This site uses JavaScript. Please enable JavaScript in your Browser and reload the page to view the full site.

Capacity building program

Program Guidelines

Deadline for application

  • September 21, 2020

Program objectives

  • To assist Ottawa’s local arts, heritage, festival and fair organizations build organizational capacity and sustainability at key milestones in their development.
  • To support all cultural communities in Ottawa build organizational capacity.

Cultural funding support section values

  • The Cultural Funding Support Section (CFSS) assists independent, local, not-for-profit organizations, as well as professional artists and heritage professionals in the presentation of arts and heritage events and activities that reflect a broad representation of communities within Ottawa.
  • The City of Ottawa supports cultural activity that is inclusive of Ottawa’s diverse community, including people from a diversity of ancestries, abilities, ages, countries of origin, cultures, genders, incomes, languages, races and sexual orientations.
  • The City of Ottawa encourages submissions from First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, racialized people, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ communities.
  • The City of Ottawa is built on unceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory. The CFSS honours the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation as host nation. 
  • The CFSS is committed to supporting cultural activities that respond to the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • The City of Ottawa recognizes both official languages as having the same rights, status and privileges, and therefore accepts applications in both English and French.

Funding priorities

In addition to the evaluated merit of submitted proposals, the CFSS will look at prioritizing applications from the following equity seeking communities:

  • Algonquin Anishinabe Host Nation
  • First Nations
  • Inuit
  • Métis
  • Francophones
  • Immigrants / Newcomers
  • People living in poverty
  • People of colour
  • People with visible and invisible disabilities
  • Deaf People
  • Rural residents
  • Seniors / Older adults
  • Women+
  • Youth


First-time applicants are encouraged to contact their Cultural Funding Officer to ensure their organization or collective meets eligibility requirements. Applicants must meet program eligibility criteria at the time of application submission.

Who is eligible

  • Organizations (including professional collectives) with an arts, heritage, festival, or fair mandate
  • Organizations (including professional collectives) representing and/or celebrating an equity-seeking community through arts, heritage, or cultural activities

All applicants must:

  • Be not-for-profit
  • Be based in Ottawa, Kitigan Zibi or Pikwakanagan and serve the local community
  • Have a Board of Directors or Steering Committee consisting of a minimum of 3 members, at least 50% of members must reside in the Ottawa Region
  • Have their office/mailing address within the limits of the city of Ottawa, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, or Pikwakanagan First Nation
  • Have the majority of their programming and event(s) within the city of Ottawa, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, or Pikwakanagan First Nation
  • Have the ability to receive payment in the organization’s name

Who is NOT eligible

  • Government agencies and for-profit organizations
  • Organizations whose activities come under the jurisdiction of other levels or departments of government (school boards, hospitals, universities, social services, military programs, business improvement associations, etc.)
  • Political parties
  • Organizations with an accumulated surplus greater than 100% of total revenue (excluding capital assets)

What is eligible

Eligible capacity building projects must be new initiatives focused on one of the following objectives:

  • Building community engagement and outreach capacity
  • Building fundraising capacity
  • Building leadership and governance capacity
  • Building marketing and promotional capacity
  • Building overall strategic and/or organizational capacity

Examples of eligible capacity building projects include (but are not limited to)

  • Creating a networking platform that increases access to cultural opportunities for all
  • Establishing a donor database
  • Professional development (workshops, seminars, conferences, training, board retreat, etc.
  • Developing a professional strategic plan for your organization
  • Planning a community-wide conference on accessibility needs
  • Seeking professional expertise from a member of the Host Nation
  • Promoting access to Algonquin language retention programs

What is NOT eligible

  • Projects for which the organization has already received municipal funding
  • Minor and major capital projects, purchase of equipment, and/or feasibility studies related to capital projects. (Please consult the Cultural Facilities Funding Program Guidelines for funding related to these types of projects.)
  • Projects that are completed before the application deadline date.
  • Funding for direct deficit reduction.


  • The City will provide funding to successful projects to a maximum of $15,000
  • The City will not fund more than 90% of the total cost of the project; the project budget must include sources of revenue other than the City’s contribution
  • Organizations with accumulated surpluses greater than 100% of total revenue (excluding capital assets) are ineligible to apply
  • Organizations that receive operating funding from the City of Ottawa cannot apply for activities that are included in their ongoing programming/operations
  • An organization may only submit one project application at a time within this program
  • You cannot receive more than one funding allocation for the same activity
  • You must submit a final report before reapplying. If your final report for previous funding has not been submitted and approved by the deadline date, subsequent applications to this program will not be considered

City of Ottawa employees or elected representatives may not apply for individual cultural funding or awards.

Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department staff may not hold a key position within an organization requesting cultural funding from the City. Exception: where staff participation has been approved as one of the duties of their position.

City of Ottawa staff are required to act in compliance with the City of Ottawa Employee Code of Conduct and all applicable laws and regulations. For further inquiries, please contact your Cultural Funding Officer.

Meeting all eligibility requirements does not guarantee funding

Application process

Applicants must complete the Application Form and attach all required documentation. All applications must be submitted in hardcopy either in person by 4pm on the deadline date, or by mail postmarked by that day.

If you are a first-time applicant, please contact a Cultural Funding Officer to ensure that you are eligible for this program, and to discuss the application process.

Assessment criteria

Peer assessors will use the following assessment criteria to evaluate your request for funding. Applicants are assessed based upon their respective mandates, size and scope, and according to the criteria outlined below:


  • Clear alignment of project with program objectives
  • Strength of leadership; suitability of human resources (i.e. staff, consultants, specialists) engaged in the project


  • Project’s impact on applicant’s operations
  • Potential for the project to meet applicant’s current needs and increase applicant’s effectiveness
  • Contribution of the project towards applicant’s long-term sustainability
  • Impact on the broader local cultural community the applicant represents


  • Applicant’s ability to implement the project
  • Applicant’s ability to monitor project outcomes and results
  • Effective work plan
  • Appropriate fiscal management and realistic budgeting
  • Need for financial support

How funding decisions are made

Peer assessment principles

The CFSS uses a peer assessment model in the evaluation process that involves professionals who are active within their cultural community. Evaluators and outside assessors are selected for their recognized expertise within specific fields of related work. Committee members represent the community they are assessing but not any particular group or institution, and have an awareness of a broad range of artistic, heritage and/or cultural activity as well as an appreciation of the diversity of the local cultural community.

Key principles of assessment committee composition strive to create a balanced representation of diversity of content, program and discipline expertise, as well as fair representation of official languages, gender, geographic areas and culture-specific communities.

Peer assessment is a nationally accepted best practice, credible to the arts, heritage, and cultural communities, and has been approved by City Council.

How jurors and assessors are chosen

Cultural Funding Officers are responsible for the selection of peer assessors and are continually researching and adding names of qualified individuals to the juror database. Members of the cultural community are encouraged to recommend qualified individuals. If you are interested in participating as an assessor or would like to refer someone, please send a curriculum vitæ to our mailing address or by email to

Peer assessment process

Assessment committees are convened to evaluate funding submissions. Each committee consists of three members who assess applications according to the publicly-stated assessment criteria. Individual evaluators first review the funding applications independently. The members then meet as a committee to review the applications and support material together. For each application, the committee establishes the funding priority, decides whether to award funding, and makes funding recommendations. If required, external assessments in specialized areas beyond the range of a particular committee’s expertise are solicited and taken into consideration. All results are final.

Allocation of funding

An applicant’s success in obtaining funding depends upon the assessment committee’s final evaluation and the funding available within the program.

All funding is subject to the approval of the annual City budget by Ottawa City Council.

The amount requested is not necessarily the amount awarded.

Meeting all eligibility requirements of the program does not guarantee funding.

Conflict of interest

Since the purpose of the peer assessment model is to select qualified and knowledgeable assessors from the local arts, heritage and/or cultural community, these individuals may have relationships with one or more applicants that could lead to a conflict of interest. Under the City’s guidelines, an actual or perceived conflict must be declared.

Prior to the assessment meetings, assessors receive a copy of the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy with a form for declaring conflicts. All assessors must complete this form and submit it prior to the assessment meeting. In a case where a conflict is declared, the assessor in conflict abstains from any discussion related to the application in question.

Situations of potential conflict are, if an assessor:

  • is employed by or is a member of the Board of Directors of an applicant organization
  • has financial interest in the success or failure of an applicant’s project
  • has an interest based on the fact that an applicant's project involves a spouse/live-in partner or an immediate family member
  • has a personal interest in specific applications other than what is normally expected of interested members of the cultural community
  • for any other reason, is unable to objectively assess an application

Confidentiality of information

Information provided on the application form, or as support material, may be made available to City of Ottawa staff and assessors. Personal information contained therein shall be dealt with on a confidential basis pursuant to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Assessors and committee members are required to treat both the contents of the applications and the deliberations of the committee as confidential. At the end of the assessment meeting, committee members turn in their copies of the application materials for shredding.

Additional information for applicants

Vulnerable sector policy

Organizations are morally and legally required under the Duty of Care concept to do everything reasonable to care for and protect their staff and participants. As such, not-for profit organizations and collectives are required to have a Vulnerable Sector Policy in place that identifies the risks related to vulnerable persons and outlines procedures to ensure program quality and protection of vulnerable participants (this may include volunteer/staff screening procedures, police record checks, operational procedures, etc.).

Section 6.3 of the Criminal Records Act defines a vulnerable person as a person who, because of his or her age, a disability or other circumstances, whether temporary or permanent, (a) is in a position of dependency on others; or (b) is otherwise at a greater risk than the general population of being harmed by a person in a position of trust or authority towards them. This includes children, youth, senior citizens, people living in poverty, people experiencing homelessness, people with physical, developmental, social, emotional, or other disabilities, as well as people who are victims of crime or harm.

For more information on Police Record Checks, please contact the Ottawa Police Service.

Understand the law on workplace violence and harassment

It is your organization’s responsibility to ensure compliance with current legislation.

Information about the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence Harassment), 2016, S.O. 2016, c. 2 – Bill 132 can be found here:


The Terms and Conditions for this program specify that an organization must have insurance coverage that complies with the City’s Insurance Service requirements.

These requirements stipulate that an organization must have comprehensive general liability insurance, and is subject to limits of not less than five million dollars ($5,000,000) inclusive per occurrence for bodily injury, death and damage to property including loss of use thereof. The comprehensive general liability insurance policies must name the City of Ottawa as an additional insured.

For more information regarding insurance, please read the attached Terms and Conditions.

Funding results

All applicants will receive notification from the CFSS informing them of the results. We aim to provide results to all applicants within four months of the application deadline. We cannot share results over the phone.

Summary report

At the end of the year, the CFSS publishes a summary of funding results on the City of Ottawa’s website listing the names of all funding recipients and assessors. Until this list is published, the names of successful applicants and assessors will not be revealed. The identity of unsuccessful applicants remains confidential.

If you are awarded funding

Release of funds

If you are awarded funding, your notification will include the approved funding amount, as well as conditions governing the release of funds and the Terms and Conditions document. Payment from the City’s Financial Services will follow.

Use of funds

Funds shall be used only for the purposes outlined in the original application. Any changes to the project scale or activities, including changes in budget, leadership, organizational structure and programming, must be reported in writing to and receive approval from the CFSS.

Please read the Terms and Conditions document for more information on the use of funds.


All funding recipients are required to submit a final report detailing how they used the funding awarded to them. This report must be submitted to and approved by the Cultural Funding Support Section either:

  • following completion of the funded activities; or
  • twelve months after receipt of the funds; or
  • at the time of subsequent application to the program

Without a Report approved by the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Funding Support Section, you will be deemed ineligible for subsequent funding.

To obtain a reporting form, please contact or call 613-580-2424 ext. 29404.

Acknowledgement of support

Funding recipients are required to acknowledge the support of the City of Ottawa as indicated within the official Acknowledgement of Support document which will be mailed to all successful applicants.

If you are not awarded funding

Try again! If you do not receive funding you are encouraged to try again. The program’s limited envelope cannot fund all applicants, regardless of their merit.

All results are final. There is no appeal of assessors’ decisions regarding the merit of your organization’s proposed project or the assessment committee’s recommendation of an award amount. The CFSS allows for reconsideration, but only in cases where a review of the application and the committee’s deliberations reveals evidence that the application was not assessed according to the publicly-stated procedure and assessment criteria.

Application Forms & Contact Information

2019 Application Forms

Please read the Program Guidelines above before completing your application.

Please note: fillable PDF forms may no longer be completed through web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and others. Please first download the form onto your computer and open it with Adobe Acrobat Reader to complete. Any information added to the form through the web browser will be lost when the form is downloaded to your computer.

Activity Report on Previous Funding

If funding was previously received from the City of Ottawa, an activity report detailing how the funds were used must be submitted at the completion of the project, or attached with a subsequent application. Applicants who fail to provide an activity report on previous funding will NOT be eligible to apply for subsequent City of Ottawa funding.

Please note: fillable PDF forms may no longer be completed through web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and others. Please first download the form onto your computer and open it with Adobe Acrobat Reader to complete. Any information added to the form through the web browser will be lost when the form is downloaded to your computer.

Contact Us

Program inquires

For specific information on your submission, or to discuss eligibility, contact:

Marlène Barré
Cultural Funding Officer
613-580-2424, ext. 28517

General inquiries

For general information or to request an application form, contact:

613-580-2424, ext. 29404

Terms and Conditions

Cultural Funding Programs – PROJECTS & INDIVIDUALS

1. Definitions 

“Applicant” means the applicant organization or individual that submitted an application to one of the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Funding Programs.
“Recipient” means the applicant organization or individual that submitted the application, has agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions and has been awarded funding by the City of Ottawa.
“City” means the City of Ottawa, Cultural Funding Support Section, Arts & Heritage Development Unit, Business and Technical Support Services Branch, Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department.

2. Time Frame

These terms and conditions shall be in effect for three (3) years from the date of receipt of funding.

3. Acknowledgment of Funding

The Recipient shall publicly acknowledge the support of the City of Ottawa in print and verbally in all publicity, promotional materials, informational materials, press materials and at public occasions relating to the program for which funds have been granted. See the Acknowledgement of Support document for more details.

4. Purpose of Funding

Funding shall only be used for the purposes of the program as described in the original funding application. Changes in the activities and timelines or to the structure of the organization shall be reported in writing to and receive approval from the City.

Funds are not available for the following: major capital expenditures, reducing budget deficits, increasing a surplus and fundraising activities. City funds cannot be used to pay for legal costs associated with litigation against the City.

5. Unused Funds

Any portion of the funding that is unused and was designated for activities that were not performed shall be repaid to the City of Ottawa.

6. Assignment of Funding

Neither the Applicant nor the Recipient shall assign this application or funding allocation respectively to a third party. Any funds assigned shall immediately be repaid to the City.

7. Disposal of Assets

For assets purchased either in whole or in part with City funds, the cost of which exceeds $5,000, the Recipient shall not sell, lease or otherwise dispose of those assets without the prior written consent of the City.

8. Repayment of Funding Allocation

The Recipient shall at the request of the City, repay to the City of Ottawa, the whole or any part of the funding allocation, or an amount equal thereto, if the Recipient:

a) Ceases to operate as a non-profit organization
b) Experiences a change in its ownership or control, without prior written consent from the City
c) Is wound up or dissolves
d) Has knowingly provided false information in the application and any attachments
e) Uses funds for purposes other than those detailed in the application
f) Breaches any of the terms and conditions of this agreement
g) Breaches any of the provisions of Human Rights Code, 1981, as amended, or other applicable legislation, regulations, or by-laws in the operation of the program
h) Commences, or has commenced against it any proceedings in bankruptcy or is adjudged bankrupt and the Recipient further agrees to immediately notify the City of the contact information for the trustee in bankruptcy
i) Fails to complete the project

The City reserves the right to demand interest on any amount owing by the Recipient at the current rate charged by the City on accounts receivable.

Where required, the funding allocation shall be repaid by cheque payable to the City of Ottawa, and mailed to:    

City of Ottawa
Cultural Funding Support Section (26-49)
Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department
100 Constellation Drive, 9th Floor West
Ottawa, ON
K2G 6J8

9. Audit Requirements

a) The Recipient shall keep and make available proper books of account and records of the financial management of the Contribution provided under this Agreement, in accordance with generally accepted business and accounting practices.
b) The Recipient shall make its books, accounts and records available at all reasonable times for inspection and audit by the City, its employees, agents and the City of Ottawa Auditor General, to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
c) The Recipient authorizes the City, its employees, agents and the City of Ottawa Auditor General at all reasonable times to inspect and copy any records, invoices and documents in the possession or under the control of the Recipient which relate to the Funding Contribution.
d) The Recipient shall provide annual audited financial statements where the annual contribution is over $50,000. If the contribution is less than $50,000 un-audited financial statements may be submitted.
e) The Recipient shall make available program and governance information for audit purposes.
f) These audit requirements shall survive for three (3) years beyond the termination of this Agreement.

10. Indemnity and Liability

a) The Recipient shall indemnify and save harmless the City from any claims, demands, losses, costs, charges, actions and other proceedings, made or brought against, suffered by or imposed upon the City or its property in respect of any loss, damage or injury, including injury resulting in death, to any person or property directly or indirectly arising out of, resulting from or sustained by reason of negligence or otherwise of the Recipient, its employees, agents, volunteers, officers or directors.

b) The City shall not be liable to the Recipient or any other party in relation to the Funding Contribution and/or the services provided by the Recipient pursuant to the terms of this agreement and the parties agree that the Recipient shall not be deemed an agent of the City for any purpose under this agreement. The Recipient shall be solely responsible for the payment of any individuals employed, engaged or retained by the Recipient for the purpose of assisting it in the fulfilment of its obligations under this agreement.

11. Insurance (as applicable)

Evidence of insurance satisfactory to the City shall be provided prior to the commencement of services under this agreement or upon request, in compliance with the City’s Insurance Services requirements.

The Recipient shall obtain and maintain during the term of the agreement comprehensive general liability insurance acceptable to the City, which shall be subject to limits of not less than five million dollars ($5,000,000) inclusive per occurrence for bodily injury, death and damage to property including loss of use thereof.

*Applicants able to demonstrate significantly low risk in their proposed activity, to the satisfaction of the Cultural Funding Support Section may be allowed to obtain insurance to limits between two to five million dollars depending on the circumstance. Please contact Cultural Funding Support Section for approval.

12. Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Safety

a) The Recipient shall be responsible, where applicable, for the health and safety of its workplace and per compliance with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990. c.O.1, as amended, and its regulations or any successor legislation (“OHSA”) and the requirements under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, S.O. 1997, c.16, Sch. A (“WSIA”).

b) At any time during the term of this agreement, the Recipient shall, when requested by the City, provide evidence of compliance by itself and its subcontractors with respect to the WSIA, and failure to provide satisfactory evidence shall result in payment being held by the City until the City has received satisfactory evidence.

13. Dispute Resolution

(a) if a dispute arises concerning the application or interpretation of this Agreement, the parties will attempt to resolve the matter through good faith negotiation and each party may appoint senior representatives to meet and pursue resolution through negotiation before resorting to litigation.

(b) the City and Service Provider agree that nothing contained in subsection 13 (a) shall affect or modify the rights of the City or the obligations of the Service Provider as set out in the provisions agreed to in this Agreement

14. Reporting Requirements

The Recipient shall submit a final or interim report in the form required by the City twelve (12) months after the receipt of funds or upon subsequent application, whichever is sooner. This report shall provide all details required and be approved by the City. If an extension is required to complete the funded activity, the Recipient will notify and receive approval from the City in writing.

15. Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)

Personal information on this application form is collected under the authority of section 107 of the Municipal Act, 2001 S.O. 2001, C. 25 in accordance with the City of Ottawa Grants and Contributions Policy. 

16. Additional Terms

The City shall be entitled to amend or impose such additional terms and conditions in its letter or approval, in its sole discretion as it deems necessary and shall be entitled to impose such terms and conditions on any consent granted pursuant to this application, as it deems necessary.

These terms and conditions will be appended and incorporated into any additional or supplemental grant or contribution agreement executed between the Recipient and City, in the event such an agreement is required, except for any specific deviations or exclusions outlined therein.

Cultural Funding Terms & Conditions documents have been reviewed by the City of Ottawa’s Legal Services Branch and approved for execution by the City. Alterations to this document are not permissible.

Direct deposit information

Please be advised that over the next year, the City of Ottawa’s Financial Services Unit will be moving to the use of an automated Direct Deposit system solely in providing all payments, including Cultural Funding allocations.

If you have not already registered your organization’s banking information, please complete the Direct Deposit Form [ PDF - 664 KB ] and send to Financial Services mailing address as indicated.

For all inquiries, please contact Financial Services Unit:
Peggy Li
613-580-2424, ext. 13910

Marcel Johnson
613-580-2424, ext. 14633