1. Funding
  2. Strategic Funds and Initiatives
  3. Digital Strategy Fund
  4. Public Access to the Arts and Citizen Engagement

Public Access to the Arts and Citizen Engagement

Digital Strategy Fund

*New* Public Access to the Arts and Citizen Engagement component - Requests up to $50,000 can apply anytime.

In response to COVID-19’s impact on the arts milieu, from April to July 31, 2020, the Digital Strategy Fund is inviting eligible applicants to submit proposals for short term activities that will:

  • implement digital solutions as a strategic response to the COVID-19 crisis
  • demonstrate concrete and immediate benefits to the arts community
  • show elements of openness and potential for growth as a long-term strategy

Applicants can apply anytime until July 31, 2020 for requests up to $50,000 for single-phase initiatives. Applications will be evaluated internally through a streamlined assessment process designed for quick turnaround.

During this period, we will take a more flexible approach to certain eligible activities and expenses.

Please see guidelines for details.

The Public Access to the Arts and Citizen Engagement component funds Canadian artists, groups and arts organizations to improve the public’s access, engagement and participation in the arts through digital means. It supports innovative digital initiatives that:

  • enhance the artistic experience of diverse publics;
  • encourage the participation and engagement of citizens with the arts;
  • increase discoverability and access to the works of Canadian artists, both at home and abroad.

Applicants may request a grant for a single- or multi-phase initiative.

Types of initiative
Single-phase initiative
Initiatives for which the objectives, timelines and expected results are clearly identified.
Multi-phase initiative
Initiatives for which the objectives, timelines and expected results are clearly identified, and that require an iterative approach.

You may be eligible for Application Assistance to pay someone to help you with the application process if you are experiencing difficulty and self-identify as:

  • an artist who is Deaf, hard of hearing, has a disability or is living with a mental illness
  • a First Nations, Inuit or Métis artist facing language, geographic and/or cultural barriers.

Activities - what you can apply for

This component supports both small-scale activities with short timelines and longer-term complex initiatives. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, initiatives that:

  • Develop and explore innovative new models, prototypes and experiments that will radically improve or transform citizen access to, experience of, and engagement with, the arts. Examples: testing new ideas as a minimal viable product, piloting projects with citizens, iterative freeware development, etc.
  • Implement open linked models and innovative digital frameworks. Examples: innovative use of metadata to further engage citizens, open platform development etc.
  • Reinforce, optimize, or scale up existing digital initiatives through preparatory activities or development to ensure their long term viability.

Ineligible Activities

You cannot submit applications for the following activities, including but not limited to:

  • activities that have already received Canada Council support;
  • hiring permanent staff;
  • recurring or ongoing activities, such as social media management or day-to-day operations;
  • initiatives where the final goal is to digitize documents, collections or archives;
  • updating current computer or technological equipment and hardware infrastructure;
  • creating or updating personal, corporate or institutional websites;
  • purchasing or renting off-the-shelf technological tools or solutions (e.g. ticketing systems, customer relationship management software);
  • initiatives to research, create, produce or program artistic work or creations;
  • activities conducted for the development of artistic skills;
  • activities conducted for the benefit of a single organization, an artist, group or collective.

Applicants - who can apply

The Fund supports collaborative initiatives that stretch beyond your own organization or group and demonstrate benefits to the broader arts sector or artistic community. Initiatives must therefore be proposed by, or for, more than one organization, collective or group of artists.

The lead applicant holds the reporting and fiduciary responsibility to Council. Partners are involved in the initiative’s leadership and direction, as well as participate in its governance. Providers are third parties contracted by the lead applicant or partner to deliver specific aspects of the initiative's work plan.

The lead applicant must be eligible to apply to the Fund, as determined by their validated profile created in the portal. However, initiative partners or service providers do not need a validated profile in order to participate in the initiative. 

All partners and service providers should be independent of each other and not be affiliated with other team members. 

Types of potential lead applicants to this component:

  • professional artists;
  • arts professionals (excluding consultants and third-party service providers);
  • artistic groups;
  • Canadian arts organizations.


Eligible Expenses

Expenses – what is eligible

  • For requests up to $50,000: 85% of eligible costs
  • For requests of $50,001 to $500,000: 85% of eligible costs

Eligible Expenses

All expenses directly related to carrying outthe proposed initiative are eligible, including but not limited to:

  • honoraria and fees paid to artists, experts, trainers, facilitators, project managers, developers and consultants directly involved in carrying out the initiative;
  • travel, accommodation and per diem costs;
  • licensing fees;
  • equipment rental costs;
  • data acquisition costs;
  • public accessibility costs, e.g. sign language interpretation, captioning, audio description, etc.;
  • costs of sharing results and transferring acquired knowledge to the community;
  • other costs directly related to carrying out the initiative (must be justified).

The following expenses are also eligible, but subject to certain limits:

  • administrative costs up to 15% of the total grant requested;
  • equipment purchase costs up to 15% of the total grant requested;
  • content creation and digital media production costs up to 15% of the total grant requested.

Ineligible Expenses

Expenses that are not directly related to carrying out the proposed initiative are not eligible, including (but not limited to):

  • ongoing operating expenses;
  • deficit reduction costs;
  • expenses for developing and maintaining personal, corporate or institutional websites;
  • expenses for off-the-shelf digital solutions, such as ticketing systems, customer relationship management software, etc.;
  • expenses incurred prior to your application submission date (for requests up $50,000);
  • expenses incurred prior to the application deadline date (for requests of $50,001 to $500,000);
  • expenses related to renovating or constructing a building;

expenses for which funding has already been granted by the Canada Council or another funder.

Your application will be assessed based on the weighted criteria below by a committee of experts in the arts, digital, business or other sectors as well as individuals who have undertaken digital transformation initiatives. Please note that Public Access to the Arts and Citizen Engagement applications requesting up to $50,000 will be assessed by either an internal or an external committee.

Impact 50%

  • The initiative aims for concrete results and significant expected benefits;
  • The initiative benefits more than one artist or organization and, ideally, an entire community or arts sector;
  • The initiative is based on consultation or close collaboration among many players and partners from different milieux and sectors, and draws on appropriate expertise;
  • The initiative is developed based on openness and sustainability;
  • Knowledge and results are shared with the community in relevant and appropriate ways.

Additional criterion when optimizing existing initiatives

  • The additional funding will be used to scale up the initiative.

Relevance 30%

  • The initiative radically improves – or even establishes a new approach that potentially transforms – public access to, experience of and engagement with the arts or literature;
  • The proposed activities and the technological directions and choices are relevant, suitable and consistent with the initiative’s objectives;
  • The contributing partners are well matched and pertinent.

Additional criterion when optimizing existing initiatives

  • The existing initiative meets user needs, its results and impact are clearly demonstrated, and its current partners, are committed and engaged.

Feasibility 20%

  • The lead applicant, the applicant’s partners and the implementation team members have the experience and expertise needed to successfully carry out the initiative;
  • The budget and work plan are realistic and the proposed resources and deliverables are clear, optimal and adequate;
  • The governance set up to carry out the initiative is effective, with aligned and complementary partners and collaborators.

Apply on the portal

Create an account and submit one or more profile(s) for validation at least 30 days before you want to apply

Deadline and Grant Amount

Single-phase initiative

Any time before the start date of your initiative for requests up to $50,000

Deadline to be announced for
requests of $50,001 to $250,000

Multi-phase initiative

Deadline to be announced for
requests of $250,001 to $500,000

Consult the Deadlines and Notification of Results page


Questions? Contact an officer