Questions and Answers
Thank you for sending us your questions!
At our Annual Public Meeting on January 15, 2019, our Director and CEO, Simon Brault, answered questions from the public. Due to a lack of time, we were unable to answer each question live at the event and we are providing written responses here. Questions responded to live at the event can be seen in our 2019 Annual Public Meeting video, available on our YouTube channel.
Please note that the questions we received have been edited below for length, and to avoid reference to a specific applicant file.
For questions related to your application, please contact a program officer or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have feedback or suggestions for the Canada Council, please write to email@example.com.
What is the Council’s current investment in Quebec English-language literature projects compared to previous years?
Response: Comparing 2015-16 against 2017-18, the number of grants awarded to English Literature projects in Quebec has increased by 9.9%, from $1.109 million in 2015-16 to $1.218 million in 2017-18.
Comparing 2017-18 against the 2015-16 baseline year, there is an increase of 13.4% (from $24.6 million to $27.9 million) in the grants awarded to literature (comparing the previous Writing and Publishing section against the current Literature Field of Practice).
The Canada Council uses 2015-16 as our baseline year as that was the last year before the start of the progressive doubling of the Canada Council’s budget. In 2016-17, the focus was on New Chapter, a one-time initiative through which the Council awarded $35 million.
That being said, it is important to stress that our funding decisions are based on the recommendations of peers, to the highest standards of artistic excellence, rather than on regional, provincial, or disciplinary envelopes.
Why has the Canada Council recently made unprecedented cuts in funding to well-established reading series and small literary presses in Ontario and other provinces west of Quebec?
Response: In our latest English Publishers core competition (July 2017), only 7% of total applicants received small cuts (and most of them received cuts of only 5%). At the same time, many publishers, including those in Ontario and other provinces west of Quebec, have received substantial increases to their funding. It is important to note that the Canada Council distributes funds following recommendations from peer assessors from the literary community, and so both cuts and increases have been informed by this community.
We would like to highlight that competitions for reading series are project grants—as they were in the previous funding model. As such, a successful competition in one given year does not guarantee success in the following year. Unsuccessful applications in a competition cannot be interpreted as a “cut,” since project funding is not guaranteed over multiple years. It is normal that project grant applications have different results from year to year. We would also like to emphasize that reading series are not in a dedicated program and are competing with other literary events. In the current funding model, the average grant to a reading series has almost tripled.
You claim to distribute funds fairly but on the basis of many factors that are almost impossible to judge. How can we verify that you are fair to applicants?
Response: The Canada Council is committed to ensuring that all artists have equal opportunities to benefit from public funding for the arts. With this commitment, the Council makes decisions about priority-designated groups based on several factors including systemic barriers and discrimination. As in the past, some groups have received less funding from the Council in proportion to their share of the overall population. For example, the Council's funding to culturally diverse artists and arts organizations represented 6.5% of its total funding in 2015-16, while visible minorities represented 13% of the arts workforce and 18% of the labour force. As a result of the Council's strategic and increased investments, the total amount of grants has since increased (from 6.5% in 2015-16 to 9.4% in 2017-18).
Equity and the advancement of diversity is a priority across our organization. Rather than concentrating the Council’s interventions in a small set of programs run by one office, we set up a series of strategic mechanisms and measures that have an impact across all programs. Some of these mechanisms are as follows: ensuring that the composition of peer assessment committees reflects the diversity of Canada’s population; allowing artists, groups and organizations applying through our online portal to self-identify as an equity-seeking group; and including criteria to ensure that the leadership, staff, programming and outreach of organizations applying for core grants reflect the diversity of their community.
The Canada Council makes data related to its investments and its ongoing focus on equity and inclusion public. You can discover more in the Council’s corporate Annual Reports, in statistics published on its website (Corporate scorecard 2017-2018), and through the Council’s impact stories.
Have you considered outreach to Manitoban Artists north of the 53rd parallel?
Response: The Canada Council has an outreach strategy in place that includes a visit to Manitoba, as well as to other communities across the North of Canada in 2019.
For those who haven’t attended one of our information sessions before, you can expect an overview of all the Council’s funding opportunities, along with a walkthrough of our granting portal. Staff will also be available afterwards for one-on-one conversations and follow-up questions.
Why are grants available only to those with BAs in the arts?
Response: The Canada Council doesn’t require that training in the artistic field be obtained in academic institutions. We consider that a professional artist is one who:
- has specialized training in the artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
- is recognized as a professional by their peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
- is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if financially possible;
- and has a history of public presentation or publication.
Each professional artist profile has a list of minimal eligibility criteria. Potential applicants can check their eligibility here: https://apply.canadacouncil.ca/AreYouEligible.aspx.
Is funding available for podcasts from the Canada Council for the Arts?
Response: If the artistic content of the podcast is eligible in a component (theatre, literary art, music, etc.), then production costs of the podcast can be an eligible cost.
We are open to all forms of dissem2017-18-stats-and-storiesination of artistic projects—notably digital forms of dissemination. We follow the evolution of artistic practices so that we can respond to ongoing changes.
Are filmmakers receiving funding from the National Film Board (NFB) also eligible for Canada Council funding?
Response: The Canada Council supports independent filmmakers that have made films through the NFB, but we don’t support NFB-produced films.
The Canada Council funds independent work in the media arts where the artist is the driving force behind the proposed work. The media artist must also maintain complete creative and editorial control over the work, hold ownership of the final work, and receive a significant part of the revenues generated by the work.
When the NFB produces a film, it maintains a credit as the producer. This means they have final editorial and creative control over the films they produce, rather than the artists.
Does the Canada Council offer translation support for works written in languages other than Canada’s official languages (French and English)?
Response: The Canada Council actually supports the translation of Canadian-authored literary works written in any language into French, English or an Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) language, for publication through the Translation component of the Arts Across Canada Program. Writers and translators who want to apply for the Council’s support to translate literary works into Canada’s official languages need to do so through an eligible publishing house.
What mechanisms are in place to evaluate the Council’s effectiveness and its ability to deliver on its mandate?
Response: The Canada Council evaluates its effectiveness and impact by measuring its results against the goals outlined in our strategic plan (Shaping a New Future, 2016-21), and against each program’s intended outcomes. In addition to this, the Council has a proactive disclosure policy as part of our commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability. On our website, you can access, among other corporate data, information about individuals and organizations who received Council funding, as well as information on the impact of these grants (in the Stats and Stories section). The Council also regularly undertakes program evaluations to examine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of its programs. Every year, the Council holds an Annual Public Meeting, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage tables the Council’s Annual Report in Parliament, both of which provide information on the Council’s impact.
Reports from the Auditor General remain an important independent and objective evaluation of the Council’s activities. In addition, the Council appears by invitation in front of various parliamentary standing committees, including the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Finance, to report on its activities.
Has the Canada Council considered establishing a presence on CBC TV for cultural programming, or a joint YouTube channel with the National Film Board of Canada to optimize public resources?
Response: We are currently exploring ways to work with fellow Crown corporations on initiatives that are aligned with the Council’s Strategic Plan and funding commitments. We agree that there are opportunities for us to work together to further maximize our respective mandates. That being said, the Council has a YouTube channel with up-to-date videos about our main activities and events.
Owing to political and/or historical reasons, some Canadians believe the highest awards category in Canada, the Governor General’s awards, should not be associated with the monarchy. Isn’t it time to change this?
Response: The Governor General’s awards have long been an integral part of the Canada Council, in partnership with the Governor General’s Office. The awards include the Governor General in their title in recognition of their history and the fact that we continue to partner with the Governor General’s Office towards the common goal of championing the arts and celebrating the accomplishments of Canadian artists.
Does the money allocated to Writing and Publishing in the former funding model remain earmarked for this discipline?
Response: Yes. At the launch of the New Funding Model, the Council made the commitment that the grant budgets of the former disciplinary sections would be the baseline for the future, and we continue to ensure this commitment is met.
Are peer assessment committees for written and spoken-word projects and literary festivals composed of writers and spoken-word artists, or are these applications now being assessed by people from other disciplines in addition to writers and spoken word artists?
Response: The Canada Council includes disciplinary expertise in its assessment committees. Our guidelines indicate that applications will be assessed “by a peer assessment committee representing a discipline or group of disciplines.” We do not guarantee that only one discipline will be represented on a peer assessment committee, as applications from multiple fields of practice may be grouped together.
The current funding model is comprised of programs that are open to all disciplines. While the Council’s peer assessment committees include disciplinary expertise, other types of expertise and factors are also considered to reflect the diversity of Canada’s population through representation from Indigenous, culturally diverse, Deaf and disability and official language minority communities, as well as regional representation and a balance of gender, age and official languages. This is meant to guarantee accountability, fairness, and transparency in our funding decisions.
Is artistic merit the primary criteria on which projects are assessed? To what extent does support from other funding agencies or the private sector factor?
Response: Artistic merit continues to be the primary criteria for all artistic projects. That said, in several grant program components (such as professional development and touring), the impact of the project is the criteria with the greatest weight. There is no preference for awarding grants to projects that are supported by other funding agencies or the private sector, but most components do have an assessment of feasibility, which includes consideration of a reasonable budget and other revenue sources. Except for very specific activities with smaller grants (such as travel or professional development), we’d recommend our applicants have more than one source of support. Our assessment criterion and their weighting are clearly stated in the guidelines for all of our grant program components.
Does the Canada Council for the Arts have any plans to update its policy with respect to self-published authors and their works?
Response: The eligibility of artists to the Canada Council’s programs is determined primarily according to the professional recognition of their peers. For literary writers, this consists of the critical selection and publication of the writer’s work through the editorial process of a professional literary publishing house and/or a magazine that pays royalties to its authors.
We don’t currently offer funding programs for individuals who exclusively self-publish. However, we recognize that the publishing industry is evolving and we will continue to monitor the situation. Writers who have been both self-published and published in a manner that meets the Council’s eligibility requirements can apply for funding to work on a new literary project through the Research and Creation component of the Explore and Create program. In addition, self-published authors may register their titles with our Public Lending Right Program.
Individuals who are First Nations, Inuit or Métis may apply for a self-publishing project through the Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples Program.
Would the Canada Council provide support for the operation of small to medium-sized arts spaces?
Response: The Council provides operational support to arts spaces of all sizes via its various grants, such as core grants in the Artist-Driven Organizations component, which supports small to medium sized artist-run centres across Canada or the Artistic Institutions component, which provides funds for medium to large theatres. The Council also supports organizations of all sizes in the administration and delivery of their programming through various project grants, such as the Public Outreach component, which supports the presentation of works, or the Sector Innovation and Development component, which provides grants for programming such as workshops or conferences. In project grants, operational costs associated with, and limited to, the delivery of a project can be considered.
Does the Canada Council’s Arts Abroad Program accommodate grant applications from large, multi-disciplinary collectives that include both artists and arts organizations?
Response: The Canada Council defines a multidisciplinary group or collective as an entity that includes two or more eligible Canadian professional artists from two or more artistic disciplines collaborating as a group.
To be eligible as a multidisciplinary group, you must have:
- professional artists as leaders and core members
- pay artists’ fees
Each group member must have:
- a minimum of two years of professional activities (but not necessarily in consecutive months)
- at least one professional public presentation
An arts organization can be a partner for the project, but not a member of the collective which is composed of individual artists.
Would the Canada Council consider increasing the subsistence allowance for grant recipients?
Response: When the current funding model was designed, we examined the concept of subsistence, and realized that in the past the concept was used by some programs in lieu of artistic fees paid to the applicant for undertaking the project’s activities. We now interpret subsistence as costs that are unrelated to the project’s activities but incurred by the applicant in order to be able to take the time to work on the project (i.e. babysitting fees or living expenses while attending a workshop). In most program components that involve artistic activities, the budget form indicates that the applicant can ask for subsistence of $500/week or “an appropriate fee for your services.” If a reasonable payment for the activity undertaken by the applicant is a $20,000 fee for work that spans a few months, the applicant may ask for this amount. The assessment committee will provide an opinion as to whether the amount is reasonable for the type of work and duration of the activity.
Can applicants from remote communities submit a recorded application rather than a written one?
Response: The Canada Council is aware that it can be challenging to access internet in some remote communities, and we have therefore implemented a process for the submission of offline applications for applicants living in those areas. That said, we don’t have a system for recorded applications currently in place. For applicants in remote areas and/or with little experience in writing grant applications, we recommend they contact our program officers who will be available to provide advice on how to submit their application.