Canada House
August 4, 2020

Why the results of the Digital Originals initiative point to a bright future for the arts

Last updated: November 26, 2020
Published: August 4, 2020

Read the latest press release.

We launched the Digital Originals initiative this spring at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

You might remember that this initiative offered $5,000 micro innovation grants for artists, groups, and organizations to adapt existing work or create new work to share with the public. Our partner CBC/Radio-Canada will feature select projects in a digital showcase. We also partnered with the RBC Foundation to ensure $150,000 of Digital Originals funding went to new and early career artists. In partnering, we aligned shared goals and complemented resources.

We hoped the initiative would be timely and gain widespread interest from applicants.

Now the results from the Digital Originals initiative are in—and they point to a bright future.

Three big discoveries from the Digital Originals results to inspire optimism

1. A remarkable response

We received over 4,200 applications for the Digital Originals Initiative. This highlights a strong interest and flexibility in the arts sector to create and share work digitally—a promising shift given the limitations on in-person gatherings during the pandemic.

With this strong interest, we delivered over a thousand Digital Originals microgrants for a total investment of $5.2M to projects in every province and territory and in all fields of practice.

This means Canadian audiences will have the chance to stay connected with the arts in their community during the pandemic and discover new creators from across Canada.

2. Many more first-time recipients

We delivered 410 Digital Originals grants totalling $2.1M to first-time recipients. That means over 40% of recipients received their first grant from the Council through this initiative.

In turn, Digital Originals is contributing to the renewal of the arts sector by helping artists, organizations, and groups get their first grant from the Council to create work and reach audiences.   

3. A reflection of Canada’s diversity

In keeping with our ongoing commitment to equity, 44% of Digital Originals recipients are Indigenous and/or from one or more of the Council’s equity priority groups:

  • 267 culturally diverse recipients received grants totalling $1.3M
  • 104 Deaf and disability recipients received grants totalling $520,000
  • 62 Indigenous recipients received grants totalling $310,000
  • 89 Anglophone official language minority community recipients received grants totalling $445,000
  • 49 Francophone official language minority community recipients received grants totalling $245,000

These results signal another step towards a more inclusive arts sector that better reflects Canada’s diverse populations.

The results from the Digital Originals initiative are promising—but not entirely coincidental: they align with several commitments made in our 2016-21 strategic plan, including for equity, digital sharing in the arts, and supporting the next generation of creators.

For more on where you can experience Digital Original projects on CBC/Radio-Canada, read our latest press release.