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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

For general information in French or English contact:

416-961-1660 or toll free: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 0

For information on specific programs, contact OAC staff listed on the program web page or see the OAC staff list

The OAC is committed to providing services in French according to the requirements of the French Language Services Act. For services in French, see staff listed on program web pages on the French pages of OAC’s website and staff listed as bilingual on the OAC staff list

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.

Applicants must meet program and OAC eligibility criteria at the time of application submission.

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 18 years of age or older
  • 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

To establish residency in Ontario, you must have lived in Ontario for at least 12 consecutive months before submitting an application. This applies to new Ontario residents and former Ontario residents returning after frequent or long-term absences.
As an Ontario resident, you may be absent from the province only under the following circumstances to maintain your eligibility:

  • If you are absent from Ontario on a recurring basis, such absences must not exceed four months (cumulatively) of the 12 months before the submission of your application. This applies even if you kept an address in Ontario during your absence.
  • If you are absent from Ontario on a temporary, one-time basis (e.g. for a residency, contract), such an absence must not exceed 12 months of the 12 months before the submission of your application. You must also have been in Ontario for at least 8 months of the year preceding an absence of this length. During this absence, you must not have applied to public funding agencies/ministries in the jurisdiction of your temporary residence.

If requested by OAC, you can, at any time, 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 meet the eligibility requirements for individuals listed above and 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 2019. The recommender programs are: Indigenous Visual Artists’ MaterialsExhibition AssistanceRecommender 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 2019-2020 program count towards a recipient’s three-grant limit for 2019.
    • Grants awarded through the Arts Response Initiative and through Accessibility Fund: Project Support do not count towards a recipient’s three-grant limit.
  • 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.

Project grant online applications

All OAC grant applications are submitted through OAC’s online granting system, Nova. Applications are available approximately two months before a project program deadline.

All application material and related subsequent documents/information must be submitted in Nova.

Note: OAC offers the following alternative services and application processes:

Note: All individuals working on an application for an organization (including ad hoc groups/collectives) must create a Personal Profile in Nova and link it to the organization’s profile. See the Nova User Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to set up profiles, start applications, and more.

Each program web page links to the application questions and lists what you need to apply.

Application deadlines

Project grant applications are accepted no later than 1 p.m. ET on the deadline date.

  • Nova will prevent you from submitting an application after 1 p.m.
  • Once an application is submitted, no changes or additions can be made to it.
  • An application cannot be transferred to a different applicant.
  • The OAC does not give extensions in order to allow an applicant to submit an application after a deadline.

Withdrawing an application

Reasons for withdrawing an application:

  • The applicant does not meet the program eligibility.
  • The application is incomplete.
  • The applicant has requested that the application be withdrawn.

Timing for withdrawing an application:

  • Applications will only be withdrawn after a program deadline has passed (except for programs with open deadlines).
  • Applications can be withdrawn at any time in the assessment process.
  • It may take up to 5 business days for OAC to respond to a request for withdrawing an application.
  • Applicants will be notified by OAC if their application is withdrawn.

Note: If you want to withdraw your application from a recommender program, you must contact the recommender directly to make a request.

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 more information, please contact the Deaf and Disability Arts Program Officer as 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 more information, see OAC’s Alternative services and processes for Deaf persons and persons with disabilities and the Accessibility Plan.

Assessment and decision-making process

The OAC uses a peer assessment process to make grant decisions in most programs. See the Guide to OAC Assessment for information on the peer assessment methods that OAC uses: juries, advisory panels and third-party recommenders. The Guide also includes information on the role and responsibilities of assessors, conflict of interest policies, etc.

For information on assessments of applications submitted in French outside of the Francophone Arts section, see Assessment of French language applications in 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. Applicants must log into their profile in Nova to view the grant notification letter. Please do not call or email OAC for this information.

Grant notification letters include, as applicable:

  • status of the grant: Awarded, Denied or Withdrawn
  • recommended grant amount
  • conditions that must be met in order to release the grant payment(s), including a deadline for meeting conditions

If you are awarded a grant as an individual, you must:

  • enter your social insurance number
  • acknowledge the notification letter in Nova

These must be done before the grant cheque is issued.

Grant payment

The payment of your grant will be held if you or your co-applicant (if applicable) have a final report that is in any of the following statuses:

  • overdue
  • revisions required
  • not approvable
  • submitted
    • Note that “submitted” final reports have not yet been reviewed by OAC staff and this may take a number of days. In this case, no action is required from you.

The OAC sends grant cheques by regular mail.

If conditions are not met, the grant will be forfeited and not paid.

Assessment feedback

In many OAC programs, you may request that the OAC program officer provide a verbal summary of your application’s assessment. Exceptions include programs such as Visual Artists Creation Projects and Literary Creation Projects – check your notification letter to see if feedback is available for the program you applied to.

If you get a grant

If you receive a grant you must:

  • publicly acknowledge OAC’s support by placing the OAC logo on all printed promotional material and house programs
  • contact the program officer to request permission to make any significant changes to the purpose, key artists/collaborators, or work plan including duration and location(s) of the funded activity. Approval must be received before the change can take place.
  • submit a final report when you complete your project
    • final reports must be submitted by the due date indicated in Nova
    • if your final report budget shows a surplus of more than $250, you may be required to repay the surplus amount to OAC

If you do not submit a final report or do not complete your project, OAC may require you to repay the grant.

Final report extensions

If you need more time to complete your project, you must send an email to the program officer requesting an extension on your final report due date. You may be asked for information about what part of the project has been completed, updated timeline and plans. If the extension is approved, a new final report due date will be updated in your Nova Profile.

See the Terms and Conditions for receipt of OAC project grant funds.