truth and reconciliation. You could use this to learn about the truth of Canadian colonization and its ongoing impact on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples or you could explore and create paths towards reconciliation and rights relations with Indigenous peoples and the land. 

Two: Art for social change. Here we want you to consider how art can be a force for social change. Investigate and develop a project that could transform people’s lives, even if on a small scale, and explore art as activism and activism as art. 

Three: Uncover little-known stories about the city or overlooked histories. This is an opportunity to team up with artists, Indigenous elders or historians to create a project that connects people to places and spaces in different ways, or celebrate overlooked people and events and the diversity or diverse learnings of your community. 

Four: Explore stories of your community. Here you could create and share stories of how local businesses or community organizations tell the story of where you live and what makes your community unique. 

Five: Bring beauty, joy, whimsy and hope. So art doesn’t have to be political or serious. You can use this program to introduce whimsy, surprise and joy to your community. 

Eligibility. There’s a lot to go through here, so please refer to the guidelines for a complete review of eligibility. We’re going to go over the most pertinent details here. So this is going to reiterate what I said before, but the opportunities open to community-run organizations, including informal groups that define themselves in term of distinct communities, neighbourhood associations and non-profit or charitable organizations. 

The activities must take place in Calgary and applicants must either be Calgary-based or be able to demonstrate that they’re, that they regularly make significant contributions to the arts that are accessible to Calgarians. We will only accept one application per group and one application per project. You may not receive more than one CADA grant for the same project or phase of a project, but if you’re successful in this program, it does not affect your eligibility for other CADA grant programs or for other projects. You can only have one application for this program, but if there’s another project you’re working on for a completely different CADA granting program, you’re safe to apply for both. 

A portion of your budget must be used to hire local artists to carry out the project. The artwork must be in a space that is open and accessible to all, and the artwork must be safe for public interaction. The location must be approved by the site owner, and the project applicant is responsible for obtaining that approval. This is a big one, sculptures or works with moving components or those requiring engineering approvals are not eligible and will not be considered. The program guidelines detail additional eligibility requirements as they relate to expenses and activities, please take the time to read through these details. They cover eligible expenses such as artist fees, accessibility costs, professional fees, and negligible expenses such as lost wages and equipment, cost limits. It also covers ineligible activities such as fundraising events that take place, or events that take place in locations with paid entry. 

If you have any questions regarding eligibility in any category, please reach out to us. 

Right. The selection process. So all applications to this program will be reviewed by an independent assessment committee. Sorry, guys. Trying to let some people into the chat. There we go. Sorry. Applications will be reviewed by our Independent Assessment Committee, made up of artists and peers and community members. The membership of the Peer Assessment Committee will be chosen through public nominations and staff expertise. Assessment committees are chosen to represent the broad diversity of Calgary and its artistic communities, including but not limited to: artistic discipline, gender, sexuality, age, religion, beliefs, nation, physical and neurological identities, etc.  

Our assessment committee committees are held to be key to group agreements, committing to open generous and respectful evaluations and communications. You can read through these if you want. The link is in the guidelines or we can send it up to you. Anyone can ask to participate in a career assessment committee, you just have to complete the assessor nomination form online or you can reach out to 

The evaluation process. So our selection panel will read and score applications throughout November. They will select projects or project applications based on how their submissions respond to application questions, and they will be scored for a possible total of 100 points. This is broken down by criteria in the guidelines. A location bonus of 20 points will be added to assessment scores for projects taking place in neighbourhoods that are lacking public art or that haven’t been really given many or haven’t been open to many arts granting programs in the past. CADA has developed or has identified these neighbourhoods and published the full list in the guidelines. It is long, but it is alphabetized, so please take a look to see if your community is eligible.  

Proof of site is rated as yes or no and budget feasibility is rated as appropriate or inappropriate. Not all projects will necessarily require proof of site, so our assessors will be looking at whether or not you may need one and we may reach out to you for more information or revisions during the evaluation process on any of the application requirements. 

After scoring, the selection committee will discuss applications and make final funding decisions in a meeting facilitated by the public art staff, and then we’ll release our final selections to applicants again sometime in early December. 

Just going to grab one more drink of water before we get on to the next part. 

Okay. So we are going to go through the online process to apply and we’re going to get into the application in greater detail. So our applications are accepted through our online application interface. You’ll be able to access the interface through the grant login button on the top right corner of the CADA homepage or at — I’ll put this website up at the end of the meeting as well for anyone who wants to write it down. While we go through this on the website, we’re going to cover all of the submission requirements in the application. We’ll go through program theme, community engagement and benefit project plan, maintenance plan, proof of site, location and budget all in a little bit more detail. 

So I’m just going to bring up the first website here. So hopefully everyone can see this. So this is the Calgary Arts Development homepage. And up here in the top right-hand corner, you can see the grant login button. This will redirect you to that website that I just stated, If your organization has registered before, you can just log in and you’ll be able to see the open opportunity. If you’re new to the system or if you are a new contact for an existing organization, you will have to register. 

So we’re just going to click this button near the bottom and register the top. Three categories here are all eligible for the program. So not-for-profit arts organizations with or without a CRA business number, or again, if you need to register as a contact of an existing registered arts organization. These are all fairly straightforward, so I’m going to go through them pretty quickly, if you have any questions about this. Again, please ask us at the end of the program or reach out in an email and we can go through this again. 

So a not-for-profit arts organization with a CRA business number, here you’re just going to be asked to put in your registration number and information about your organization, click search and you will be able to select your organization based on that information. I’m just going to go back here. Oops. Sorry. If you do not have a CRA business number, you’re going to be taken right to the main page to a to register. So everyone will have to do this no matter what order you’re going to be registering in, but it’s very straightforward. Your organization, name and information, and then down here, contact information for your primary contact. Please make sure this information is up to date. This person will be contacted for any issues we have with the application, any news really anything going on with the program. So this person is going to get a lot of emails and we have to be able to get through to them. Once this is all filled out, you can click submit at the bottom of the page.  

I’m just going to show you guys the contact of an existing registered arts organization. So here you can just start typing whatever your organization name is and it will let you select that organization. From that point on, just fill out again the contact information for your primary contact and click submit. 

Once this is all, once you’ve submitted, you are going to receive an email asking you to set up your password. From that point forward, you are going to be able to sign in through the, through the grant portal. So I’m just going to put my test account in here. You will have your own email and your own new password set up, and then you can log into the program.  

I’m going to quickly go over this front page here. So here, under open opportunities, you will be able to find the programs that you’re eligible to apply for. At the bottom of the page here, you will be able to see if you have started any applications that will be under the draft hub, if you have submitted any it’ll be here. And if we need any revisions, you will also be able to find them here. 

Up in the top right-hand corner, you’ll be able to click your profile tab if you need to make any changes to your organization, information or your profile. This is where you can do it. Please make sure all of this information is up to date before you start an application. Everything that’s in your organization or your profile information will be automatically imported into any application you start, and if you change it afterwards, it will not be reflected in the applications that you have already started.  

Okay, let’s get into the application. 

Heather Campbell: Hey Alex, sorry to interrupt. For the ‘my organization’ profile, I believe there’s information that needs to be filled out in there before they start applying and talking about their organization. 

Alex Lingnau: Heather, you are so right. Okay, great. So I’m going to click on this tab.  Sorry, guys. I’m getting ahead of myself. This is your organization profile. So here I have already filled this out, and I’m going to show you guys how to change any information. If this is your first time, all of these tabs will be open so that you can change them. If you’re going back in to make any alterations, click on the certification tab. At the end you will see this button that says Update Profile and it will let you edit any of the organization profile information or contact information. 

So here you want to make sure you have your organization name, your organization structure, this is a dropdown menu, so it will give you a bunch of categories to choose from. And you can type in your mandate, include any type of artwork or disciplines that you work in. And then you can also upload your financial statements. At the bottom of the page here, you can add any other information for your organization’s web presence or social media presence that you would like to share with us. 

Okay. Under contact information, again, this is where you’re going to put in your primary contact information, if you have multiple people in your organization, in this dropdown menu, you’ll be able to find all of their names. And the big one in here, you will be asked to upload an organizational chart for your organization. If you if you’re a smaller organization and maybe you don’t have something like this, just reach out to us and we can talk to you about what this should be or what information we really need from you in this. After that, it’s just your address, very straightforward, and then under certification, you will let us know that this is all accurate and current. After that, you can hit submit profile to save everything. While you’re working in in the Smart Simple program at any time, if you’re working on a draft application or if you’re just changing your profile information, you can always click a ‘save my work’ button at the bottom of whichever form you’re filling out. This is just to make sure that if your Internet goes out or if something shuts down, your work will be saved and kept up to date while you’re working on it. I’m going to submit this profile and we will move on. 

Okay, so now we are logged in and we’re going to check out our open opportunities. So see here, I am eligible to apply for the Community-Run Public Art Microgrant Program 2023. Over on the right side, there’s a view button, this will download the guidelines to your computer so you can have them at arm’s reach to read through as you’re applying. I’m going to click the apply button and we’ll go through the requirements. 

All right, so when we log on, there is always a lot of information in our instruction boxes. It’s very helpful, so just keep reading through them as you’re going through the program. I won’t go through every little detail here, but they’re nice little reminders for what we’re asking for and how to use these pages. 

Again, up here, you can see that all of my information has been imported over in our contact information page. You can see the mandate from the other from my organization profile. And again, all of this information was updated before the primary contact. Sorry. No? Okay.  

Sorry. Does someone have a question?  

Unknown speaker: No, no, sorry.   

Alex Lingnau: Okay. Thank you. 

The primary contact you’ll have to select here as well. Everything else will just be imported over from your organizational or organization profile. You can toggle between your contact information and the submission requirements just at the top of the page here. 

So we’ll get into the requirements. 

First question, how did you hear about this call? That’s just for us. Program theme, so this was the five program themes we went through before. Here you’re going to want to indicate which program theme you’re addressing in your submission and how the proposed project relates to your theme. Briefly describe your project here or any details that inform the relationship to your chosen project. But remember that this is the first introduction to your project and will act as an identifier of your application. Aim to be clear and straightforward and specific. We do have a word count on the bottom of every manual type box. Do not feel compelled to use up the words. This is a maximum, not a goal. 

We’ll scroll down into community engagement and community benefit. Community engagement is an essential part of your application. Assessors are looking to see how your project will benefit the community, and they’re interested in details of what community engagement is being done in your project and how that engagement takes place. 

Be really clear on how community engagement is informing the artwork proposed and the connection between your project and your community. A couple of questions that might help you brainstorm here are how will you include community engagement in your project? Who will be involved? Will the artist have meetings or discussions with the community, are community members involved in informing the work or informing the artwork concept? What is the project’s context in the community? Is it understandable, relatable to the community? Does it engage the community? Does it create connections between the community and its members? How will this project benefit the community? This is a big one. And here, be really specific in what you hope to do with this artwork. Do you think it will make a difference in your community? What’s the outcome you’re hoping for? These are all things that we really want to know. 

Scroll down a little further and you will see the project plan and maintenance plan section. This section asks for more specific and technical details about your project. We want to know what is being built or performed. What type of art are you proposing? We really want you to provide details of the project plan, including a timeline and plans for how the artwork will be installed and maintained. If you can provide the anticipated lifespan and what you think will happen to the artwork once the lifespan concludes? For example, a mural’s typical lifespan is three to five years, so a maintenance plan would need to include how the community organization would deal with graffiti or any other vandalism, and then what will happen to the mural once the lifespan has elapsed if it’s starting to degrade. Will the building owner keep it up as long as possible, or will they want the wall painted back to its original colour? Include who will be responsible for this maintenance. The artwork must be owned and maintained by the community or the private site owner for the duration of its lifespan. And we do recommend that the artwork be designed to require little to no maintenance. 

And we also ask that the artwork be temporary. So that means less than five years. We do want you to provide details of how you will work with artists and who the artist is that you plan to work with. Also, safety. Tell us about any safety concerns you foresee and how you will address them. Some issues can include if the artwork is a climbing risk, if the artwork has any sharp or pointed edges that can cause injury to anyone. Little things like that are really important to think about here. And please note, as I mentioned earlier, projects that require engineering approvals will not be considered, including sculptures and objects with moving parts. If you’re providing supplementary information, you can upload it down here under the project plan and maintenance plan files. There’s a little upload button here and this will let you upload files from your computer, or you can drag and drop right onto the screen.  

Some things that are helpful if you are going to be using this are a resumé or bio for the artist you plan to work with. Information about partners or collaborators, planning documents including site plans and artist renderings and letters of support from your community members. 

Right, down here we have proof of site. So this is just a yes or no. Do you have approval from your site owner? Very easy question. If you do not have a site, if you’re doing something that takes place completely online, you can click No, it doesn’t disclude you from funding. We’re just going to be looking when we go through these applications to make sure that if you’re doing something that is site specific, you have approval for that site. 

Location. So here, this is very straightforward. You’re just going to put in the neighbourhood that your project is taking place in. You will be automatically scored an extra 20 bonus points if your neighbourhood is on the list that CADA defined as neighbourhoods needing more access to public art granting or public art programing. 

I’m going to talk a little bit about siting considerations here. If you’re not using or if you don’t plan on working on private land, the other alternative is that you were going to be working in public land. So if your artwork is proposed to be on public land, that is something that is potentially owned by the province, you can call 311 to figure out if the location you’re using is public land or if it’s city land, but again, this is up to the applicant so make sure you are sure about the location and who is in charge of that at that location. 

If it is city land, the applicant is required to collaborate with their community association to support the project. I know we have a lot of community associations already in this meeting today, so you guys are head of the line, a copy of a written agreement or letter of commitment with the association will be requested before the location of the artwork can be approved by the City. 

Additional assistance can be provided to work with the City after the project is commissioned and a useful resource for identifying and getting approvals for City land is the City of Calgary Neighbourhood Services website.  

Right, now budget. At the bottom of the page here funding request here we’re just asking you to input the total amount that you are looking to receive. And then under budget again we have another upload button. So here you can click on that, can upload files from your computer or you can drag and drop right onto the screen. 

So for the budget, these will be reviewed for feasibility to determine if the budget is appropriate for the type of art proposed and if the budget is not appropriate for the program, we might come back and ask you to resubmit your budget proposal. So a couple of things to in mind when you’re building your budget. Does the budget appropriately pay artists, Indigenous elders or knowledge keepers and collaborators, anyone you’re working with who needs to be compensated? Another thing, do you have a contingency? There’s no additional funds available for cost overruns and the applicant is responsible for managing their budget. So make sure you’ve set something aside for anything that could come up or any potential problems that you foresee in the future, whether they’re weather related or vandalism related. Build those into your budget. 

Your budget should also include all costs for materials, insurance, graffiti coatings, if necessary, and anything else that you will have to pay for directly to have a successful project. This is where we want to see you get into the nitty gritty. We want to see that you’ve thought everything through and that you have a good plan going forward so that your project can be successful. 

All right. So once you feel confident that you have everything filled out, oh, I’m sorry, you know what? This isn’t even going to show up because I’m in a background version, but normally at the bottom of the page of the submission requirements, we’re just going to have to imagine they’re here, there will be a button to save your draft. And again, that’s what we talked about before. You can just hit that button while you’re working and it will make sure everything is saved while you’re working in case anything goes wrong. There’s also a save and validate button. You have to click this button before you can submit. This will go through your submission requirements and your contact information page and make sure nothing is missing. After that, you’ll be able to hit the submit button, and once you hit the submit button, you will get a pop up asking that you’re sure you’re ready to submit, you will not be able to change your application after you submit it. Once you finalize and submit, you’re good to go, and we’re just going to wait and see what happens with the assessment committee. 

All right. I am going to jump back over to the PowerPoint presentation and we’re going to get into some more details about the public art program and the application. 

So what is public art? What we often think of when we hear the words public art is large scale, iconic sculptures, but public art includes so much more. At its core, public art is simply an artist and a community working together to really realize ideas in public spaces. The resulting artwork can be almost anything. It could be interactive, like a workshop, it could be something using digital technology, like light or soundscapes, it can be temporary, like a performance, it could be something social, like something designed just to bring people together, it can be functional, like say final decals for large windows, and it can be living like a community garden. Really, these possibilities are almost endless. And again, we can leave it up to you to come up with what you think works best for your community and what will bring the biggest impact. 

Indigenous content. So if your project includes Indigenous content, works with Indigenous people, or would like to include Indigenous knowledge or ways of knowing, it’s very important to outline how you will be engaging with Indigenous communities, Indigenous elders or Indigenous knowledge keepers. We want you to explain how you will engage with Indigenous communities, elders or knowledge keepers or other groups, organizations or institutions. And we want you to show us how these groups can be included in your project team. Is there a role they can fill throughout the length of the project, and how are you going to compensate them? If you’re doing this, it is recommended to consult with Fort Calgary, the Blackfoot Crossing, the University of Calgary Native Centre, the Elders Guidance Circle at the Calgary Public Library or the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. These are all good resources. We recommend that you provide information about collaboration with Indigenous elders or knowledge keepers in your application. Let us know who is involved in your proposed activities and be specific about how or why you chose them. All of this information can be uploaded under the Project Planning and maintenance plan upload tab. Anything else you want to add there, this is the place to do it. 

Okay. And now some grant tips. So the goal of this application is to paint a complete narrative of who you are, what you want to do why it’s relevant, how it will impact your community, and how you will feasibly achieve it. In order to do this, it’s recommended that you use plain language, it’s often clearer and more concise. So avoid jargon or technical language, remembering that the selection committee will be made up of people from many different practices and experiences. Assessors really appreciate being able to easily read and understand an application. We also want you to demonstrate capacity, awareness and potential. We’re looking for applicants who have thought about the amount of work involved in producing their project, who it will involve or affect and how it will benefit their community. It’s so important to do your research, make sure you can back up what you are stating in your application and show that you have knowledge about what you are proposing. It’s also really helpful to have somebody who may not be familiar with the project to read your application. The questions they ask might uncover some gaps or assumptions you’re making in the story you’re telling. And again, please contact us early if you need any assistance or if you have any questions. The more time we have, the better we can help. 

Okay. And once again, we have my contact information up here, and Heather’s, if you want to take a screenshot of this, feel free. My contact information is all over the program guidelines as well. If you do need to get a hold of me or Heather or anyone from public art, please reach out. 

And I just want to remind everyone that the applications close on November 3rd at 4:30 pm. So you’re all ahead of the game getting started early, and we hope to see your applications soon. 

If you have any questions or need any help completing an application, please contact Alex Lingnau, Project Lead, at or 403.264.5330.

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