Grant Writing


In Canada, all three levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) provide funding programs for the arts. We call these Public Funders.

Private foundations also ask for grant applications for projects. We call these Private Funders.

Alternative Services and Application Processes

There are alternative services and application processes provided by the Ontario Arts Council for Deaf persons and persons with disabilities, for persons with limited internet access , and for oral applications for Indigenous persons. Learn more about grant writing and the resources available for Deaf artists by watching our video in ASL below!

Grant Writing Checklist

  1. Review the Evaluation Criteria and Guidelines.
  2. Review the questions and sketch out your answers.
  3. Make an appointment to talk to the granting officer to review your idea and eligibility.
  4. Examine the why!
  5. Follow the instructions.
  6. Work out your budget - does it match your narrative?
  7. Have a friend in the arts read it.
  8. Have a friend outside the arts read it.
  9. Give it a final check yourself.
  10. Plan to submit with time to spare.
  11. For online applications, be ready to submit at least 1 hour before the deadline to avoid any system errors while everyone is submitting.

Things to know before you start your grant:

  • The role of the grant officer is to facilitate the adjudication process. They do not determine who receives funding, but rather support the peer review process and are there to answer any questions you have before, during and after the grant application process.
  • There are limits and/or restrictions regarding how many grants you can receive and apply for each year, depending on the organization (with the OAC and TAC, you are only able to receive one grant per year from that same organization, with the CCA there are annual limits). So be sure to check the guidelines around limits and restrictions.
  • Deadlines differ depending on the organization; ensure you check the date of the deadline, as well as the time it is due that day.
  • If applying as a collective or ad hoc, choose your name wisely. The name that you put on your application will be the name that your cheque goes out to if you are successful (and must be associated with a bank account).
  • If you are successful and are awarded a grant you will have to submit a mandatory final report to the funding body once the project is complete.

During the grant writing process:

  • It is useful to think about writing a grant as if you are writing to your peers, not as if you are writing a formal essay
  • Your word/character count matter. A good practice is to type your grant into a separate program that counts words/characters to ensure you are spreading out your words/characters appropriately
  • If you are including the name of a specific place or person that you will be working at/with, ensure that you ask them to be part of the project, otherwise specify that you are “thinking of asking (blank) to be part of this project”
  • You should not exaggerate in your application in any way, you never know who may end up reading it on the jury or peer assessment committee
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a grant officer a question when you are stuck with something - they are there to help

Support Material

With many project-based grants you will be asked to include support material. This may include:

  • short video clips
  • audio material
  • still images
  • script excerpts
  • previous posters or programs
  • letters of support

You should always have some support material to serve your application, regardless of what the grant is asking for. It is important to remember that these materials are there to support your written narrative. It is worth investing time and money into creating support materials that support your vision and relate to your application. Think about what you will be submitting as support material early on in the grant writing process. Sometimes you are unable to show exact materials that reference your idea - in these situations it is best to share materials that support your artistic ideas more generally or show your artistic capacity.

Support Material Tips:

  • Video - if it is not mandatory, ask yourself if it is necessary to include. It is recommended that your video be no longer than 3 min. Ensure your video is linked to the sections you want the jury or peer assessment to see, or identify the specific section of your video that the jury or peer assessment should look at. Video quality should be good and not grainy. Include audio description, ASL and scripting.
  • Music/Audio Samples - not always necessary. If the project is a musical, or music-based, you should most definitely have some samples of the music.
  • Script - send in your best 20 pages (or so). You are encouraged to then give context to the scene that the jury is going to read. They do not need the entire script.
  • Letters of Recommendation/Support - submit if they are written by someone who knows the project and/or who can speak to your knowledge and ability to do the project set forth in the grant.
  • Reviews - send in good reviews, not mediocre or bad ones. Pull quotes are fine, but pick strategic ones, not ones that are general/common phrases. A screenshot collage of sections from different reviews is also great and helpful.

Tips from the OAC on Preparing Effective Support Material for Theatre, Dance and Performance-Based Multi and Inter-Arts or watch the video below!


  • It is suggested that your budget be submitted for the project as you want to make it - don’t deflate or inflate expenses.
  • It is recommended to show multiple sources of revenue within your budget.
  • If necessary, add a rationale to explain things within your budget as it is helpful for the jury to read what you are thinking. This can either be in the notes column of the budget form provided or as an additional documents with explanations.
  • Include a budget line for accessibility initiatives.

After grant results:

  • The demand for grants is overwhelming, so if you don’t get the grant, it isn’t necessarily because your application wasn’t good.
  • Always ask for feedback! It is recommended to ask for feedback with 2-3 months of receiving your grant results. It is always good to get this feedback and granting organizations are always happy to offer it, whether you received the grant or not.
  • Thanking your elected politician at the level of government you were successful at (Canada Council - MP; Provincial Arts Council - MLA; Municipal Arts Council - as per your city) goes a long way; after all, they are the ones who help distribute the money!
  • If there are changes in your work from the initial application that will change the scope of the project (any significant change), always let the grant officer know.
  • If your grant was successful, you will likely be required to submit a final report to the funding body following the completion of your project. Don't forget to include this in your critical path!
  • Don't forget that there are specific procedures and protocols involved when it comes to filing your taxes.

More Grant Writing Resources

There are many useful resources out there on how to write grants. Here are a few:

Click to Download:

*If the automatic download does not work, try right-clicking the link and opening it in a new tab.

Serving on a jury or peer assessment committee

An excellent way to learn more about grant writing and to support the creative community is to sit on a jury or peer assessment committee. Each funder will have a different intake process and application form. Usually it is part of what you fill out when you create an online profile. It is also worth mentioning your interest to the grant officer you most speak to.

Learn more on how to sign up to serve on a peer assessment committee and what's involved:
Canada Council for the Arts (scroll to the bottom for peer assessment information)
Ontario Arts Council
Toronto Arts Council

Created by admin. Last Modification: Wednesday January 6, 2021 13:59:14 EST by kpalm.