The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) acknowledges that Indigenous peoples are the original occupants of this land. The OAC supports the significant ongoing contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists in all regions of Ontario through a number of programs and initiatives across the organization. The OAC also supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is committed to fostering the strength and diversity of Indigenous art forms, practices and cultural expression.
In order for Indigenous arts professionals to thrive across Ontario, increased infrastructure and resources are necessary to support their work and careers. Artist-run centres and organizations from Indigenous communities may need additional support to develop as presenters, producers and administrators. There is also the need to foster Indigenous arts leadership and the next generation of arts professionals.
Indigenous applicants to OAC are encouraged to apply to any program in which their activities are eligible. In addition, OAC has a number of programs that were created specifically to meet the needs of Indigenous artists, ad hoc groups/collectives or organizations. Applications to OAC’s Indigenous programs are assessed by multidisciplinary assessment panels made up of Indigenous arts professionals. Read more
Curatorial Projects: Indigenous and Culturally Diverse
What We Fund
The program supports the development of the work of Ontario-based Indigenous curators and curators who are people of colour, and the exhibition infrastructure in Ontario. It aims to increase the ability of Ontario public galleries, artist-run centres and other organizations to present projects by Indigenous curators and curators who are people of colour in contexts determined by the participants.
What We Fund
The program supports the development, production and presentation of dance by Ontario’s professional dance artists.
Indigenous Artists in Communities and Schools Projects
What We Fund
The program supports projects that bring together professional Ontario-based Indigenous artists or Elders to work with individuals or groups of people from a community on collaborative activities that create a meaningful arts experience and transmit artistic skills and knowledge.
What We Fund
The program supports Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) artists to research, develop and create new work and engage with their communities, as well as opportunities for Indigenous organizations and communities to strengthen their relationships with the arts.
What We Fund
The program supports Ontario-based First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists working in the visual arts, crafts or traditional/customary Indigenous art forms to create artwork. Grants of $500 help cover the cost of buying art materials and supplies.This is a third-party recommender program. Artists apply to the Indigenous organizations designated as recommenders for the program. Recommenders assess applications and submit grant recommendations to OAC.
Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour
What We Fund
This program supports Ontario-based Indigenous arts professionals and arts professionals of colour for professional development and skill-building opportunities that advance applicants’ work and careers. It funds all contemporary and traditional art practices that are supported at OAC.
The OAC’s definition of the term Indigenous in this context includes those who self-identify as status or non-status First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. An Indigenous organization or ad hoc group/collective is one whose leadership and governance is made up of a majority of Indigenous peoples, who control and direct the artistic and financial decisions.
Watch Indigenous Protocols
- a video featuring Indigenous leaders discussing protocols and cultural appropriation.
Shapeshifters Video Series
Shapeshifters is a series of nine video profiles featuring Aboriginal artists in Ontario and speaks to the diversity and breadth of Aboriginal Arts in the province. The videos explore indigenous approaches to art, cultural revitalization and offer tips on applying for a grant. The series was co-produced by Thunderstone Pictures and the Ontario Arts Council, edited by Lawrence Jackman and Katharine Asals and with music from Edgardo Moreno.
OAC’s Equity Statement
We are inspired by and value Ontario’s artists, who help shape our thriving and diverse society and express the richness of our stories, histories and cultures. Therefore, as a public agency, funder and employer, OAC will lead and be responsive and inclusive in supporting diverse artists, artistic practices, arts communities and our own organization. See our Equity Plan
for more information.
Peer assessment is an important principle for OAC. We are committed to assembling panels of artists and arts professionals that reflect the rich diversity of Ontario, OAC priority groups, and a wide range of perspectives. All assessors receive a fee for reading the applications and for participating in the assessment meetings. The OAC covers travel, meals and accommodation for assessors who come from out-of-town, as well as accessibility and childcare needs. If you would like to be considered to serve as an OAC peer assessor, you may nominate yourself by completing the form on this page
The OAC staff and assessors adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code
. Assessors are asked to consider who is telling whose story and who has the right to develop and share cultural expressions and knowledge from any community, particularly historically underrepresented groups or individuals. Assessors may consider the impact of the artistic work in the context of historic or continuing barriers faced by the applicant and the communities engaged by the work, when accessing opportunities for producing and participating in the arts. In cases where two applications have an equal score when funding runs out, the applicant who is a member of a priority group will be awarded the grant.
The OAC strives to have Indigenous representation on all of our assessment panels, across disciplines.