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Ontario Arts Council

Artists in Communities and Schools Projects program

May 2017

A webcast produced in 2017 about the Artists in Communities and Schools Projects program with Ontario Arts Council Officers, Nas Khan and Christina Akrong and Program Administrator, Philippe Mesly.

For up-to-date information about this program including changes and current deadlines, visit Artists in Communities and Schools Projects.

Artists in Communities and Schools Projects Program – Webcast Transcript



Hello all, welcome to this webcast for the Artists in Communities and Schools Projects program. I'm Nas and I'm one of the officers supporting this program and I'm joined by my colleagues, Philippe and Christina. We will take turns speaking throughout this video. This webcast will provide general information about the granting program including:

There are other presentations available to help make an application, including one specific to this program called applying as a non-arts partner. There is also a presentation to help you navigate the online granting system so be sure to check out these online resources. Throughout this presentation we'll be reading slides as needed and necessary and describing images on the slide just as a good accessibility practice.


Community Engaged Arts


So, what is community-engaged arts? Community-engaged arts practice can be broadly defined as a creative process or processes that involve professional artists with participants. Artists and participants work together in the design, planning and realization of projects in in varying degrees of involvement in those projects stages and this of course comes with varying degrees of focus on co-creation, collaboration, and skills development within the project. Artists collaborating in classrooms with teachers to support student learning is community-engaged arts. Artists working with personal support workers on finding their voice through a creative endeavor is also community-engaged arts.


Community-engaged arts practices happen in many places and spaces and these can include collective or individual artistic expressions. An example of this would be a group of artists working with non-artists producing a play about their lives. It could also be a group of artists with non-artists that are having each of those participants produce their own unique video as a part of a project. The artistic process is just as important as the final artistic product in community-engaged arts and both the artistic and social outcomes of a community-engaged art project are valued.


If you're interested in learning more about community-engaged arts practice, OAC has recently published Framing Community a handbook on community-engaged arts. The front cover of that resource appears here on this slide. You can find this handbook on our website: so if you go to News & Resources, in this section click on Resources on the right-hand column, and use the keyword search by entering "Framing Community," you should find that resource.


Artists in Communities and Schools Projects Program


So now that we've established a general understanding of what community-engaged arts practice is, we want to just tell you a little bit about the intention and purpose of the Artists in Communities and Schools Project program. The purpose of this program is to support the research, development and realization of community-engaged arts projects. The key priorities are to support projects that work with sectors beyond the arts to reduce barriers to the arts, to arts participation, and to increase access to the arts for underserved or marginalized communities.


Funding Categories


This is Christina. Let's talk about funding categories.


The consultation category supports the very early stages of a project: taking time to talk with people, ask questions, develop relationships and partnerships, and pay the people involved for their time.


The research and development category supports the phase of the project where you're working closely with your community or school partners to design your project together. You can also include the participants in this development phase. You can, for example, spend time in the organization or in the school, getting to know the people, the spaces, developing the project collaboratively.


The project category supports the realization or implementation of your project. This could pay for artists' fees, the cost of materials and supplies, equipment rentals, travel and accommodation, insurance, police checks, planning and preparation time, venue rentals, etc. The project length is up to you and your partners to decide. If you apply in this category, you can also include consultation or research and development activities in your proposal. You don't have to limit different phases to different categories.


The project plus mentoring for priority group artists provides additional funds incorporated for mentorship. The mentorship element is specifically for artists who are members of OAC priority groups to be mentored in project development and facilitation skills. So, that means Indigenous artists, artists of colour, Francophone, Deaf artists and artists with disabilities, artists between the age of 18 to 30, and artists living outside of Toronto or the M postal code. This can either be that you the applicant are going to mentor someone who's a member of an OAC priority group or it could be that you as an applicant who is a member of a priority group accessing this funding to be mentored and paying mentor fees.


The two-year funding category for orgs and collectives is available to community-engaged arts collectives and organizations that have received two or more OAC project grants through Community-Engaged Arts or Arts Education grant programs within the last five years. Please contact us to ensure your eligibility for this category.


Who Can Apply


Hello this is Philippe. I'm going to talk about who can apply.

This program is open to:
  • Individual professional artists who may apply on their own; or
  • With the help of a co-applicant (in which case the grant would be divided between the two applicants);
  • Arts collectives;
  • Arts organizations;
  • Non-arts organizations that are not-for-profit;
  • School boards may apply provided that they are not currently in an Artist in Residence (Education) partnership with OAC;
  • Schools administered by First Nations or Indigenous education authorities may also apply to the program.

Otherwise, schools can be partners in a project but may not apply directly to the program. If a school is interested in applying for this program they will need to partner with one or more eligible individual artists, arts collectives or ad-hoc groups, or arts organizations. If you'd like more information or would like to find out whether your school is eligible please contact one of the program officers.


Next, we're going to look at health care collaborations. There is specific funding in the program for artist and health care collaborations. This is an envelope of funds for projects involving an arts partner, being an individual artist, arts collective, or arts organization, and a health care facility or group, for instance, a hospital, community health center, long-term care facility, or mental health and addiction services organization. One of these must be funded through the local health integration networks, or LHINs. LHINs are regional funding bodies that distribute funding from the Ministry of Health to eligible health service agencies. You can find LHINs by googling: "Ontario local health integration network."



On the screen right now is an image of Aanmitaagzi's dance ensemble performing "Dances of Resistance" in an outdoor setting. The photo is by Liz Lott.


So the program that we've been talking about, Artists in Communities and Schools, has four deadlines a year and these occur every three months. We hope that this helps you in maintaining ongoing relationships with partners and communities over the course of projects. You'll be able to apply a number of times in the course of the year for different initiatives as well. You are limited to receive three project grants per year. This includes all project programs at the OAC.


You can begin working on your application two months before the deadline and submit it at any time during that period. There are additional limitations for organizations that receive operating support so be sure to check with your operating program officer before applying to this program. Do also note that grant notification will be available approximately three months after each deadline.


Parts of an Application


So, parts of an application: as you prepare your application, there are four main elements that go into making that application and they are listed on the slide onscreen right now. The application questions are one piece of the puzzle and you can find those online in our granting system and each question is accompanied by writing tips.


We will be going into more detail about the other three components listed here on the slide, which includes artistic examples, support documents, and budget, and of course including some tips for applying.


Artistic Examples


So starting off with Artistic Examples. On the screen is an example of artist work. It's an image of a flat rock sculpture and three people's hands touching it. The work was completed through the Countdown Public Art Project facilitated by Red Dress Productions and the photo was taken by Loree Lawrence.


So this program requires two different types of artistic examples:

  • Professional practice examples, which are examples of work created by the professional artist or artists involved in the project. What not to include would be media reports clippings, brochures, posters, and self-promotional material in which you're talking about your projects or your practice.
  • Community-engaged examples and on the screen is an image that comes to us from DAREarts; singer/songwriter Glenn Marais is leading a songwriting workshop for Indigenous youth at Simon Jacob Memorial Education Center in Webequie First Nation. The photo is taken by Alan Dunlop.

Community-engaged examples are any documentation of a community-engaged project that you, the artist engaged in the project, facilitated or led. It demonstrates your ability to facilitate arts process by showing examples of the final product and/or the creative process. They could include an audio recording of a song you helped participants write, still images or video recording of community members working with you as examples.


The picture on this slide shows students actively engaged in the activity. If this was support material for an application, the artist would also send an audio file for the song and probably send the lyrics as well. For performing arts examples, video and audio is the best type of material but images can also be strong particularly when they show an active session.


Guidelines about support material can be found in the online application. What's important to remember is that assessors will review all the artistic examples combined for only up to five minutes. So, when you're considering how much to send, keep that in mind.


The amount of material you can submit in total, between your professional practice examples and your community engaged examples, is no more than five minutes of audio/visual (or, four files), or no more than 20 images, or no more than 20 pages of literary examples, or music scores, or a combination of the above.


If you have community-engaged examples, you're evenly submitting the amount of material you send between your professional practice and your community-engaged examples. If you don't have community-engaged examples, you're only sending half of what we've just discussed of artistic examples only and then you must submit two letters of reference. Letters of reference are strongest when they're written by staff members of organizations or teachers at schools where you have facilitated projects. Alternatively, you could provide letters of reference from artists or community members who can speak to the merit, impact, and viability of your work.


There is a Guide to Support Material on our website and there are also videos about effective support material and how to prepare it.


Other Support Documents


Let's now look at the third component of your application: other support documents. As support documents, you must submit letters of confirmation if you're applying the following categories:

  • Research and development;
  • Project
  • Project plus mentorship; or
  • Two-year project.

That is, any of the categories, except for consultation. Letters of confirmation are written by partners to demonstrate their intention to work with you, why they see the benefit of the work and what they are contributing to the project.
Second, you'll need resumes or bios. These should be brief. Individual resumes should be no more than two pages if there are multiple lead artists and key staff on the project. It is recommended that you provide bios rather than resumes.


Tips on Application Questions


Moving on to give you some tips for application questions:

  • Answer the “what and how of what you will do”. This means to always detail the specifics of your collaboration, how you will be planning, how the creative process will unfold, and this is especially important for the very first question that you will see under the Artistic Merit section of the application questions.
  • Explain discipline-based practices, processes, and/or terms. The assessors for the Artists in Communities and Schools program is made up of artists from all different disciplines, art forms, and artistic practices. If you are using terminology that is very unique to your practice it's important that you explain those terms, processes, or approaches. For example, you might be using forum theatre as part of your project; for non-theatre practitioners, they might not be aware of what that means and what the related processes and practices look like. You would want to explain that.
  • Be specific about inclusionary practices and outreach strategies. It's important to provide the specific steps that you will take, especially in community-engaged arts projects. There are several questions in the application that will ask you specifically about these practices and outreach strategies.
  • Align budget and budget notes. There are several places in the application in which you enter information about budget. One place is in the text of the application questions under the viability tab, in the budget form itself, and finally you can also attach budget notes. Be sure that all of these areas reflect the same numbers; it can be confusing for assessors if you state different amounts, so take care to double-check.
  • Break down any fees by hourly rate. It's important to provide hourly rates for artists, coordinators, rentals when and where possible. It's helpful for people to have a better sense of the cost of your project.


Grant Writing Tips


Here are some tips for writing your grants.

  • Don't be afraid to call the program administrator or officer before the deadline. OAC grant staff are here to support you in making an application. If you have any questions, feel free to call us.
  • Get others to review your application. It is good to get others who are not involved in your project to review a draft. This can help identify areas that need more explanation. They can also help proofread.
  • Spell check! Spelling doesn't count in assessment but having lots of errors in your application can make it harder for someone to understand what you are writing. Take care to review.
  • Don't underestimate support material and documents. Your support material is important. Make sure you send support material that honors your practice as an artist and your community-engaged arts practice.
  • Be detailed but concise. Don't repeat. There are word limits in the online form. Knowing this, you can redirect the reader to a different section if you already answered the question.
  • When working on a budget, start with expenses. Starting with the expenses in the budget can define how much funding you need to ask for or seek out to support your initiative.
  • Finally, call for feedback. If you are not successful or if you are successful, you can call us for feedback on your assessment: 416-961-1660, or 1-800-387-0058.

Completing your Application Online


A few more tips for using our online granting application.

  • Start with support material upload. Starting with the support material upload puts the most time-consuming task, over which you don't have control, first.
  • Validate often and save often, even after each question.
  • Complete your application well ahead of the deadline. A reminder that the deadline is now 1 p.m. eastern time on the date given.
  • There can be server delays once you press Submit. Just like email, it's not immediate.
  • Last, if you have problems, call us. We'll connect you to tech support if we can't personally answer your question.


Application Assessment Process


So, once you've submitted your application, there is an application assessment process and this application goes through particular steps that we have here at the OAC. As officers, once we receive all of those applications and have read them, we then select assessors to be part of the panel. This assessment team will reassess and make decisions about which applications receive grants and how much. These people are just like you. They are artists and arts administrators working across Ontario.


Assessment criteria are available on our website but overall, each application is evaluated on artistic merit, impact, and viability. Assessors read and review all materials submitted and pre-score before meeting. In that meeting there's discussion and they then do a final score and provide final funding decisions to the officer. The OAC website will soon have available the Guide to Assessment for assessors which can help you understand how they are instructed. Please check out our website.


Where to Find Information about OAC Grants


If you haven't already done so, you can find it at: www.arts.on.ca. You'll find not only information about OAC grants but also many other resources, many of which are listed here. So I'll speak to a few of them.


The Survival Guide is a publication which offers many, many tips to applying. Note: information in the survival guide does not reflect the new online application process.


The Framing Community workbook, which Nas already introduced is available for reading there; as well as an Indigenous protocols video which you can find a link to which is on YouTube. You can either search for it on YouTube or you can find it linked from our first page.


The support material videos as well and we also have a deadline brochure which is a very small pocket calendar which lists all programs and their deadlines which you can ask for in hardcopy either by emailing us or calling us and we'll put that in the mail for you.


The image credit on this page shows an artist, Flaminia Fucci, demonstrating juggling skills in Circus Berzerkus and this photo was taken by Dawn Barrett.




Here are a few resources to help you familiarize yourself with the OAC and give you some background for your application.


The latter two can be found on our website, as well as articles 11, 13, and 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


These can help you understand some of the content of the questions in the application form, help you understand what the Ontario Arts Council's overall intention is, and finally understand what it means that OAC has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in our assessment process.


OAC Services and Supports


There are a few other OAC services and supports that we'd like to make mention of. First of all to let you know that OAC has an Information Services Coordinator, Maya Bedward. You can email Maya at mbedward@arts.on.ca or call 416-969-7429.


She's available to answer general questions about all OAC programs. She can also share information about OAC's Accessibility Fund. This is a fund for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. It supports the costs of making an application with support from a service provider. Accessibility funding can also be requested in your project program application which is over and above the maximum request amount in the program. For more information about accessibility funds, to check if you're eligible to apply for them or to check what expenses are eligible, please contact Maya or any of us on the Engaging Communities and Schools team.


If you require technical support for completing your application online please contact the program administrator, Philippe at pmesly@arts.on.ca or 416-961-1660 ext. 5144.


And I'd like to let you know about the picture on this page. We see Heidi Languille leading a workshop at an elementary school as part of Ottawa Inuit Children Centre's programming.


On this final slide are the images, names, and contact information for the staff supporting this program:


We're here to assist you if you have questions about the program or if you'd like to discuss your project. We hope you found this information helpful, we encourage you to contact us with any questions. Thank you and best wishes.



Take care!