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About us

About the Cultural Funding Support Unit

The City of Ottawa invests in local culture through its Cultural Funding and Awards Programs. These programs provide support to local not-for-profit cultural organizations, professional artists and heritage workers.

Cultural Funding Programs aim to support arts and heritage activities that reflect the city's many local communities including the Algonquin Anishinabe Host Nation, other First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and all people from a diversity of ancestries, abilities, ages, cultures, genders, sexuality and countries of origin.

All programs are application-based and use a peer assessment model in the evaluation process.

Video presentation of the Cultural Funding Support Unit, its programs, services, and processes.

To receive a copy of the script and presentation materials, please contact infoculture@ottawa.ca

Cultural Funding Support Unit values

The Cultural Funding Support Unit (CFSU) 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, people of colour, persons with disabilities and members of the 2SLGBTQIA communities.

The City of Ottawa is built on unceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory. The CFSU honours the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation as host nation. 

The CFSU is committed to supporting cultural activities that respond to the Calls to Action of 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.

Equity and inclusion committee

The Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) was established in 2019 to assist the CFSU in reviewing the Diversity in the Arts Fund program. Initial work centered on providing the CFSU with 7 recommendations that would ensure increased accessibility to cultural funding to Indigenous and equity-seeking communities (ESC) residing in the limits of the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation or Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.

The EIC used these recommendations to begin the review process of the Diversity in the Arts Fund, and in 2021 assisted in the launch of the re-visioned programmed now called the Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund.

The Equity and Inclusion Committee’s ongoing work

The EIC will be maintained as an integral component of the Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund.

In 2022, the EIC will aim to:

  • further develop the Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund
  • provide essential guidance to the CFSU
  • participate in the peer assessment process
  • look at opportunities to provide mentorship within the cultural arts community

Interested in being part of the change?

The CFSU will be accepting applications from community members to be a part of the 2022 Equity and Inclusion Committee.

To apply, visit the CFSU's online portal and select the Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund.

The deadline to apply for the 2022 committee is Wednesday, November 10, 2021.

Please note that if you are participating as a committee member you will not be eligible to apply to the Equity and Inclusion in the Arts Fund during your tenure.

Equity and inclusion committee recommendations

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

1. Decolonization

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).

2. Reimagining funding processes

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.

3. Capacity building

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.

4. Community engagement

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.

5. Investment

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.

6. Space

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.

7. Portal

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.

Cultural funding during COVID-19

The City of Ottawa understands that the current situation with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents extraordinary challenges for Ottawa's cultural community.

The safety and well-being of everyone is paramount. We recommend staying informed by visiting the Ottawa Public Health website for the latest information including self-isolation and preventing the spread. We also encourage you to visit ottawa.ca for the latest City news regarding COVID-19, including impacted City facilities and services.

We want to reassure you that we are working to expedite funding when possible. We will share more details on the measures we are taking to make this happen as we adjust our processes to a virtual work environment. In the meantime, please see below for some key information.

Operating funding recipients

Our priority is to provide stable operating funding without delays. You will not be expected to have replacement programming for events that are postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19.

Project funding applicants

Projects affected by COVID-19 may be adjusted or delayed without penalty. Please contact your Cultural Funding Officer for details.

We encourage you to reach out to us at infoculture@ottawa.ca with any further questions.