BC Arts Council Announces Program and Policy Changes

Following a series of community consultations held across the province in 2014/15 as part of its program review process, the BC Arts Council has made some changes to its programs and policies.

Updates include the development of a four-stream funding model to frame the BC Arts Council's categories of funding support, the introduction of an Enhanced Capacity Program and an Interim Special Project Assistance Program, and new requirements for reporting. 

Although programs such as Capacity and Sustainability and Innovations were phased out following the 2015/16 intake as a result of the program review, the funding model framework does not affect program offerings or priorities, but rather provides a structure and organization for programs. 

The funding model:

  • maintains the core delivery of funding to support ongoing and time-limited artistic development and engagement activities in Professional Arts and Community Arts;
  • reflects the need for flexibility in responding to current priorities of the BC Arts Council and the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, such as youth engagement and professional development for early career practitioners, through programs within Strategic Initiatives;
  • upholds the importance of funding partnerships which support activities across all three through Partnerships. 

Funding Streams

The model organizes programs under the categories of Professional Arts, Community Arts, Strategic Initiatives, and Partnerships.

  1. Professional Arts Funding: Provides both time-limited and sustained funding to support the activities of professional individual artists and arts organizations in the creation, production and dissemination of artistic works; the advancement of artistic practice across disciplines; the provision of artistic programs and public engagement opportunities; and access to skills, training and development opportunities for arts professionals at all stages of their artistic careers. 
  2. Community Arts Funding: Provides both time-limited and sustained funding to support the activities of volunteer-run and community arts organizations in the production, presentation, development and dissemination of community-based artistic work; the provision of public and community access to a range of May 2016 quality artistic and cultural activities; and the development of leadership, support and engagement with arts and culture at the community level. 
  3. Strategic Initiatives Funding: Provides funding to the arts and culture sector in response to specific strategic goals and policy directives originating from both Council and ministry/government priorities. Program initiatives, supports and services not tied to specific granting opportunities may be offered in alignment with the strategic goals and priorities of Council and/or delivered by Council on behalf of government. 
  4. Partnerships Funding: Maximizes specific areas of expertise and program delivery in support of Council’s strategic priorities. Current partnership programs are delivered through First Peoples’ Cultural Council, BC Touring Council, Creative BC and ArtStarts in Schools. Program initiatives delivered through partnership agreements align across Professional, Community and Strategic Funding streams.

Programs will be organized within these four streams as follows:

Professional Arts Funding

  • Operating Assistance – Annual and Extended Cycle 
  • Professional Project Assistance 
  • Individual Arts Awards 
  • Scholarships 
  • Publishing 
  • Professional Development 
  • Touring Initiatives

Strategic Initiatives Funding

  • New: Enhanced Capacity (to be introduced beginning 2016/17)
  • New: Interim Special Project Assistance (to be introduced beginning 2016/17) 
  • Capacity and Sustainability (suspended following 2015/16 intake) 
  • Innovations (suspended following 2015/16 intake) 
  • Early Career Development 
  • Youth Engagement

Community Arts Funding

  • Community Arts Councils 
  • Community Arts Development 
  • Community Arts Festivals 
  • Arts-Based Community Development

Partnerships Funding

  • First Peoples’ Cultural Council: Aboriginal Arts Development Awards and youth funding 
  • BC Touring Council: Community Presenters and youth funding 
  • ArtStarts in Schools: Artists in the Classroom, Artists in Education funding 
  • Creative BC

New Programs

Enhanced Capacity 
Beginning in the fall of 2016, organizations receiving Operating Assistance may apply for new Enhanced Capacity support, concurrent with their extended cycle intake application. This funding is intended to help organizations build capacity and respond to strategic priorities, challenges and opportunities and will offer enhanced support for operations for the duration of the funding cycle. This approach allows flexibility in response to organizations’ fluctuations in cycles of activity or capacity needs, while still providing stable, base operating support.

Interim Special Project Assistance Program
Prior to transitioning to the Enhanced Capacity approach over the next two years, the BC Arts Council is offering an Interim Special Project Assistance Program. Eligibility for the program will follow the same guidelines as previous Capacity & Sustainability and Innovations programs. 

The Interim Special Project Assistance Program will be for one intake only. Submission deadline is July 4, 2016. The maximum award available is $30,000. Guidelines and application form will be available four to six weeks before the application deadline. A permanent program to support Strategic Opportunities for project funding applicants will be launched in 2017.

New Reporting Requirements

Reporting requirements for all Project Assistance and Individual Arts Awards programs have been revised. 

Effective June 30, 2016, applicants with overdue final reports will be ineligible to apply to BC Arts Council Project Assistance and Individual Arts Awards programs. Project Assistance or Individual Arts Awards submissions from applicants with overdue final reports will be disqualified before adjudication. 

Final reports must be submitted within 30 days of project completion. End dates for BCAC funded projects currently in progress must be kept up to date to ensure eligibility for future grant competitions. Changes to project end dates should be requested prior to the original project end date.

The 2014/15 program review aimed to re-assess ways to deliver funding more effectively and efficiently, while responding to the emerging realities of arts organizations across the province. The BC Arts Council will continue to review programs and implement the results of the program review to ensure that funding streams and programs meet the needs of the community.


See bcartscouncil.ca for details, and please contact Susan McLean, BC Arts Council Communications Officer, with any questions: 250 952 0694 or Susan.McLean@gov.bc.ca.

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