generic image

New Investments
The future of Canada’s arts sector

November 14, 2016

Last spring, our history took a long-awaited turn with the announcement of the doubling of the Canada Council’s budget. We were granted the means necessary to fulfill the ambitions of a transformation we had launched in 2015. It felt to all of us like a moment of renaissance had arrived. Today, I’d like to share with you how we intend to invest these funds, in service of a vision that sees the arts firmly anchored at the heart of our shared future as a country. 

Directly supported

By 2021, we will have provided an additional $487 million in grants, payments and prizes to Canada’s artists and arts organizations; bringing our direct annual investments in the arts from $150 million (2015) to $310 million (2021).

Indeed, our decision to drastically simplify our programs and lighten our administrative processes means that we will be able to inject a total of 88% of the federal government’s $550 million over five years directly into the arts sector.

A new balance of funding

In 2015, 64% of the Canada Council’s grants went to core, operational funding for arts organizations. By 2021, resources to core and project funding will be evenly distributed (50/50). To achieve this balance, we will gradually increase the total of core grants by 55% and those allocated to project grants by 224%. Organizations receiving core funding will, through our new funding model, be able to apply for project funding, most notably for touring, international co-productions or digital innovation.

This rebalancing of our investments will also make it easier for the Canada Council to respond to the ever-evolving realities of artistic creation and the many new ways of creating and organizing. It aims to create a larger space for emerging artists and artists from culturally diverse communities, without penalizing established artists or artistic organizations, so they can continue to thrive and share their work with Canadians, and audiences around the world.

By 2021, at least 25% of the new funds will go to artists, collectives or organizations who are new recipients or receive core funding for the first time, particularly organizations targeted by Canada Council’s equity measures.

Simon Brault
Simon Brault Photo: Scott Munn

Flourishing at home, and abroad

Canadian artistic creation is diverse, critical, and innovative; and it is especially important, at this juncture in our history, to tell that story to the rest of the world. To that end, we will not only increase the portfolio for arts across Canada by 83%, but also double our investments in international over the next four years. These progressive increases will help bring Canadian artistic creation, artists and arts organizations to established and emerging markets worldwide. They will also provide artists and the public here at home greater access to excellent art from Canada and abroad.

We would be remiss to support homegrown art, without acknowledging the unique contributions of the Indigenous peoples of this land.  Our commitment here is part of a broader, systemic change required to address what has been called “the issue of our times.” As we outline in Shaping a New Future, our 2016-21 Strategic Plan, greater support to Indigenous creation is vital. To this end, we will triple our investment to support the knowledge, creation and sharing of First Nations, Inuit and Métis arts and cultures.


It is also undeniable that the world we live in – and our future - is a digital one. For artistic creation and organizations to remain relevant, they must be able to face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the digital age. We see part of our mandate as supporting them in that process.

By 2021, the Canada Council will invest $88.5 million in projects that increase the quality, range and sharing of art through digital. We plan on doing this through a new digital fund which we look forward to launching at the Arts in a Digital World summit we will host in March 2017. We want to support projects that foster digital knowledge and competencies in the sector, digital approaches to increasing access and public engagement, and digitaltransformation for organizations. By 2021, the Canada Council’s specific investments in digital will represent slightly more than 10% of its annual grant budget. 

Ours and yours

These investments are guided by our 2016-21 Strategic Plan, which the arts community helped to shape. We remain committed, now more than ever, to transparency and will continue to share with you our progress towards meeting these objectives. However, it is our hope that you won’t have to wait; that their impact will be obvious to you - in your homes, in your neighborhoods, in your communities.

While these numbers, figures and amounts may demonstrate the scale and weight of our intentions, the impact they will have is ultimately ours and yours to determine together. The future of the arts is one we shape together.  We hope you’ll join us on January 17th, 2017 at our Annual Public Meeting to talk about our shared future.  

Portrait - Simon Brault 2014
Simon Brault, O.C, O.Q.

Director and CEO

Simon Brault is the Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Author of No Culture, No Future, a collection of essays on the rise of arts and culture on public agendas, he has participated actively in initiatives such as the Agenda 21C de la culture au Québec. An initiator of Journées de la culture, he was also a founding member and chair of Culture Montréal from 2002 to 2014. In 2015, he received the Quebec CPA Order’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award for bringing together “two worlds that were once disparate – the arts and business – an alliance that significantly benefits society at large.” Follow Simon Brault on Twitter: @simon_brault

Publisher : Canada Council for the Arts

Tagged As Announcements