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Shoshana Wasser

Senior Communications Coordinator (Government & Media Relations)
416-969-7434
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434

COVID-19 FAQs and Guidelines for Grant Applicants and Recipients

March 16, 2020


Last updated: March 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is having and will continue to have significant impacts on the provincial arts sector. At this time, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is committed to continuing with the intake of applications and the payment of awarded grants, as well as supporting applicants and grant recipients through this time of heightened risk and uncertainty.
 
OAC has developed the FAQ below to provide information about specific questions you may have and situations you may be in. For the most up-to-date information on any significant service disruptions or delays in our activities, please go to OAC’s website or social media channels (@OntarioArts on Facebook and @ONArtsCouncil on Twitter).
 
If your question isn’t covered in this FAQ or on social media, please contact your program staff member. We encourage you to email questions, instead of phoning, as most staff are now working remotely.


General Guidelines

OAC is adhering to the recommendations issued by reliable health organizations, including  Public Health Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada or the World Health Organization. We encourage you to monitor these websites for the most up-to-date news and advice.
 
Also, many provincial and national arts service organizations are putting together guides and resources specific to their sectors. We will continue adding to this list as they become available.  
Other arts councils have also compiled lists of resources:  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 
1. I have received a project grant from OAC. What happens if my OAC-funded travel, event or activity must be postponed, changed or cancelled due to COVID-19? Will I be required to repay the grant?
 
We recognize that with the extraordinary and unforeseen nature of COVID-19, some activities or events will have to be canceled or will no longer be able to take place. Please email the Program Officer for the granting program through which you received the grant to inform OAC about a project’s cancelation, or to propose changes to the timing, location or format of OAC-funded activities. Program Officers may approve extensions to your project timeline and/or modifications to your project plans.

A grant repayment would not be required for any expenses already incurred before activities were canceled, or for additional eligible expenses incurred as a result of the unexpected cancelation (artist fee commitments, cancelation fees, etc.).
 
2. My organization receives operating funding from OAC. Will we be required to return funds to OAC if my plans are canceled due to COVID-19? Or, will we be required to schedule replacement programming at a later date?

In recognition of extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances around the COVID-19 outbreak, operating grant recipients will not be expected to return funds to OAC if their plans cannot proceed.

In deciding whether to proceed with planned activities, OAC encourages all grant recipients to consider public safety first and to adapt based on the most up-to-date information from public health authorities.
 
If major changes to your programming are required, please be in touch with your Program Officer to keep them apprised of your course of action.
 
3. Should I cancel my OAC-funded public event?

This is a rapidly changing situation. For guidance, we encourage you to consult Health Canada’s information to help with assessing the risk when determining whether to cancel or postpone a mass gathering during the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
4. Should I cancel my OAC-funded tour or travel?

Any risks associated with undertaking your OAC-funded project remain your responsibility and therefore, the decision on whether to travel is yours. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we encourage you to seek the latest recommendations related to COVID-19 in the Government of Canada’s health notices and travel advice.

If you are considering postponing your travel or traveling to a different location, please email the Program Officer for the granting program through which you received the grant to propose changes to your OAC-funded project. Program Officers may approve extensions to your project timeline and/or modifications to your project plans.
 
5. Will OAC provide emergency financial relief to artists or arts organizations who have suffered financial losses as a result of COVID-19?

No additional funds are available to allocate to COVID-19-related relief. However, OAC staff will work with grant recipients to support them if proposed plans must be delayed or modified and will approve the use of awarded OAC grant funds to cover reasonable unanticipated costs that may have arisen from canceled activities.
 
6. I have recently submitted an application involving touring or travel to areas currently impacted by COVID-19 or involving touring or travel that are uncertain or may be compromised by evolving COVID-19 circumstances. How will my application be assessed? Can I submit revised information related to my plans?

Among other criteria, most OAC project applications are assessed based on the viability of proposed plans. The likelihood that these plans could take place as outlined would be considered by peer assessors.

If the timing or location(s) of your touring or travel plans have changed significantly in a manner that would impact assessment, please email the Program Officer for the program to which you applied. Though you will not be able to revise a submitted application, if the peer assessment panel has not yet occurred, you may be able to provide some updated information for consideration.
 
If your tour or travel plans have changed very significantly, or have been postponed or cancelled, you may also consider withdrawing your application and reapplying at a future deadline. For this, please email the Program Administrator for the program to which you applied. 
 
7. I am planning to submit an application involving touring, travel and/or large public presentations. Considering the uncertainty around the future impacts and outcomes of COVID-19, how should I outline my plans?

Among other criteria, most OAC project applications are assessed based on the viability of proposed plans. The likelihood that these plans could take place as outlined would be considered by peer assessors.
 
We encourage you to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 developments from reliable public health authorities and to carefully consider safety and risks when planning the format, location(s) and timing of your proposed project. If your plans include travel to high-risk areas or large public gatherings in the near future, you may consider providing a strong rationale and/or contingency plans for the assessors to consider.
 
8. I am planning to submit an application at an upcoming deadline or I recently submitted an application to OAC. Will staff be available to answer questions while I prepare my application? Will I get results on time?


This situation is changing rapidly. At this time, OAC staff are available to provide support and OAC is planning to proceed as scheduled with deadlines, the assessment of applications, the notification of results and the payment of grants. We are in a good situation since moving our granting processes online three years ago with Nova.
 

That said, keep in mind that if there are more OAC staff working from home, it may slow our response time for questions. The safety of our staff and the artists we serve is a primary concern. In the future, illness, work from home, or office closures could limit the availability of services and our ability to process applications according to standard timelines.
 

Please consult OAC’s website for up-to-date information on service disruptions or timeline extensions.  If you would like to contact your program staff member, please consult the OAC staff directory.