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Updates, FAQs and Resources

Last updated: April 17, 2020

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.

 Learn more. 

oac logo Updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

OAC has updated its FAQs to help you navigate our information. Updates will be posted when new information is available. Up-to-date information will also be located on relevant program web pages and in Nova, OAC’s online granting system. Some updates will also be shared on social media.

OAC Staff and Operations

Last updated: April 8, 2020

OAC is operating during regular business hours, but please be mindful that our staff may be dealing with a higher volume of calls while also managing other demands (such as caring for family members). We appreciate your patience if response times are slower than usual.

The best way to reach us is by email. Please visit the relevant program page or the staff directory for contact details.


Operating Grant Recipients

Last updated: April 8, 2020
  • Will returning operating grant applications be peer assessed this year?

    No. Operating grant program deadlines and assessments have been suspended. We recognize the difficulty in preparing and assessing operating grant applications while the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve. We plan to release 2021 operating grant payments as soon as possible, understanding the need for cash flow to sustain your organization’s operations.
  • I have already submitted my organization’s operating grant application. Will it be assessed?

    No. There will be no peer review panels in 2020. Your application will be reviewed by the program officer to ensure that your organization continues to meet the requirements of the program.
  • I have not yet submitted a 2020-21 operating grant application. Will I be required to?

    You will not be asked to submit a full operating application for this year if you have not yet done so. OAC may request updated information on your current and projected years in the fall. You will be given plenty of notice and guidance.
  • When will the 2020-21 operating grant payments be issued?

    We intend to advance a percentage of operating grant payments as soon as we are able. A holdback of your grant allocation will be paid later in the year, once you have provided updated information on your current and projected years. Guidelines for these updates will be provided in summer 2020.
  • How will OAC determine the amount of my organization’s 2020-21 operating grant?

    The amount of your organization’s grant will be based your 2019-20 grant level, and OAC’s 2020-21 budget context. No assessment-based grant increases or decreases will be applied.
  • Will my organization need to return funds if our plans are cancelled or changed due to COVID-19? Will we be required to reschedule activities to a later date?  

    As an operating grant recipient, you will not be expected to return funds to OAC if your plans cannot proceed as originally proposed, nor will you be required to reschedule activities. If you made financial commitments to artists, collaborators, venues or other contractual partners, use the grant as intended to cover these obligations. If you are now faced with cancellation fees or penalties, you can also use the grant to pay for these unexpected costs.  
  • My organization has applied to the operating program this year for the first time. Will my application be assessed? 

    If you are applying to an operating program for the first time, OAC will be in touch with more information on your application.


Project Programs

Last updated: April 8, 2020
  • Is OAC still accepting grant applications? 

    Yes, we are still accepting grant applications with the exception of Market Development Travel Assistance, which has been suspended while we consider new approaches to supporting market development activities. Applications that involve travel and in-person gatherings occurring before June 30, 2020, will also not be accepted. OAC may extend the June 30 date limit depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops.

    OAC staff are available to provide support as you work on your application. We are proceeding with the peer assessment of project program applications (via virtual panel meetings), the notification of results and the payment of grants. Since moving our granting processes online three years ago with Nova, we are in a good position to proceed with our grant application processes.
  • Have any project program deadlines been extended?

    Yes, we have extended all spring deadlines for project programs by two weeks. This is to allow applicants more time to make plans and submit their applications. We expect to be able to adhere to the original notification timelines, although there may be slight delays.

    We may extend other deadlines, depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops. Any further extensions will be posted here as well as on the relevant program web pages and in Nova.


Project Grant Recipients

Last updated: April 8, 2020
  • I am due to submit a final report for my funded project but am delayed in completing it due to the COVID-19. What should I do?

    We understand that COVID-19 is having an impact on people’s ability to complete projects or work on reporting.

    If you need more time to complete your project or report, email your officer to request an extension on your final report due date. You may be asked to provide additional information about updated plans and timelines. If the extension is approved, a new final report due date will be updated in your Nova profile.
  • I received a project grant, but my OAC-funded activity has been cancelled, postponed or changed due to COVID-19. What should I do? 

    We understand that grant recipients may need to pause, change or cancel their activities as well as adjust targets and dates. Give yourself some time to think about your options and explore alternate plans. When you are ready to move ahead, you have a number of options:
    • Pause or postpone

      If you need more time to complete your project or to prepare the final report, contact your officer and ask for an extension to your final report due date.
    • Modify

      If your project needs to change, contact your officer to request a modification to your project (e.g. dates, location, venue, format), taking into account the latest government COVID-19 advisories and restrictions.
    • Cancel

      If your project is cancelled, use your grant as intended for non-refundable expenses already incurred, and to pay any financial commitments to artists, collaborators, venues or other contractual partners. You can also allocate some of your grant to lost income if the projected income was listed in your budget. If you are faced with cancellation fees or penalties, use the grant to pay these unexpected costs as well. If you can provide proof that all of your grant was spent on costs that are non-refundable, state this along with any variances from your original budget in your final report.

    At this stage, contact your officer only if you have updated plans requiring approval, or you are unable to submit a final report that is overdue and preventing you from submitting a new application to OAC. If you are unsure about how to move forward, your officer will work with you to advise on what is possible.
  • I received a project grant for an event/tour that was cancelled, and the presenter is unable to pay the agreed upon artist fee. Can I use my grant to pay myself and my collaborators?

    Yes, the payment of artist fees is a fundamental principle of OAC. We expect and hope that presenters will pay artists for cancelled engagements. If for whatever reason, the presenter is unable to pay the fee, you may pay these fees as well as eligible costs already incurred, up to the total amount of the grant.
  • My project was cancelled, and I had to spend all my grant funds to cover the costs that had already been incurred. Can I apply again if my project is remounted?

    If your project is rescheduled due to COVID-19, you would be eligible to reapply to the program for new expenses related to the remounted project. You may also apply for a new project grant for a different phase or component of a project.  

Project Grant Applicants

Last Updated: April 8, 2020
  • I am planning to submit a project program application, but I’m unable to submit in Nova due to the pandemic. Are there alternate application processes available to me?

    If you do not have an adequate computer or internet source and are unable to access public internet sources (such as libraries) or borrowed technology in the context of COVID-19 closures and restrictions, please contact the program administrator for the program to which you would like to apply. There may be options to fully or partially submit your application outside of Nova.
  • I am planning to submit a project program application, but I can’t get some mandatory application items because of business and service closures. What should I do?

    We understand that certain mandatory application items (e.g. letters of confirmation from schools) may be difficult or impossible to obtain at this time. We will work with you to ensure that these limitations are not barriers to applying. Please contact your officer to discuss the particulars of your situation.
  • I am planning to submit a project program application. It is possible that my plans may be affected by COVID-19, but I can’t know for sure. What should I do?  

    OAC has added a COVID-19 section to all of our project program application forms so that you can tell us about how you could modify your plans if your project is impacted by COVID-19.  

    We realize that this might be difficult to do because no one knows yet when the pandemic will end or when restrictions will lift, but a brief description of any contingency plans that you could adopt if your project can not be carried out as planned will help to inform assessors of what is possible. If, for example, you are planning to hold an in-person workshop in September, you may indicate that it would be possible for you to do it online if required.  

    Depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops, grant recipients may be asked to provide confirmation that plans are proceeding before grant payments are issued.


Travel and In-Person Gatherings

Last updated: April 8, 2020
  • Why is OAC not funding travel or in-person gatherings from now until June 30, 2020?  

    OAC is unable to award new grants for proposed activities that contravene current government-mandated restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings. While no one knows how long restrictions will continue to be in place, OAC will monitor the latest developments and may further extend its own funding restrictions in response.  

    This policy extends to all project programs that support travel-related activities and in-person gatherings, including touring, performance events, rehearsals, workshops, conferences, etc. Applicants who have proposed such activities scheduled to take place before June 30, 2020, will be invited to provide revised project plans. Where this is not possible, applications will become ineligible and will be withdrawn.  

    The June 30 date limit may be extended depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops. Please check this space regularly for any updated information.
  • I have already received a grant for travel and/or an event/in-person gathering before June 30, 2020, what should I do?  

    OAC requires you to comply with the latest requirements outlined by government authorities regarding travel and in-person gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. See guidelines outlined in the Project and Operating program sections of this FAQ for guidance on cancellations or modifications to your OAC funded activities.
  • I have already submitted an application that includes travel and/or in-person gatherings before June 30, 2020. What should I do?  

    If it is possible, postpone your travel or in-person gathering(s) to July or later, or modify it to an activity that doesn’t require travel or in-person contact (such as an online exchange), or remove this aspect of your project altogether. You have two options: you can indicate this in the extra section of your project grant application where you are asked to describe any COVID-19 contingency measures, or you can contact your officer.  

    As long as you have provided a written explanation before assessment of how your project can continue without travel or in-person gathering(s) before June 30, 2020, your project will be assessed.  

    If it is not possible to postpone, modify or remove these activities, you should withdraw your application as soon as possible. If your application is not withdrawn prior to assessment, it will be ruled ineligible.
  • I have submitted an application to participate in an event (e.g. festival, conference, contact event) that may be cancelled because of COVID-19. What should I do?  

    If the event is cancelled before your application is assessed, you should withdraw the application as soon as possible.   

    If the event is cancelled after you receive the grant and before you have incurred expenses, contact your program administrator to return the grant to OAC.

oac logo COVID-19 Updates


COVID-19 Update for May 6, 2020

In April 2020, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) undertook a survey to gather some high-level indicators of the early impact of COVID-19 on OAC-funded organizations. 

COVID-19 Update for April 14, 2020

OAC has temporarily suspended the intake of applications to the Market Development Travel Assistance program because of COVID-19 related travel advisories. The program will be closed until further notice while we monitor the situation and consider new approaches to supporting market development activity in response to the impacts of COVID-19. Continue to visit OAC’s website for the latest updates on deadline dates and funding opportunities.


OAC has compiled a list of information to help you locate resources that may be useful to you. Information will be updated as frequently as possible. To see when it was last updated, please refer to the date below the heading of each section.


Kirsten Gunter

Director of Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7403

Shoshana Wasser

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