Canada Council for the Arts has money for you!!

For all you struggling artists out there, no matter what form of expression you are engaged in, money is waiting. The Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) was established in 1957 to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. They offer grants and services to professional and non-professional artists and arts organizations in dance, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, writing, publishing and performance arts. A priority for them since the late 1980s has been the development of programs that meet the particular need of Aboriginal artists.

For almost a decade now, the First People’s Secretariat has been forging relationships between the Aboriginal arts community and the CCA. In 1996, the Council launched its first program targeted to First Peoples in the writing and publishing section. Today, there are seven programs designed specifically for Aboriginal artists and arts organizations. They are:

-Support to aboriginal peoples dance organizations and collectives.

-Aboriginal media arts program.

-Aboriginal peoples music program.

-Development support to aboriginal theatre organizations.

-Assistance to aboriginal curators for residencies in the visual arts.

-Grants to aboriginal writer, storytellers and publishers.

-Aboriginal peoples collaborative exchange: national and international –travel.

The contest closing dates vary from program to program. Aboriginal artists can apply to any program offered by the CCA for which they are eligible, (not only those under the aboriginal secretariat) for amounts ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. Many aboriginal artists have received Canada Council grants over the years. For example, Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk received help to produce his award winning film Atanarjut.

Last week the aboriginal representatives from the Canada Council held a meeting in Montreal with some artists from Quebec to find out how they could better meet the needs of artists from this province. Over the years they have noticed that there have not been many applications coming from this part of the country. They came here to try to determine why and what they could do to help increase the number of applications. One of the major issues put forward by attending artists was the whole process of applying: filling out the application forms and providing the other written work that is required, explanations of the proposed project, budget proposals, sample of work, etc. Many people find it confusing and overwhelming.

The other issue brought up was the whole label of “artist.” Many nations do not use such terms to describe what it is they do and are sometimes not recognized within their own community as an artist. Also, what the CCA defines as “art” does not necessarily include what it is that Native people do.

The agents at the CCA have tried to address these concerns in recent years to make the process easier. The aboriginal agents responsible for each program are there to help and answer any questions you may have. There is a 1-800 number as well as e-mail addresses to get in contact with an agent for each program. While they cannot fill out the application for you, they can set you on the right path and guide you through the tricky sections, such as finding out what program you should be applying to.

The website is full of useful information and answers some frequently asked questions to help make the application process easier.

All applicants are evaluated by a peer assessment committee, which means that if you are a musician, other musicians will evaluate your submission and so on. The members of the committee are chosen to be representative of official languages, genders, aboriginal peoples, regional and ethnic diversity and genres of expression within the artistic discipline.

On average, in recent years, about one in six eligible applicants received a grant, although the rate varies from competition to competition. Everyone who applies is informed of the decision either way within two to three months after the closing date and can continue to apply every completion. So go ahead, take that chance!

Aboriginal Arts Secretariat – Canada Council for the Arts 350 Albert St. P.O. Box 1047 Ottawa, On K1P5V8

Tel: 1-800-263-5588 ext 5060 for general info.

Hearing impaired with TTY machine: 613-565-5194 Fax: 613-566-4390 Website: e-mail: