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

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

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.

Information for applicants

Funding priorities

Following the peer-assessment evaluations of submitted proposals, the CFSU will look at prioritizing applications from the following Indigenous and 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

Categories of funding

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

Project funding

Available to individuals, collectives and not-for-profit organizations. Projects are to be carried out within a specific timeframe and consist of a single activity. Project budgets must include sources of revenue other than the City’s contribution.

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

Annual operating funding

Available to established, incorporated as not-for-profit organizations that have been in existence for at least two years and have a minimum two-year history of providing regularly-scheduled programming to the community throughout the year. Peer recognition and financial stability must be demonstrated. Organizations must have received at least two consecutive project funding allocations before being considered.

Three-year operating funding

Available to established, incorporated as not-for-profit organizations that have been in existence for at least four years. Applicants must currently receive Annual Operating funding through the CFSU, be recognized by their peers, provide annual programming to the community, demonstrate long-range financial stability and be able to articulate their long-term visioning and planning.

How cultural funding decisions are made

Peer assessment principles

The CFSU uses a peer assessment model in the evaluation process that involves professionals who are active within their cultural community. These 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.

When forming assessment committees, CFSU strives 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 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 résumé to our mailing address or by email to

Peer assessment process

Assessment committees are convened to evaluate funding submissions according to the assessment criteria. Committee members first review the funding applications independently, then meet as a committee to review the applications and support material together. For each application, the committee establishes the funding priority, 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.

Support material

Support material is an essential part of your application. It plays a vital role in the jury’s assessment as it gives the evaluators an indication of the merit of the work proposed and provides documentation of past and proposed activities.

Terms and conditions

All of our funding programs include Terms and Conditions governing the allocation and use of funding. Please read them carefully. By signing the application form, applicants agree to abide by the terms and conditions.

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.

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 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.

An assessor is in a potential conflict if they:

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

Confidentiality of information

Information provided on the application form and/or 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.

Grant writing assistance

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

  • Meet with you one-on-one to discuss eligibility of your project, program requirements and answer any questions about the application and evaluation process
  • Review a draft version of your application. Drafts must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the deadline. Feedback will be provided by telephone within a week’s time
  • Provide peer assessment committee feedback on a previous application. For confidentiality reasons, we may only provide feedback directly to the applicant.

Additional information for applicants

Vulnerable sector policy

If your proposed project includes persons from the vulnerable sector, please contact your Cultural Funding Officer; in certain situations, the CFSU may request additional information such as sample contracts or release forms.

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 and 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.

Cultural funding results

All applicants will receive notification from the CFSU 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 CFSU 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.

In the case of individuals, artistic feedback will not be provided.

Summary report

Every year, the CFSU 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 contain 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 and receive approval from the CFSU.

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 CFSU 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 CFSU, the applicant 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.

How to submit support material

Support material is an essential part of your application and plays a vital role in the jury’s assessment. Include examples that relate most closely to the proposed project. 

Support material must be submitted via links. You may NOT include any support material as attachments to your email submission. You can submit your support material one of three ways:

  1. Submitting support material through a file hosting platform, such as Google Drive, Onedrive or DropBox: Create one folder of your application that includes all supporting documents required: artistic samples, CVs, board list, financials, and promotional material. You must grant us permission to edit and download the files so that we may retrieve them. Include the link and description of your items on the support material pages in the application.
  2. Submitting support material using a file transfer service, such as WeTransfer: If you do not want to upload your support material to a file hosting platform, you can send your application documents using WeTransfer. Create one folder for your application on your desktop. Include all supporting documents required, including artistic examples, CVs, board list, financials, and promotional material. Insert as the recipient. WeTransfer will allow you to select this folder from your computer and send it directly to us, regardless of the size.
  3. Submitting audio and video files through YouTube, Vimeo, soundcloud, bandcamp, etc. links. Include the links to your audio or video recordings on the support material page in the application.

For all submissions:

  • Include your name on each file and folder.  
  • Make sure we have a description of what we are looking at on the material support page.
  • Adhere to the program’s limits on submitting support material. If the supporting documents provided exceed program application limits, assessors will be instructed to restrict their review time.
  • The total time allotted to review all audio and video files in jury cannot exceed 7 minutes per application. Please select your recordings with this time constraint in mind. 
  • Accepted file formats:
    • Text-based documents: PDF
    • Images: .jpg or .png
    • Audio files: .mp3
    • Video files: .mpeg, .mp4 or .wmv
  • All files must be compatible with Windows OS. QuickTime files are not accepted (.mov or .aiff) .
  • Mailed submissions are not accepted. 
  • Test all electronic materials to ensure readability and quality.
  • Please note that the City of Ottawa is not liable for files saved to any of the above mentioned platforms.

Acknowledgement of the City’s support

As a recipient of funding through the Cultural Funding Support Unit, your organization has agreed to acknowledge the financial support[1] of the City of Ottawa in initiatives that will benefit from your receipt of funds. The guidelines for acknowledgement of support are as follows:


By placing the City of Ottawa logo in the relevant section of your organization’s website.

Print materials

By making a written acknowledgement using the following formulation:[Name] gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa. or;

by reproducing the City of Ottawa logo to appear in the acknowledgement section of the following:

  • publicity materials (posters, flyers, postcards)
  • press materials (press releases, press kits)

Verbal announcements

By mentioning support verbally in:

  • public announcements and presentations
  • press conferences
  • speeches


The City of Ottawa logo is available in electronic format from the Cultural Funding Support Section. Please contact:

[1] Please note: Financial support received from the City of Ottawa is a municipal grant; and is NOT considered a sponsorship.

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 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 are working with all levels of government and cultural organizations to ensure that Ottawa's cultural community has appropriate access to any emergency funding that may become available. We will reach out to our recipients if any opportunities for financial relief are announced.

We encourage you to reach out to us at with any further questions.