Bookmark and Share
 > Home > Granting programs and awards > New to OAC?

New to OAC?

Who we are

Welcome to the Ontario Arts Council! OAC was established in 1963 to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.

OAC offers more than 50 funding programs for artists and arts organizations based in Ontario, with funds from the Ontario government. Grants provide assistance for specific activities and for the ongoing operating expenses of an organization; we also provide support for a period of time. 

Who we fund

OAC grants are open to professional artists, groups or collectives and arts organizations based in Ontario.

Professional artists:

    • have completed basic training in their artistic discipline or field, either through formal study or by teaching themselves;
    • Are recognized as professional practicing artists by other artists working in the same field;
    • Have a history of public presentation or publication of their work;
    • Spend a significant amount of time practicing their art.

Groups or collectives consist of at least two arts professionals who have come together to undertake a not-for-profit project.

Organizations must actively produce work or actively take the work of professional artists to Ontario communities. There are grants for touring, for producing a specific project, for presenting a specific project, and for producing an annual arts activity. To receive operating funding, an organization must be incorporated as not-for-profit, and must have been incorporated for at least two years.

What we fund

Arts disciplines

Arts practices

Designated Programs

Aboriginal Arts

  • Applications are assessed by Aboriginal arts professionals.
  • Programs are open to Aboriginal artists, elders, groups and collectives, not-for-profit organizations, non-arts organizations
  • All aboriginal artists and arts organizations may apply to any OAC program.

Franco-Ontarian Arts

  • Applications are assessed by francophone arts professionals.
  • Programs are open to Francophone artists and organizations
  • All francophone artists and organizations may apply to any OAC program.

Northern Arts

  • Programs are open to Northern artists, ad hoc groups, collectives and not-for-profit arts organizations with head offices in Northern Ontario
  • Applications assessed by a jury of Northern arts professionals
  • Northern artists and organizations may also apply to other OAC programs

Specialized activities or programs

    top of page

    Types of grants available

    • Project programs are for activity intended to take place once; these grants do not include operating or ongoing expenses. For information about eligibility and assessment criteria see individual project program guidelines.
    • Operating programs are for arts organizations that meet the criteria for ongoing support of their operating expenses. These grants are available on an annual or multi-year basis. For information about eligibility and assessment criteria see individual operating program guidelines.

    Third-party recommender grants

    Organizations that act as third-party recommenders receive applications directly from theatre artists, visual artists and writers, then forward their grant recommendations to OAC for authorization and payment. Grants fund theatre creators who make new work; visual and media artists who want to mount exhibitions; and writers who need time to write.

    OAC also

    • offers awards, prizes, fellowships and scholarships from private funds.
    • initiates arts collaborations and special initiatives that serve the arts community and benefit the people of Ontario.
    • conducts research and statistical analyses of Ontario’s arts and culture sectors, so we can continue to support the province’s arts community.

    top of page

    The application process

    Components of a grant application

    While there are exceptions, most OAC project programs require the following:

      • application form
      • artist(s) statement
      • project description
      • résumé(s) for the artist(s)involved
      • project schedule
      • budget
      • support material
      • letter(s) of support

    General tips to follow when applying for an OAC grant

    • You can download an application form, go to our offices and pick one up or contact us, and we’ll mail one to you. Most application forms and guidelines are available at least three months before the program deadline.
    • We can help you decide which program to apply for. Talk to our Information Services Coordinator about your project idea and find the right program.
      Call 416-969-7429, toll free 1-800-387-0058 extension 7429, or e-mail
    • Read the program guidelines carefully before you apply, and ask the program officer or program assistant if your project is eligible.
    • Write with the passion you have for the project, then edit for clarity. Be detailed yet concise, avoid repetition and check for spelling and grammatical errors! And ask other people to read your application.
    • Figure out your budget. Make sure expenses equal revenues.
    • Don’t underestimate the importance of support material(s).

    top of page


    Almost all programs have an application deadline. Always call OAC to confirm the deadline date in advance. If you’re mailing your application, it must be postmarked (by Canada Post or a courier company) no later than the deadline date.

    Applications may also be hand-delivered to OAC offices at 121 Bloor Street East, 7th floor, Toronto. On the deadline day, OAC will accept your application until 5 p.m. EST. 

    Applications must be complete (photocopied and collated) before they are dropped off. We do not accept applications by fax or e-mail. Late applications will not be accepted, and will be returned to you by mail.

    What happens after you submit your application

    Here is the administrative journey all applications take after we receive them at the OAC.

    1. First we open your envelope and check that your application is complete and that your project is eligible. If you haven’t submitted the required information, or if your project is not eligible, we return your application to you by mail. If you get your application package back, please call us for feedback.
    2. If your application is complete, we enter your data—contact information, project description, amount requested—into the OAC database.
    3. We read every application we receive. When we’re done reading, we invite a jury or an advisory panel of four to six artists or other arts professionals to assess the applications at a meeting.
    4. Juries are generally used to assess grant applications in project programs. In order to choose the grant recipients, juries evaluate applications using specific program criteria in the context of OAC’s strategic priorities.
    5. In programs that don’t have pre-determined grant levels, juries also decide the amount of the grant. The number of grants given out and the amounts of grants are based on program budgets. The jury’s decisions are authorized by OAC’s executive director.
    6. Advisory panels make recommendations about the majority of grants to organizations. The OAC program officer selects the individual advisors who will assess the applications. Advisors may work alone or as part of a panel. If the grant is $30,000 or less, the program officer takes the recommendations to the executive director for approval. Grants over $30,000 are approved by the OAC board of directors.

    OAC granting officers select the jurors and advisors

    Granting officers look for individuals who:

    • have broad knowledge and experience of the relevant art form, arts organizations and related issues.
    • have knowledge of particular regions and communities, and the cultural needs of those communities.
    • demonstrate fairness, objectivity and the ability to articulate opinions.
    • have skills for group decision-making.

    Third Party Recommenders

    An organization in the community acts for OAC to make recommendations for funding. Artists seeking grants give their applications directly to the recommenders, who forward grant recommendations to the OAC officer. Grants are authorized by the executive director.


    top of page

    The Assessment Process

    1. We send a copy of your application to every juror or advisor making decisions about the program you applied to. Each juror/advisors reads every application for that program. (This is why we ask for multiple copies of your application.) The reading process can take several weeks, depending on how many applications we receive.
    2. Jurors/advisors meet at OAC offices to review support materials and discuss the applications. These meetings can take from one to six days, depending on the number of applications.
    3. The program officer chairs the meeting to make sure the process is followed. Officers assist in the decision-making process but do not offer opinions about the applications.
    4. After the discussions, jurors/advisors score each application, using the OAC’s assessment criteria.
    5. OAC collects all the scores, then ranks the applications in order from highest to lowest. The jury then makes recommendations about who will receive grants.
    6. The jury process is confidential. Jurors and advisors are required to keep comments and discussions and the contents of the applications confidential. They are also required to keep their roles as assessors confidential. We publish the names of advisors and jurors when we announce the results of each competition.

    Applications are assessed on the following criteria:

    • artistic merit, impact and viability (for project grants)
    • artistic quality and contribution and organizational effectiveness (for operating grants)

    Learn more

    top of page

    After the Jury

    Once the jury or advisory panel has met and deliberated, the program officer notes their decisions and writes a report, which goes to the executive director and the board of directors for approval. After the jury recommendations are approved, we send letters to all applicants. If your application is successful, we enclose a cheque with your notification letter.

    Grant results are mailed once decisions are made, approximately four months after the deadline. They are posted on the website one month after that, listed by deadline date.

    Logo and Acknowledgement

    We think it’s important to let Ontario taxpayers know when they’ve contributed to an arts activity in their community. Grant recipients are required to acknowledge OAC’s support by featuring the OAC logo on all advertising and informational documents they produce, including websites and other electronic communication. Click here for more information.

    Learn more


    Becoming a Juror or Advisor

    Every year, OAC invites hundreds of Ontario arts professionals to serve as jurors/advisors and evaluate applications to its programs. But you don’t need to wait for us to call you! You can put your name forward, or recommend someone you think has relevant experience. Send us an e-mail at

    top of page


    • Aboriginal: Status and Non-Status, Métis and Inuit people.
    • Artistic merit: the quality of the work based on the artistic statement or vision for the project; the artist’s résumés; support material(s); the project description.
    • Francophone is a person who learned French at home and still understands it.
    • Culturally diverse means people of colour. The term person of colour is based on the Government of Canada’s definition of visible minorities. They are defined as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”
    • Impact refers to how the project will affect the artist(s) involved and the audience or community for whom it is intended based on the project description; support material(s); letter(s) of support; marketing and audience development plans; etc.
    • New generation describes those who are between the ages of 18-30 years old.
    • Regional is an area outside of Toronto. Toronto postal codes begin with M.
    • Viability refers to the project description; letter(s) of support; budget; suitability and experience of the artist(s)involved based on their résumés; and the project schedule.

    top of page