Strategic Innovation Fund: Grow Grants

Call for Expression of Interest: Guidelines

The Canada Council is inviting arts organizations to submit an Expression of Interest to the Grow Grants component of the Strategic Innovation Fund.

The application process has two stages:

Stage 1     Proposal submitted through a call for Expression of Interest

Stage 2     Shortlisted candidates from the call for Expression of Interest will be invited to fully develop their proposal, formally apply through the Council’s portal, and participate in an interview with the evaluation committee

About the Fund

The Canada Council’s 5-year Strategic Innovation Fund aims to strengthen and transform the arts sector.  The Fund supports rebuilding and transformation projects and partnerships that contribute to a more resilient, sustainable, connected, accessible, and equitable arts sector.  

The Fund includes 3 main components to help seed, cultivate and grow your idea:

  • Seed provides seed funding to kickstart small-scale innovation activities that explore and develop capacity, partnerships, and promising innovation ideas.
  • Cultivate provides project grants to implement, pilot and protype innovation projects that address systemic issues and benefit the broader arts sector.
  • Grow provides multi-year support for a limited number of longer-term, collaborative initiatives that propose sustainable solutions to sectoral or cross-sectoral issues and demonstrate strong potential to be scaled up for regional, national, or international impact.

These components are designed to accompany Canadian individuals, groups, and organizations at different stages of innovation readiness, from capacity building to exploration to prototyping to full implementation.  The Fund supports both small-scale activities with short timelines and longer-term complex initiatives. 

About the Grow component

The following Expression of Interest guidelines are for the Grow component, which provides multi-year support for a limited number of longer-term, collaborative initiatives that propose sustainable solutions to issues within and beyond the arts sector and demonstrate strong potential to be scaled up for regional, national, or international impact. 

Grant type

Multi-year project grants

Deadline – 13 April 2022

Your Expression of Interest online form (stage 1) must be submitted on or before the deadline date. The Canada Council will not assess late submissions.

Notification of results – End of July 2022

Grant amount – Up to $1,000,000

Application limits

While you can be named as a partner in another project, you can only submit one Expression of Interest per deadline.

Eligibility – Who can apply?

Your application must identify an eligible lead applicant.  Grow only supports collaborative projects that are undertaken in partnership with more than one organization, collective or group.

Types of potential lead applicants to the Grow component:

  • artistic organizations
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations

The lead applicant must be a Canadian organization and eligible to apply to the Fund, as determined by their validated profile created in the portal. Project partners do not require a Canada Council profile.

Organizations presently receiving core grants are eligible to apply to this component. 

Activities – What can I apply for?

Grow provides large-scale support for existing innovation projects that have already been successfully developed, tested, prototyped and/or piloted.  Projects must address systemic issues in the arts sector and propose sustainable solutions to sectoral or cross-sectoral issues to help rebuild a more resilient, sustainable, equitable, accessible, greener, healthier, and connected arts sector. 

Projects should propose a concrete solution to a clearly identified problem. Grow supports a wide range of project development and implementation activities.  To be eligible, your project must be built on solid, existing research, development and planning and demonstrate how the Council's investment will scale up the existing project for greater impact.

Grow only supports collaborative projects that are undertaken by organizations in partnership with other organization(s), collective(s) or group(s). To be eligible, projects must stretch beyond a personal gain or benefit to your group or organization and be able to demonstrate potential impact for the broader arts sector or a broader target community.  Partnerships are not limited to the arts sector and we encourage collaborations with sectors outside the arts with shared investment for shared benefit.

Eligible activities

Any project activities required to implement, optimize, scale up and expand an existing project for greater sectoral or cross-sectoral impact at a regional, national, or international level. 

The project must respond to one or more of the following key strategic areas:

  • Strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the arts sector, including new business and revenue models
  • Advancing social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts
  • Increasing the accessibility of arts and culture for people who are Deaf or have disabilities
  • Decolonizing the arts sector
  • Creating a greener arts sector
  • Stimulating the digital transformation of the arts sector
  • Improving the health, wellbeing, and financial security of artists and arts professionals
  • Building networks and partnerships to strengthen the arts ecosystem and the role of arts in society
  • Amplifying the benefit of the arts for thriving communities

You can’t apply for activities that occur before the deadline date, those that receive funding from another Canada Council program or those on the general list of ineligible activities.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

If eligible, your Expression of Interest will be evaluated by a committee that includes both Council staff and experts in the arts, digital, business or other sectors. Expressions of interest will be evaluated on the following weighted criteria:

Impact 50% (minimum score of 35 out of 50)

  • The project aims for concrete results and significant expected benefits
  • The project’s potential for significant regional, national, or international impact
  • The project is based on close collaboration with committed partners

Relevance 30% (minimum score of 15 out of 30)

  • The project has clearly articulated sectoral challenges or opportunities
  • The objectives of the project are aligned with the key strategic areas of the Fund
  • The contributing partner(s) are well matched and pertinent

Feasibility 20% (minimum score of 10 out of 20)

  • The project expands on and scales up an existing project that has already been successfully developed, tested, prototyped and/or piloted.
  • The project demonstrates readiness to be scaled up
  • There is an existing project governance

Instructions – How to submit an application

The Grow component has a two-stage application process:

  1. Applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest using the online form by Wednesday, April 13 by 11:59 pm (Pacific time). 
  2. Based on the submitted Expressions of Interest, the Council will invite a limited number of applicants to apply to the Grow component. This will entail providing additional requested information and may include an invitation to pitch their initiative to the assessment committee.

A two-stage application process has been implemented to streamline the work of the committee and of potential applicants.  As the Council will only support a small number of projects each year through the Grow component, the first stage has been designed as a lighter “pitch” to ensure alignment of the project with the objectives of the component. 

Required information and support material – What you need to apply for stage 2

If you are invited to apply as the second part of this two-stage application process, you will need to provide the following:

  • Information about the lead applicant, including:
    • mandate and relevant experience
    • the key people leading the project
  • Information about your partners, including:
    • relevant experience
    • governance model for the project
    • letters of agreement
  • Information about your project, including:
    • potential beneficiaries
    • short, medium, and long-term outcomes with key performance indicators
    • your timeline
    • service providers, if relevant
    • executive summaries or recommendations from relevant research or reports (feasibility studies, needs analysis, survey results, etc.) that help outline the problem and your proposed solution
  • Your proposed business model and budget
    • your project budget
    • your business model for ensuing long-term sustainability
    • your confirmed and anticipated sources of private or public financial support

Contact information

If you require additional information or guidance, write to us at before submitting your application.