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Diversity in the arts fund

Program guidelines

Applicants to this fund are encouraged to submit a draft application prior to the deadline date

Deadline: Monday, November 4, 2019 - 4 pm

Late applications will be deemed ineligible.

Funding for indigenous and equity seeking communities

This program is available to not-for-profit organizations, professional collectives, and artists or cultural workers who identify with the following designated communities that have historically faced barriers to accessing support:

  • 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

Program objectives

  • Supports projects that have a cultural art focus and are led or produced in partnership with a professional artist(s), community elder/culture keeper or a professional who is connected to the arts within an identified community
  • Spark and support the creation, production, presentation, exhibition, and dissemination of the arts by Ottawa’s bilingual and culturally diverse community
  • Support cultural education, training and services that impact and build capacity within equity seeking communities
  • Promote the visibility and cultural arts practices of equity seeking communities
  • Support local artists of all disciplines and backgrounds
  • Support community-based artistic activities that celebrate equity and inclusion, and address the Cultural Funding Support Section’s funding priorities for equity seeking communities

Program review

In 2019, the Cultural Funding Support Section (CFSS) launched an Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) to assist in the development and implementation of a funding program that better responds to the City of Ottawa’s Equity and Inclusion Lens, the Renewed Action Plan for the Arts, Heritage and Culture in Ottawa and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

The committee, which will convene over a two-year period, includes 14 individuals who are active in Ottawa’s local cultural sector, who identify with one or more of the CFSS’s prioritized communities and who work within the arts, heritage or festival sector.

In 2020 the EIC will put forward its recommendations and commit to a full review of the Diversity in the Arts Fund program.

Information sessions

The CFSS will be holding drop-in information sessions on the following days:

  • Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 1 pm to 7 pm
    110 Laurier Avenue West - City Hall; Richmond Room
  • Friday, October 11, 2019 from 9 am to 1 pm
    110 Laurier Avenue West - City Hall; Richmond Room

First-time applicants are encouraged to contact Marie-Christine Feraud to ensure eligibility requirements are met at 613-580-2424, extension 23915.

Grant writing assistance

Cultural Funding Officers are available to help you prepare your grant application in the following ways:

  • Meet with you, one-on-one, to discuss eligibility of your project, requirements of the program and answer any questions about the application and evaluation process.
  • Review a draft version of your application prior to the deadline. Drafts can be emailed at any time up until Friday, October 25, 2019 to and feedback will be provided by telephone within a week’s time.
  • Provide peer assessment committee feedback on a previous application that you, or your organization, has submitted.


Who is eligible?

Individuals must:

  • be 18 years or older
  • be a city of Ottawa resident, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation or be Algonquin Anishinabe and live within 150 km radius of Ottawa
  • identify with an equity seeking community
  • be an artist, cultural arts worker, community elder or cultural keeper recognized by their peers within their sector of specialization
  • have a reasonable body of professional work
  • have a history of public presentation, publication or community leadership
  • receive payment for their work and be dedicated to their professional practice

Incorporated organizations must:

  • be led by, or work in partnership with, an artist(s), cultural arts worker(s) or a community elder/culture keeper
  • be not-for-profit and be mandated in either the arts and/or represent/celebrate an equity seeking community
  • have their office/mailing address within the limits of the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation
  • have the majority of their programming and event(s) within the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation
  • have a minimum of 3 members on their Board of Directors
  • have at least 50% of their Board of Director members residing within the Ottawa region

Unincorporated organizations must:

  • be a group of artists and/or cultural arts workers or community elders/culture keepers contributing to a specific artistic goal or a series of common arts/cultural heritage projects
  • receive payment in the name of their collective
  • have their office/mailing address within the limits of the City of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation
  • have the majority of their programming and event(s) within the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation
  • have a minimum of 3 members residing in the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan FirstNation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation
  • have at least 50% of their collective members residing within the Ottawa region

What is eligible?

Eligible projects must be focused on one, or more, of the following objectives:

  • highlight and / or celebrate a prioritized equity community through the arts
  • provide services to artists from prioritized equity seeking communities
  • provide mentorship or training opportunities for artists and/or cultural workers working within the arts sector
  • provide learning opportunities in the arts within equity seeking communities

and must also:

  • occur in the City of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan ZibiAnishinabeg First Nation
  • significantly engage Ottawa’s equity seeking communities
  • demonstrate support for local Ottawa artists
  • be accessible to the broader public
  • be singular in scope and occur within a specific period of time


Who is not eligible?

  • City of Ottawa employee or an elected representative*
  • for-profit organizations / ventures
  • crown corporations and government agencies
  • political parties
  • 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.)
  • organizations that receive operating funding through other programs administered by the CFSS
  • organizations with an accumulated surplus greater than 100% of their total revenue (excluding capital assets)
  • organizations with an accumulated deficit greater that 10% of their total revenue and exceeding $3,000

*City of Ottawa 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.

What is not eligible?

  • fundraising projects and initiatives that benefit a third party
  • commercial ventures, art sales
  • projects involving the manufacture and distribution of product in multiple copies
  • projects where participation is conditional upon partaking in the religious activities of the organization
  • activities that are solely intended for the membership of an organization
  • capital purposes (i.e., purchase of land, equipment, facilities, etc.)
  • projects that have been completed on or before the application deadline date
  • an organization’s full season of programming
  • projects submitted by managers, consultants or agents
  • projects that are part of an academic course of study

Additional restrictions to consider

  • The City of Ottawa will not fund 100% of the total cost of the project; the project budget must include sources of revenue other than the City’s contribution
  • Applicants may only submit one project application at a time within this program
  • Applicants cannot receive more than one funding allocation for the same activity
  • Applicants must submit a final report before reapplying
    If the final report has not been submitted by the deadline date, subsequent applications to this program will not be considered*

*In cases where projects will be completed after the deadline date, applicants agree to complete the project and submit an approved Final Report by the time funding results are announced (February 2020).

Categories of funding

Entry to our programs and movement between funding categories must be approved by the CFSS.

Project funding

Project Funding is available to individuals working in the cultural arts sector and to professional collectives and not-for-profit organizations led by, or partnering with, a professional artist, cultural arts worker, community elder or culture keeper.

Projects are to be carried out within a specific timeframe and consist of either a single activity or a series of activities.

Project grants in recent competitions have rarely exceeded $10,000. Receipt of a project grant in previous years does not guarantee subsequent funding.

Annual operating funding

Annual operating funding is available to established, incorporated not-for-profit organizations that have been in existence for at least two years, represent an equity seeking community, and have a cultural arts or cultural arts festival mandate.

Eligible organizations must have received two consecutive project grants through a CFSS funding program and demonstrate a history of providing regularly-scheduled arts programming to the community. Recognition for strong community impact within equity seeking communities and overall financial stability must also be demonstrated.

Application process

Applicants must complete the Application Form and attach all required documentation. All applications must be submitted in hardcopy either in person by 4:00 pm on the deadline date or postmarked by that date.

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.

Additional information on how funding decisions are made can be found on our website.

Assessment criteria

The peer assessment committee will evaluate your funding request by looking at the overall impact your project will have on the community, the artistic merit of the proposed activities and your capacity to plan, budget and initiate the project.

The peer assessors use the following criteria to evaluate your application:

Community impact

  • Creates engagement and access to under-represented communities through the arts
  • Fosters support to local artists, artisans and cultural arts workers in their artistic practices
  • Promotes cross cultural/community engagement with broader audiences
  • Builds partnerships/relationships with the community of interest and with the broader community
  • Encourages community involvement (audience participation, volunteer support, etc.)

Merit of artistic programming

  • Project reflects the mandate of the organization
    (for organizations only)
  • Artistic/cultural activities are relevant to the community of interest
  • Clear and detailed artistic goals and objectives
  • Qualified artistic leadership


  • Skills and means to plan and complete a successful project
  • Governance, leadership structure and participation of the Board/Steering Committee
    (for organizations only)
  • Sound fiscal planning and realistic budgeting
  • Effective and appropriate marketing and promotion
  • Demonstrated need for financial support

Support material

All applicants must submit support material which will be reviewed by the evaluation committee. It plays an important role in the assessment of the application as it gives the evaluators an indication of the merit of the work proposed and provides documentation of past and proposed activities.

Please do not send originals. The CFSS does not have the facilities for their proper care and storage. The City of Ottawa retains printed materials such as program books, brochures and critical reviews. The applicant agrees that the City of Ottawa is not responsible for loss or damage, however caused, to support material.

Allocation of funding

An applicant’s success in obtaining funding depends upon the peer 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.

Cultural funding results

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

All results are final. There is no appeal of peer assessors’ decisions regarding the merit of your proposed activities or the peer assessment committee’s recommendation of a funding 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.

Summary report

Every 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

If you are awarded funding, your notification will include the approved funding amount, as well as 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 CFSS 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 CFSS, 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 sent to all successful applicants.

Letter of welcome from the mayor

If your organization wishes to request a Letter of Welcome from the Mayor to be included in your event program and/or brochure, please contact the Communications Officer, Mayor Support Service Unit, at 613-580-2424 ext. 28868.

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.

Application forms & contact information

Drop-in information sessions

The Cultural Funding Support Section will be hosting two drop-in information sessions on Tuesday September 18 and Wednesday September 19 between 2pm-4pm. The sessions will take place at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West in the Richmond Room.

2020 Application form

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 inquiries

For specific information on your submission, or to discuss eligibility, contact:
Marie-Christine Feraud
Cultural Funding Officer
613-580-2424 ext. 23915

General inquiries

For general information or to request an application form, contact:
613-580-2424, ext. 29404

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

Equity and Inclusion Committee Recommendations

The CFSS Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) submits the following recommendations to the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Funding Support Section to increase accessibility to cultural funding for equity-seeking communities (ESC);


Develop an inclusive process throughout program development, implementation and funding allocation to ensure active and full participation of all communities (self-determination).

A redefinition and reclamation of arts, histories, heritage and culture to ensure that all cultural expressions are reflected and valued (Intent and mission).

Support ongoing culturally-sensitive conversations/gatherings to ensure awareness of ESC realities as they relate to City’s policies and programs (awareness training).


Redefine funding process and programs to remove barriers to ensure access for ESC including online support, supplementary funds for accessibility expenses, translation services, technical assistance, plain language review, program re-design and relevant funding streams.

Developing a new holistic funding model based on a collaborative and community-based approach.

Re-defining the process of values as it relates to application merit, assessment criteria and program eligibility.


Maintaining targeted funding programs that provide operating and project grants to ESC applicants.

Establish and support mentorship opportunities to assist ESC applicants.

Supporting community leaders to host events/gatherings that celebrate and share successes of ESC funding applicants through promotional, venue and production support.

Promote collaboration and information sharing within ESC by engaging community leaders to act as ambassadors.

Hire City of Ottawa staff that is reflective of equity seeking communities.


Hiring cultural ambassadors who represent ESC to engage with their communities to promote funding opportunities, implement programs and encourage and support applications.

Commitment to follow the 5 steps of the community engagement continuum to empower ESC: inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and empower.


Maintaining targeted funding programs that provide operating and project grants to ESC applicants.

Dedicate a sustainable funding envelope for ESC applicants.

Provide funding to cover eligible costs related to access to space and living expenses.


Development of a framework where affordable and safe spaces across the City are made accessible to equity-seeking artists and cultural workers. The spaces selected should be physically, geographically (rural and suburban), financially affordable, and provide a safe and unbiased culturally appropriate place for creation, production and presentation.

Spaces that are not traditionally used by artists be re-purposed to become more inclusive for ESC, with incentives for business, investors, and various stakeholders to share their space with artists.

Ensure that City-owned spaces have established policies that allow access to equity-seeking artists and cultural workers.


In addition to offline support and engagement, fund an online portal to centralize resources, tools, best practices, and celebrate past recipients’ success stories. This portal will be a platform to connect applicants with mentors, elders, past recipients and other experts.

Develop an online granting process.