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Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
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Maggie Lucas

Program Administrator
Toll-free in Ontario: ​​​​​​​​​​1-800-387-0058

Erika Iserhoff

Toll-free in Ontario: ​​​​​​​​​​1-800-387-0058

Indigenous Arts Projects

Until this program opens in Nova, the Ontario Arts Council’s online granting system, program information may change. This includes deadline dates and specific information on eligibility. Be sure to visit this page after the program opens in Nova, but before starting your application.


The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) supports Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) creativity and celebrates the vitality of diverse cultural and artistic expression.


Indigenous Arts Projects is a multidisciplinary program supporting professional Indigenous artists, ad hoc groups, collectives, and organizations to research, develop, and create new work. The presentation and sharing of Indigenous artistic work and initiatives strengthens and enriches the arts and culture overall, while benefiting both Indigenous artists and their communities.


The program is open to emerging, mid-career, and established Indigenous artists and arts professionals. It welcomes applicants working in both customary/traditional and contemporary Indigenous art expression.


Indigenous OAC staff members administer the program, and applications are assessed by juries comprised of Indigenous artists.


The program has three categories:

  • Indigenous Individuals
  • Indigenous Ad hoc groups and collectives
  • Indigenous Organizations

Important: All individuals working on an application for an organization (including ad hoc groups and 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 video instructions on how to set up profiles, start applications, and more.


Grants help cover the costs of:

  • research and development that will lead to the creation of new work
    • Artistic research, exploration and experimentation, including workshops and residencies, are eligible.
  • creation and production of new work in art forms funded by the OAC
  • presentations, exhibitions, publications and festivals in which the primary purpose of the project is to promote and distribute work by Indigenous artists
  • connections and partnerships that bring artists together through events such as conferences, workshops, gatherings, delegations, and exchanges to foster relationships that strengthen the Indigenous arts community overall

Note: Applicants may apply to only one category.


Disciplines funded by the OAC:

  • Dance
  • Literature
  • Media arts
  • Multi and inter-arts
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual arts and craft


  • Projects that contribute to the development and growth of the arts and culture in Indigenous communities in Ontario.
  • Projects that recognize and value the distinctive nature of the artistic and cultural expression of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Projects that involve, support and pay fees to Indigenous artists.
  • Projects that provide audiences with access to Indigenous artistic and cultural expression and experiences.

Deadline date(s)

April 24 and October 16, 2024, 1 p.m. ET
  • The application form will be available in Nova about two months before the deadline.
  • You will find out whether you got a grant about four and a half months after each deadline.
  • OAC can arrange offline submissions for persons with limited internet access and oral applications for Indigenous persons. For additional information, read the Alternative Services and Application Processes page or call the program administrator.  

Grant amount(s)

  • Indigenous Individuals: maximum $15,000
  • Indigenous Ad hoc groups and collectives: maximum $20,000
  • Indigenous Organizations: maximum $25,000
  • This program is for Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Métis) applicants only. In the application you will be required to state your Indigenous nation and community and clearly speak to your lived experience.
  • Community-engaged arts projects and artistic projects taking place with non-arts professionals in communities and schools are eligible in the Indigenous Artists in Communities and Schools Projects
  • Vulnerable sector screenings are required for those working directly with vulnerable groups. For more information visit Safe Programming Requirements .
  • Consult the program officer if you wish to discuss your eligibility, or other details about your project.
  • Due to the number of applications received and the limited funds available, grants awarded may be smaller than the amount requested.
  • Individual applicants who receive a grant over $500 will be issued a T4A, including individuals who apply on behalf of a group.

Recent changes

  • Individual applicants must be 18 years of age or older to apply.
  • The application questions and evaluation rubric have been reworked to better align with OAC’s current strategic plan.

Eligible applicants

  • Professional artists and arts professionals (emerging, mid-career, or established) who are First Nations, Inuit, or Métis, and are residents of Ontario
  •  Ontario-based ad hoc groups and collectives comprised of a minimum of 50 per cent Indigenous members
    • Note: All members must be professional artists or arts professionals. At least 50 per cent of members must reside in Ontario (or both members in the case of two-person collectives).
  • Indigenous-led Ontario-based not-for-profit Indigenous arts organizations, non-arts organizations, centres and councils
  • Culture Carriers who are First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (see definition below)
  • Indigenous-led professional arts and literary book and magazine publishers with a head office in Ontario, including Indigenous-owned for-profit publishers

Note: Co-applicants that are Indigenous are eligible. Both applicants must be Indigenous. In such situations, grant amounts awarded will be split equally between the co-applicants.


Read the Guide to OAC Project Programs for more eligibility information.

Ineligible applicants

  • non-Indigenous applicants
  • colleges, universities, and municipalities
  • for-profit organizations (except publishers)
  • hobbyists (see definition of a professional artist below)
  • artists, ad hoc groups, collectives, and organizations that are not based in Ontario

What this program funds

  • fees for professional artists – payment to yourself or other artists engaged in the project
    • Artist fees should be calculated based on time or contribution to the project. The program does not fund living and personal expenses – do not include these as the rationale for the calculation of artist fees.
  • fees and expenses for Indigenous Culture Carriers, including Elders, knowledge keepers, traditional educators and language holders (see definition)
  • fees and expenses to support plans for community care and cultural safety (for example, Aunties, Elders or social workers)
  • creation, production and presentation costs (for example, materials, venue rental, staging, technical equipment, costumes)
  • transportation, accommodations and meals, materials and supplies, and equipment rental (if applicable)
  • research and development activities
  • artist residencies and mentorships related to the development and creation of a project (requires letter of confirmation)
  • creation and production of new work
  • presentation, distribution and dissemination of art by Indigenous artists
  • exhibitions and publications
  • arts and cultural gatherings
  • festivals and audience-development projects
  • single event or series presentations
  • marketing and promotion
  • music videos and podcasts by Indigenous artists

This program also supports:

  • childcare and other dependent care fees enabling individuals to take part in the project (this does not include regular, ongoing expenses)
  • expenses related to making the project accessible to audience members and project participants (other than the applicant) who are Deaf or have a disability
    • Note: Applicants to this program who identify as Deaf or as having a disability may apply for supplementary funds for their own accessibility expenses through Accessibility Fund: Project Support.

What this program does not fund

  • projects that include faculty or student formal academic course work and research
  • fundraising activities, competitions, contests and talent shows
  • multiple projects in one application
  • ongoing salaries and operation expenses
  • major capital expenditures, including buying, leasing or renovating buildings, and purchase of major equipment, such as a table saw, computer, large format printer, studio set-up or renovations
  • for-profit business enterprises
  • cost of producing a commercial production line (that is, to have your designs manufactured by someone else)
  • creation of food products and body care products

Activity timing

The activity for which you are requesting funding:

  • cannot start before the deadline
  • cannot finish before you receive your grant results
  • must be completed no more than two years after you receive the grant results

Note: Project completion schedule should consider the time required to fulfill OAC acknowledgement obligations (see Final report requirements section below).

Final report requirements

If you receive a grant, you must complete the project and submit a final report in Nova. See Terms and Conditions – receipt of OAC project grant funds for more information on reporting obligations.

In your final report, you will need to provide:

  • a description of the project undertaken and its outcomes, including details on any approved or minor changes to what had been outlined in the application
  • a final budget
    • If the budget you submit shows a surplus of more than $250 (revenues as compared to expenses), you may be required to repay the surplus amount to OAC.
  • documentation and/or an explanation of how you followed or will follow OAC’s Recognition Requirements for Project Grant Recipients
    • This should include samples of any promotional or other materials produced for the project that show the OAC and Government of Ontario logos. Read logo guidelines
    • This could also include social media screenshots or a description of how you recognized OAC or plan to do so in future activities or materials tied to the project.

To apply

Complete and submit an application in Nova, OAC’s online grant application system. You will be able to do this approximately two months before the deadline.

Before applying, be sure to:

Your application will include:

Note: Your letter may be from a community member, Elder/Culture Carrier, project participant, or organizational representative. The letter writer should describe their experience working with you or your group and why they support your project.

Complete instructions and requirements are in the application in Nova.

For information on how assessors rate applications see the Guide to OAC Assessment and the Evaluation Rubric – Activity Projects.

For details on creating a profile or submitting an application in Nova, see the Nova User Guide.

Program-specific definitions

Indigenous: This term refers to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.


Indigenous ad hoc group or collective: An ad hoc group or collective that meets the basic eligibility requirements for an ad hoc group or collective, as defined in the Guide to OAC Project Programs, and at least 50 per cent of whose members meet OAC’s definition of Indigenous. Both individuals listed as the group’s key contacts in Nova must meet this program’s eligibility requirements for individual applicants.

Note: Ad hoc groups are formed for a one-time project, while collectives have ongoing activity.


Indigenous arts organization: An incorporated not-for-profit organization, or a for-profit book or magazine publisher, with a focused mandate to create, present, program, publish or provide services for Indigenous professional artists. (See the Guide to OAC Project Programs for eligibility requirements of incorporated organizations.) The organization must have an artistic/programming lead (such as an artistic director) who is Indigenous. This person must be listed as “Head of Artistic / Programming” in the key contacts on the organization’s profile in Nova.


Professional artist: 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.


Arts professional: An artist, arts administrator, community animator, curator, programmer, technician or arts educator who is engaged in creating, producing, promoting, performing, presenting, distributing and/or programming artistic work.


Indigenous Culture Carrier: Someone whose role within First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities is to preserve, maintain and transfer the knowledge of specific Indigenous worldviews, cultural practices and traditions through art and creative practice. Indigenous Culture Carriers include Elders, knowledge keepers, traditional educators and language holders. They have developed skills through training or practice, are recognized by their community as a significant contributor to Indigenous cultural practice, have engaged in community-based cultural activity on a regular basis.


Community: Either a specific locality (city, town, First Nation) or a group of people who have a common interest, bond or experience.


Northern fly-in community: A community in northern Ontario where access is only by air or by a seasonal winter road, and for which there is no year-round road access.