[Skip to Content] download Acrobat Reader
Ontario Arts Council
Grants Advanced Search
Grants Advanced Search

Ontario Arts Council COVID-19 Actions

The global COVID-19 pandemic is compelling organizations like OAC to focus on the essentials of what they do and to engage those strengths to make a difference. OAC supports the diversity and vitality of the arts in every corner of the province, ensuring the value of the arts to Ontario’s cultural life. In this time of great disruption and uncertainty for the arts sector, we are: 


to the artists and arts organizations we support. We understand the pressures they are experiencing right now and we will not add to those challenges.


with as much flexibility as possible, adjusting our policies, processes and programs to help the arts sector navigate the challenges they are facing.


and advocating for artists and arts organizations through this difficult time. We’re closely monitoring the impacts of the situation and exploring additional ways to sustain the sector.

Taking Action 

OAC’s immediate actions have been to offer as much flexibility as possible to grant recipients and applicants, and to give artists and arts organization time and space to evaluate their situation and adjust to change without having to worry about their funding.

Operating Grants

Program deadlines and peer assessment of operating grants have been suspended for current operating grant recipients. We recognize the difficulty of preparing and assessing operating grant applications while the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve. We are releasing 2020-21 operating grant payments earlier than usual, understanding the need for cash flow to sustain operations. Operating grant funds will not need to be returned if activities are changed or cancelled. If you are applying to an operating program for the first time, your application will be assessed by an advisory panel. Contact the program officer to find out when results will be available.

Project Programs

All March, April and May deadlines for project programs were extended by at least two weeks to give artists and arts professionals whose lives and work are impacted by COVID-19 extra time to develop their applications. We are also inviting applicants to explain what contingency measures they may be thinking about should COVID-19 impact their project plans.

OAC’s new $1.6 million Arts Response Initiative will help Ontario artists and arts organizations respond to challenges posed by the pandemic. For more information, go to the Arts Response Initiative web page.

Project Grants

OAC will be flexible with grant recipients facing unanticipated changes related to COVID-19. We want to provide them with every opportunity to realize their objectives even if plans need to change. We will not ask for repayment of grants for which related expenses have been incurred, including any reasonable expenses related to changes and cancellations outside of their control.

Travel and In-Person Gatherings

Given the ongoing evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and changing public health guidelines for travel and public gatherings, OAC will be revising the Touring Projects program so that it can better serve the Ontario arts sector. As such, OAC has made the decision to suspend the October 14, 2020 deadline and to relaunch the program in early 2021.

The Market Development Travel Assistance, Market Development Projects and Chalmers Arts Fellowships programs have also been suspended for the current year. 


Additional Supports

OAC’s $1.6M Arts Response Initiative is an investment in the diversity and vitality of the arts across Ontario. The one-time initiative supports individual artists, ad hoc groups and collectives, and arts organizations to carry out their activities in an environment of change. For more information, go to the Arts Response Initiative web page.

e are also communicating with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to share information about impacts on the arts sector, and to ensure the continued vitality of the arts in Ontario.

Mapping COVID-19 Impacts on Ontario’s Arts Sector

OAC has completed a mini-survey of OAC-funded organizations across all sectors to get a sense of the high-level impact figures in Ontario. This complements the more detailed work being done by sector-specific Arts Service Organizations (ASOs), which OAC is also following. Click here the read the survey's findings. OAC will do a comprehensive analysis later in the year once we have a fuller picture of the impacts.

Staying Connected

As we connect with applicants, OAC staff are collecting stories so that we can better support the needs of the arts community in the short and longer-term. Along the way, we are hearing many accounts of hardship, and also ones that inspire. While finding bright spots in this situation is challenging, the resilience and creativity of artists has become a vital source of connection and hope for individuals and communities across Ontario practicing physical distancing and isolation.
We will continue to listen and respond to concerns as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and we will do everything we can to protect the diversity and vitality of artists and arts organizations in order to ensure that they remain at the heart of our province’s cultural life.
While OAC’s office space has been closed since March 17, 2020, OAC staff members are working from home and we continue to be available during regular business hours. We recognize how important it is that we are available to answer questions help applicants and recipients navigate changes to our policies and programs in relation to their activities.


Kirsten Gunter

Director of Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058

Shoshana Wasser

Senior Communications Coordinator (Government & Media Relations)
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058