Funding Principles

Public funding of the arts contributes to the society in which we live. The Canada Council for the Arts is responsible for identifying areas where it can act strategically to shape an inclusive and healthy arts sector.

In all its activities, the Canada Council must meet the highest ethical standards. Its staff and management are required to adhere to the internal Code of Ethics, as well as the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. This ensures the Canada Council’s objectivity and safeguards the public’s trust.

Our funding principles, decision making process and Strategic Plan are the cornerstones of our operations.

Arm’s-length relationship

The Canada Council operates at arm’s length from government. It is governed by its founding legislation, the Canada Council for the Arts Act, and in accordance with the Financial Administration Act (s. 85 (1.1)). By maintaining distance from government, the Canada Council is able to develop policies and programs, and make decisions free from political interference or influence.

Stewardship of public funds

As a Crown corporation that dispenses public funds, the Canada Council must maintain the public’s trust by accounting fully and openly for its operations and decisions. The Canada Council is committed to sound stewardship of public funds. It is also committed to using sound financial systems, effective risk management, efficient and accountable granting processes, and timely and transparent reporting to ensure the prudent use of public resources.

Peer assessment

The Canada Council bases most of its funding decisions on peer assessment for the following reasons:

  • Peer assessment is the best way to identify outstanding ability and artistic merit.
  • Freedom of thought and expression benefits from decision making that embraces diverse professional expertise and knowledge.
  • A wide range of peer assessors gives the best guarantee of accountability, fairness and transparency.

Peer assessment must reflect Canada’s population by representing Indigenous and culturally diverse communities, the Deaf and disability communities, all regions, and a balance of gender, age and official languages.

Read more about peer assessment and funding decision.

Respectful Workplaces

The Canada Council’s policies promote respectful workplaces not only for its own employees, but also for the recipients of its grants. Organizations that accept a grant must demonstrate that they will provide a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. When applicable, funded organizations must show that they have policies in place that protect and promote healthy workplaces.

The Canada Council’s Application Assessment Process and the Awarding of Grants describes the mechanisms to deal fairly with concerns relating to a grant recipient’s capacity to provide safe working conditions and to foster a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.

Cultural self-determination of Indigenous peoples

The Canada Council is committed to reaffirming its relationship with Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Through its programs and other activities, the Canada Council will support a Canadian arts landscape deeply ingrained with the perspectives, voices, stories, struggles and aesthetics of Indigenous peoples. The organization respects the histories, traditions, languages and contemporary practices of these cultural groups and acknowledges the cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples by respecting their artistic expression, cultural protocols, rights and cultural self-determination.

Read more about the Canada Council’s Supporting Indigenous art in the spirit of cultural self-determination

Equity and diversity

The Canada Council recognizes the individual worth and dignity of all people. All individuals have the right to be treated according to their personal merits, and to be given equal opportunity with all others. Therefore, the Canada Council is against any discrimination, stereotypes or generalizations based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, socio-economic status, disability or criminal conviction for which a pardon has been granted. The Canada Council works to ensure that its activities are not compromised by these forms of discrimination.

Read more about the Council’s approach to equity and diversity in its Equity Policy.

Official languages

The Canada Council believes that Canada’s two official languages make a distinct contribution to the diversity of the arts in Canada. It also believes in the important role the arts play in promoting linguistic duality and the vitality of official language minority communities. The Canada Council’s granting activities follow the requirements of the Official Languages Act by ensuring that all services are available in both official languages. The Canada Council also has an obligation under the act to enhance the vitality of official-language minority communities and support their development.

Read more about the Canada Council’s Official Languages Policy.

Comparative assessment

The Canada Council awards funding to applications that show the highest artistic excellence and meet all relevant assessment criteria, within a comparative context. The organization recognizes the importance of comparing similar applications as it arrives at its decisions. For this reason, the Canada Council groups comparable applications together during the assessment process, and assessors are asked to rank the applications in order of merit using the program assessment criteria as guide.

Read more about How we make Funding Decisions.

Outcome-based approach

In fulfilling its mandate, the Canada Council works to achieve results for the arts, for Canadians and for society. Each of the Canada Council’s granting instruments has clearly articulated objectives and expected outcomes. These are measured and monitored over time to help the organization meet its objectives and communicate the impact of its activities – and those of the arts sector – to Canadians.

Read more about Council’s Evaluation and Performance Measurement.