This Guide to OAC Assessment Process provides information about Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) application evaluation process including the role and responsibilities of assessors in assessing grant applications.
Every year, OAC invites hundreds of arts professionals in Ontario to serve as assessors – this way the arts community is directly involved in advising us and in making recommendations on grants.
The OAC uses a peer assessment process to make decisions and operates at “arm’s length” from the Government of Ontario. All applications are assessed by professional artists and other arts professionals. The membership of an assessment panel reflects the diversity of the applicants applying for grants, as well as OAC’s priority groups.
The guide includes the following:
The OAC is committed to providing services in French according to the requirements of the French Language Services Act.
The OAC has assessment criteria and rating processes for all project and operating grant programs.
There are three peer assessment models used by OAC.
The OAC’s project programs are assessed by juries and advisory panels.
If a program is assessed by a jury, assessors determine the applications that will be awarded a grant and the grant amount. If a program is assessed by an advisory panel, assessors determine the applications that will be awarded a grant and the program officer recommends grant allocations to the Director & CEO (for grants $30,000 and under) and to the OAC board of directors (for grants over $30,000).
OAC’s project programs are assessed on artistic merit, or artistic merit, impact and viability. The assessment is informed by answers to the questions in each section of the application, artistic examples, support documents and a project budget. Not all programs require a project budget.
For programs that include artistic examples, the examples are an important part in the assessment of the artistic merit of the project. For programs that include budgets, the budget is an important part in the assessment of the viability of the project.
Applications are assessed using a 5-point rating system:
Assessors are provided the Guide to OAC Project Programs Assessment Qualifiers to assist their evaluation of the application.
The OAC’s operating programs are assessed by advisory panels only. The program officer recommends grant allocations to the Director & CEO (for grants $30,000 and under) and to OAC board of directors (for grants over $30,000) based on the:
Your organization will be evaluated in the context of its stated mandate, the scale of its operations and the aesthetic, geographic and/or cultural environments in which it works. In addition, assessors will assess how your organization’s activities address the OAC’s priority groups. Applications for more than $30,000 require more information than applications for less than $30,000.
In some circumstances, an OAC program officer may request a specialized analysis of an organization through a written assessment of an application from an additional assessor. The written analysis will be reviewed by the advisory panel.
Assessors are provided the Guide to OAC Operating Programs Assessment Qualifiers to assist their evaluation of the application.
Artistic Quality (25%)
In assessing an organization’s artistic quality, assessors consider:
Contribution to artists, the art form and the artistic community (15%)
In assessing an organization’s contribution to artists, the art form and the artistic community, assessors consider:
Artistic Contribution to the OAC’s Priority Groups (10%)
In assessing an organization’s artistic contribution to OAC’s priority groups, assessors consider:
For service, training and professional development organizations: Please substitute your membership and/or community constituency for “audience.”
Public Impact (20%)
In assessing an organization’s impact on the public, advisors consider:
Administrative and Financial Viability (20%)
In assessing an organization’s financial and administrative health and operations, assessors consider:
Organizational Contribution to the OAC’s Priority Groups (10%)
Organizations that receive an operating grant are not guaranteed ongoing support.
Assessors are professional artists and other arts professionals who:
Before the assessment meeting assessors must:
Assessors are chosen after considerable thought and research by program officers. The program officers gather information about potential assessors through ongoing, regular contact with their fields. Arts professionals from all cultural communities and regions of the province are encouraged to submit names of potential assessors, including their own. Added to this list on an ongoing basis are recommendations from applicants, assessors and other professionals in the field. Recommended assessors need not be former grant applicants or recipients.
The program officers compose assessment panels that reflect the range of applications, including professional artists and arts professionals representing a diversity of perspectives and expertise. Proposed assessors are approved by the Director of Granting, and the Director and CEO.
Prior to the assessment meeting, the program officer:
The OAC has exacting standards in managing conflict of interest for all its stakeholders – staff, board and assessors. We pay attention to this issue to ensure that we are transparent; that our assessment process is understood by our applicants and that they feel their application was considered fairly, even if it was not successful. To maintain public confidence in our assessment process we must be fair and impartial.
In considering conflict of interest, we identify direct, indirect and perceived conflicts, and manage them differently.
A direct conflict of interest occurs when an assessor or an immediate family member (spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, or member of the immediate household) will benefit financially from the success of an application.
For organizational applications, this would include:
When an assessor is dismissed from an assessment panel for any reason, they will be paid for their work up to and including the day of dismissal.
All discussions and decisions in which assessors are involved, and any information, application materials or audiovisual, digital or documentation that assessors receive or to which they have access in their role as an assessor are confidential. Assessors have no rights whatsoever with respect to this information; all intellectual property rights in the materials provided by the applicant for the purposes of assessment are held by the applicant.
Assessors agree to maintain the confidentiality of OAC Confidential Information. This obligation continues to survive the expiration of their role as an assessor and participation in assessment.
Assessors’ names and locations (i.e. city/town/First Nation) will be posted on OAC’s website and in OAC’s Annual Report Grants Listing, and may be published in other OAC communications as well as part of the Government of Ontario Open Data initiative. Assessors agree that their name and location may be made public in these or similar circumstances.
The OAC observes and upholds the Ontario Human Rights Code. All staff, board members, assessors, consultants and volunteers, when working on behalf of OAC, are expected to respect and follow the letter and spirit of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Code requires equitable treatment in areas such as employment, contracts, goods, services and facilities.
These are the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Code: race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, gender expression, disability, colour, creed, age, marital status, family status and receipt of public assistance.
The OAC supports and protects the dignity and worth of everyone and the rights of all. We provide equitable access to opportunities for all employees, applicants and volunteers. Policies, programs and processes are reviewed to ensure OAC addresses, prevents and eliminates discrimination in all aspects of our employment and services.
We do not tolerate harassment or unwelcome comments and actions. We take prompt action if such problems occur.
In 2010, Canada formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration affirms that Indigenous cultural knowledge is the intellectual property of Indigenous peoples, and its use is controlled by Indigenous peoples. The following excerpts are especially helpful to guide the assessment process:
Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as… artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their… cultures, including… oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
In fulfilling its mandate, OAC serves one of the most diverse cultural, racial, linguistic and Indigenous populations in Canada. Through its programs and services, OAC supports artists, organizations and communities across Ontario, and welcomes all forms of artistic expression and practice.
The Ontario Arts Council has deepened its commitment to serving the diversity of Ontario artists, organizations and communities by developing an equity vision and plan. The following vision guides OAC in its equity work:
We are inspired by and value Ontario’s artists, who help shape our thriving and diverse society and express the richness of our stories, histories and cultures. Therefore, as a public agency, funder and employer, OAC will lead and be responsive and inclusive in supporting diverse artists, artistic practices, arts communities and our own organization.
OAC’s equity plan can be found here.
OAC has further identified groups historically underserved and excluded from arts funding and developed specific inclusive strategies for these groups. Some of these priority groups have a unique history, identity and status in Canada, some have faced historical and/or systemic barriers, others reflect OAC’s province-wide mandate and all are essential to the future of the arts sector.
To read about OAC priority groups, see the program guidelines provided in your package. OAC’s full Strategic Plan 2014-2020 is available here.
We ask applicants and assessors to consider who is telling whose story and who has the right to develop and share cultural expressions and knowledge from any community, particularly marginalized groups or individuals.
In the assessment process, you may consider the applicant’s social, economic and physical barriers, whether historic or continuing, in accessing opportunities to producing and participating in the arts.
If you are a Deaf person or a person with a disability and require accommodation in any stage of the assessment process, please contact the program officer as soon as possible to discuss options.
Click here for more information about OAC’s Accessibility Standards for Service to the Public Policy.
OAC provides written information in alternative formats when requested.
Most assessment meetings are held in person at OAC’s Toronto office, which is accessible by stairs and elevator. OAC’s hallways, doorways and rooms accommodate most mobility devices. Accessible gender-neutral washroom facilities are available in addition to women’s and men’s washrooms. OAC also provides a wellness room with a cot for use by assessors.