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Ontario Arts Council

Guide to OAC Project Programs

Ontario Arts Council (OAC) project grant programs provide one-time grants for specific projects. Project grants are not meant to cover operating or ongoing expenses.

This guide provides essential information about OAC’s project grants, including eligibility, assessment process and policies. Be sure to review it prior to each application as information and policies are updated regularly and subject to change.

Details on specific project grant programs, including eligibility, are available on the grant program pages.

The guide includes the following:

For information in French or English contact:

Maya Bedward
Information Services Coordinator
Toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7429
or OAC program administrator. Please refer to OAC staff list for contact information.
The OAC is committed to providing services in French according to the requirements of the French Language Services Act.

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Eligibility requirements

Eligible applicants include Ontario-based:
  • individual professional artists and/or arts professionals
  • ad hoc groups/collectives
  • organizations
All applicants must have a permanent physical address in Ontario.

In some project programs, municipalities, colleges/universities, school boards, First Nation and schools administered by a First Nations or Indigenous Education Authority are eligible. For a list of the types of organizations eligible to apply to a particular project grant program, refer to the program’s web page.

An Individual must:
  • be a professional artist/arts professional
The OAC defines a professional artist/arts professional as someone who has developed skills through training or practice, is recognized by artists working in the same artistic tradition, has a history of public presentation or publication, seeks payment for their work and actively practices their art. Short breaks in artistic work history are acceptable.
  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, or have an application pending for permanent resident status and, if requested, be able to provide documentation to verify this.
  • be a resident of Ontario who has lived in Ontario for 12 consecutive months prior to making a grant application, and
  • live in Ontario no less than eight months a year.
Temporary absences from the province
  • You must have lived in Ontario no less than 8 months in the 12 months immediately preceding the deadline for the grant program to which you are applying. Or, if you were temporarily absent from Ontario prior to this application deadline, you absence must have been for no more than one year and must not be recurring.
  • Prior to this absence, you must have been a resident of Ontario who lived in the province for at least 12 consecutive months.
  • During this absence, you must have maintained you residency status and a permanent physical address in Ontario, and must not have applied to public funding agencies/ministries in the jurisdiction of your temporary residence.
Establishing permanent residency
  • If you are new to Ontario or returning to the province after an absence of more than 12 months, you must establish or re-establish Ontario residency for a minimum of 12 consecutive months prior to the deadline for the grant program to which you are applying.
If requested by OAC, you must provide documentation to verify your residency information. Ad hoc groups/collectives must:
  • have 50 per cent of their members residing in Ontario
  • be comprised of at least two members who are Ontario-based professional artists, artistic leaders or arts professionals, who will be responsible for the administration of the grant on behalf of the ad hoc group/collective
  • not be a corporation
  • be able to deposit a grant cheque in the name of the ad hoc group/collective

Note: Ad hoc groups/collectives may be formed for a one-time project (ad hoc group) or have ongoing activity (collective).
Incorporated not-for-profit organizations must:
  • be incorporated in Ontario or federally
  • have a head office in Ontario
  • be governed by a volunteer board of directors or an advisory board
For-profit organizations (book or magazine publishers only) must: 
  • be incorporated in Ontario or federally
  • be an Ontario-based, Canadian-owned book or periodical publisher eligible for funding in OAC’s publishing programs
  • have a head office in Ontario
A college/university must:
  • be Ontario-based
  • present/produce professional Ontario artists, arts professionals and/or arts groups/ collectives and/or arts organizations
  • be registered through the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development
  • have a staff member responsible for arts programming
A municipality, school board, First Nation or school administered by a First Nation or an Indigenous administered authority must:
  • be Ontario-based
  • engage professional Ontario artists or present/produce/publish the work of professional Ontario artists, arts groups/ collectives or arts organizations
  • have a staff member responsible for arts programming
Important: The OAC may request documentation to confirm an applicant's eligibility at any time. If they are unable to provide documentation, their application will be withdrawn or any funds granted must be repaid.

See the full terms and conditions that govern applications to OAC project grant programs.


  • You are not eligible to submit an application to any OAC project program if your final report for a previous grant is:
    • past its due date and has not been submitted
    • past its due date, has been submitted and requires revisions
    • submitted but cannot be approved because of substantial or unresolved issues
  • If your final report is in any of the above states, Nova, OAC’s online granting system, will stop you from submitting an application for a project program deadline.
  • You may only apply for one grant in any program per deadline.
  • You cannot receive more than one OAC project grant for the same activity.
  • You are not eligible to submit more than one project grant application at a time for the same activity. You may re-apply to OAC for the same activity if you have received notification that your first application was not successful. 
  • Third-party recommender programs are an exception – the same activity may be supported by multiple recommender grants. See recommender program web pages for specific eligibility criteria.
Three-grant limit
  • Individuals, and organizations that do not receive OAC operating funding, are eligible to receive up to three project grants awarded from deadlines that fall within the same calendar year, provided each grant is for a different activity.
    • If you apply to three project program deadlines during the year, you cannot submit a fourth until you have received notification that one of your applications has not been successful.
    • If you have already received one project grant in a year, you may apply for only two other project grants at a time; if you have already received two project grants in a given year, you may apply for only one other project grant at a time.
    • If you are awarded more than one grant in a single third-party recommender program year, these grants will count as one grant toward your three-grant limit for 2018. The recommender programs are: Indigenous Visual Artists’ Materials, Exhibition Assistance, Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators and Recommender Grants for Writers. Refer to each program web page for details on the program year and other application and grant amount limits.
    • Market Development Travel Assistance grants awarded in the 2018-19 program count towards a recipient’s three-grant limit for 2018.
  • Operating grant recipients may receive a maximum of two project grants in a year. Refer to each project program page for information on eligible applicants.
  • Grants in these programs are exceptions, and do not count as OAC grants:
    • Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario
    • Indigenous Culture Fund

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Application deadlines

All project applications will be accepted until 1 p.m. ET on the deadline date.
  • The OAC does not accept requests for an extension to submit an application to any project program. You will be unable to submit your application through OAC’s Nova online application system (Nova) after 1 p.m., or revise or add additional materials after you submit your application.

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Nova online application system

To provide better service to OAC applicants, as of 2017, all project programs’ applications including your artistic examples, e.g. video or audio examples, are submitted online through Nova.

You can begin an application two months before a project program deadline. View the Nova User Guide for full, step-by-step instructions on how to set up your profile, start an application, and more.

For the quickest response to questions about completing an application or final report in Nova, please email the program administrator for the program. 

You can begin an application two months before a project program deadline. Once the project program is open in Nova, our bilingual technical support staff will be ready to help with any technical issues.

For information in French or English contact:

Maya Bedward
Information Services Coordinator
Toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7429

For assistance preparing and submitting your application or final report in Nova, OAC’s online granting system, please email the program administrator for the program. 

Paper applications will no longer be accepted. However, OAC is committed to having an accessible application process, so certain accommodations will be made. These are outlined in our Inclusive Application Process Policy.

Project grant applications

Online applications for project programs are designed with several sections, e.g. Artistic Merit, Impact and Viability, to assist assessors in their evaluation of the applications. Project program  applications include questions common to all programs. Each application question will include writing tips specific to each program to assist you to answer questions or submit information on the application. In addition, many project programs require specific information about your project, e.g. a work plan, a list of persons involved in your project and a budget.

Remember, the assessors only know what you tell them. You cannot assume that they will know your work, your community or your cultural context, so be sure in answering the questions that you let them have all the information they will need to understand and assess your project.


Support for Deaf persons or persons with disabilities

Application accessibility support funding

Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability and need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from service providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant in a year. You should request this funding at least six weeks before the project program deadline.

Please be aware that OAC may need advance notice to provide certain alternative formats and additional support in order for applicants to submit their application at the program deadline date.

For additional information, please contact the Information Services Coordinator soon as possible to discuss options.


Supporting accessibility costs for successful applications

Deaf artists and artists with disabilities who apply for a project grant may also include the cost of any anticipated accessibility expenses during the duration of the project.

This fund is open to applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, ad hoc groups/collectives with one or more members who are Deaf or who have a disability, and incorporated organizations that have a mandate to serve Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and are disability-led (e.g. board/staff who are Deaf or identify as having a disability).
  • Eligible expenses may occur during the period of project creation, development, production, presentation and/or engagement.
  • Eligible expenses include costs for making a project accessible to audiences, participants or learners, but do not include capital costs or accessibility supports needed for day-to-day living.
  • Requests for these funds can be made after the point of application. Please contact the program officer who administers the program if you have any questions.
The OAC identifies Deaf artists as distinct from artists with disabilities based on the Canadian Hearing Society’s definition of “Culturally Deaf,” a term that refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people.

The OAC identifies artists with disabilities as people who have physical, mental or learning conditions with long-term, temporary or varying effects that may be apparent or not.

For information about OAC’s Accessibility Standards for Service to the Public Policy click here.

Assessment and decision-making process

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.

There are three peer assessment models used by OAC.
  • Juries are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field.  Juries assess grant applications in project programs and determine which applicants should receive grants. In programs that do not have pre-determined grant levels, juries decide on the amount of each grant.
  • Advisory panels are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field Advisory panels assess grant applications in operating grant programs and some project programs. Advisory panels provide advice and help set priorities for funding – they do not make final decisions on grant amounts. Officers make final grant recommendations to the Director & CEO or to the board of OAC, based on advisors’ assessment, OAC’s strategic plan priorities and policies, the program budget, and the number of applications to the program.
  • Third-party recommenders are organizations chosen from the artistic community to make recommendations for funding on OAC’s behalf in some of programs.
In programs outside the Francophone Arts Sector, assessment panels are held in English. If there are French-language applications in those competitions, at least one assessor is francophone. The OAC provides translation services for all French-language applications submitted to non-Francophone programs. If a competition receives enough French-language applications, a separate meeting with francophone assessors is convened.

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Application assessment

OAC’s project programs are assessed on either artistic merit, or artistic merit/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.

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.

Assessors will receive your application as submitted on the deadline date, including artistic examples and support documents.

Assessors are provided an evaluation rubric to guide their evaluation of applications. For more information, see the Guide to OAC Assessment.


Finding out about a grant decision

When grant decisions are made, approximately four months after the deadline, OAC will inform you by email that the results of your application are available in Nova. Please do not call or email OAC for this information.

Applicants must log into their profile in Nova to view the grant notification letter. 

The OAC sends grant cheques by regular mail.  If you are awarded a grant with no conditions, the payment will be released shortly after notification. If you are awarded a grant as an individual, you must enter your social insurance number and acknowledge the notification letter in Nova before the grant cheque is issued.

Some grants are awarded with conditions. The grant notification letter will describe the conditions that must be met in order to release the grant payment. 

If you get a grant

If you receive a grant you must acknowledge OAC’s support by placing the OAC logo on all printed promotional material and house programs.

At the completion of your project, you must submit a Final Report summarizing the activities for your project and any changes that took place.

If you do not submit a final report, OAC may require you to repay the grant. You, your ad hoc group/collective or organization will be ineligible to submit future applications to any OAC program or receive further grant payments from OAC until the grant is repaid or an acceptable report is submitted.

Funded projects must be completed no more than two years after you receive a grant. (see specific program details)

Some grants are awarded with conditions. The grant notification will describe conditions that may apply to your grant.