Art Administration in Canada


Art Administration in Canada

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Art Administration in Canada

Canada’s Funding Systems and Requirements

The Canada Council facilitates receivership of funds for art projects in Canada  and is responsible for assisting groups, individual artists and organizations to engage in art-related activities and receive grants to fund their work. These funds are presented in the forms of services, grants, payments and prizes to professional artists, art organizations and groups (OAAG, 2004). The system requires applicants to be either Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have acquired specialized training in artistic techniques and ability, and it is mandatory for all forms of funding provided by the Canada Council. An academic setting is not obligatory, but it is necessary to have professional skills in the art field. The principle use of these financial resources is directed towards creation, presentation, and production of the works (OAAG, 2004). Professional development is also considered, as well as the proliferation of the art sector, and residency and travel of the applicant. During the years 2015 and 2016, the Canada Council disbursed an approximated $144.8 million to 2,055 artists who received funding in the form of grants.

Regarding prizes, they are offered with the inclusion of fellowships in collaboration with other organizations. These merits are designed to allow artists in different fields to achieve their ambitions and reach higher career levels. On a yearly basis, $2.8 million is disbursed as prizes to more than 39 organizations and 200 professional artists as recipients. The prizes include

  1. Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts
  2. Governor General’s Literary Awards
  3. Musical Instrument Bank
  4. Killam Prizes

Donors are categorized as a funding option for artists. In building the artistic future of Canadian artists, donations are collected from corporations, individuals, organizations, and foundations that encourage artists through empowering the Canada Council with essential financial support. This funding alternative also ensures that donors are recognized for their contribution in the art industry during award ceremonies and invitations, the Canada Council website and annual reports, social media campaigns supporting various artistic programs, and news releases. Donations are usually in the form of bequests, gifts in kind such as stocks and bonds, real property or stringed instruments, life insurance policies or direct gifts (OAAG, 2004). Before presenting these donations, the rewards are sent out as per the agreement established between the Council and donor, requiring acknowledgment from the recipient. A management system is structured in ensuring the fund, with strategic funding being an alternative fiscal source for art professionals and groups. This funding option’s mechanism is for specific aesthetic issues (OAAG, 2004). Primarily, the digital strategy fund facilitates the digital transformation within the art sector through channels of public access to cultural engagement and the arts, digital intelligence, and literary and organization change. In catering to minority communities and their inclusion in arts organizations, the Official Languages Fund is strategically set up to address isolation. This specialty-funding program also provides support for Canadian artists, organizations and groups whose mother tongue is not considered a majority language in their places of origin. Another program within the Canadian funding system is the market access strategy for the Official Language Minority Communities Fund (OLMC). The primary aim of this setup is to ensure that artists from these groups can access the diversified public and markets (OAAG, 2004). Community members of OLMC include Anglophones and Francophones, and they benefit significantly in regards to generating income and establishing connections on different levels to further diversify their skills.

The Media Arts Equipment Acquisition Fund is also useful in ensuring art professionals can benefit from technical infrastructure, particularly in the field of media art. For artists with disabilities, the Access Support Fund caters to their needs regarding accessing assistance and financial resources (OAAG, 2004). This program is aimed at aiding professionals who are deaf, mentally incapacitated, and disabled, as well as organizations working collaboratively with these individuals. This specialty group’s primary purpose is to ensure that specific services and support are presented to the disabled, as they are essential to the completion of their projects.

Fundraising and Approaching Corporate and Private Sectors

Fundraising is an essential process in Canada’s artistic scene. Various organizations are required to conduct events aimed at raising funds to avail fiscal resources and necessary equipment for art projects, primarily the Canada Council for the Arts (Brault, 2017). A radical extension of the government, it plays the role of an agency in fostering art development on a national level. Most of the fundraising events conducted by this body secure awards, grants and services crucial in assisting Canadian art organizations and professional artists. It also functions under the aegis  of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Public Lending Right Program to administer scholarly awards (Brault, 2017). Regarding approaching this government body for funds, professional artists and related organizations are required to comply with registration regulations and protocols enlisted on its website. Examples of organizations and charities involved in fundraising include

  1. The Canadian Center for Philanthropy

In addition to facilitating fundraisers, it is engaged in enlisting crucial grants and foundations interested in related events, links to volunteering and participation, a national survey of giving and ethical fundraising platforms conducted by nonprofit organizations and presenting information on essential publications (OAAG, 2004). It is considered a critical resource in organizing and hosting fundraisers.

  1. Department of Canadian Heritage

This body is involved in the fundraising and management of Canadian art galleries and museums. Through its different liaisons with various organizations and programs, the department ensures art organizations have availability and access to necessary resources for their artwork (, 2003). These collaborations include the Museums Assistance Program, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, Young Canada Works, the International Exhibition Program and many others.

  • La Fondation Daniel Langlois

This entity’s fundraising efforts focus on furthering scientific and artistic knowledge through fostering art’s integration in science on technological platforms. It nurtures artists whose works are confined within this scope through availing necessary resources that allow for awareness creation on matters regarding the impact of technology on cultural and natural environments as well as on human beings.

  1. Council of Foundations

This agency offers assistance to organizations through funds for art projects. It is a membership association comprising  entities involved in the fundraising process, and mostly corporations and foundations. Its services include offering platforms for conferences, workshops and job banks (OAAG, 2004). The primary approach for soliciting funds from private and corporate sectors is mastering the art of proposal writing for related art projects (Brault, 2017). The process of securing funds requires systematic organization, follow-through and research. Primarily, in reaching corporate foundations, it is vital to establish their exclusive operational locations. Information about their grant-giving requirements can be gathered from the Better Business Bureau to gain more insight on companies that support art projects. The approach should be one that meets the objectives of the foundation, which is to please stakeholders, promoting the company’s reputation, and employee motivation (, 2003). This technique is imperative as most foundations consider their gains in funding art projects, therefore requiring artists to align with their corporate objectives.

This approach’s success is further propelled by the idea that an artist comes from the community where the organization is active. This is important as the foundation can demonstrate its support for professional artists as well as undertake an endeavor beneficial to the locality (Brault, 2017). It is also vital to consider collaborating with a nonprofit sponsor when approaching corporate organizations for funding, for this factor increases the likelihood of accessing these funds as most organizations refuse to support individual artists lacking external support.  For private organizations, it is imperative to take into consideration wealthy individuals or families in directing funds to charitable courses (, 2003). With this in mind, an artist can approach them by tracking these foundations through the Foundation Center and learning more about their application requirements, proposal writing, and any additional information.

There are regional collections also located in various cities where artists can access reference librarians, material and free monthly training (Brault, 2017). Considerations that should be prioritized when approaching these entities include the understanding to ensure that the artistic work is significant and appealing enough to secure a grant. Social ramifications of its impact should be intricately evaluated, as most foundations prefer exhibiting artwork with a positive influence on the society in question and the world at large. It is crucial to develop a presentation highlighting the project’s unique aspects and an elaborative evaluation that meets the criteria outlined for fund acquisition.

Challenges Faced By Canadian and Chinese Artists

On reviewing the challenges faced by Chinese artists in comparison to their Canadian counterparts, there are clear-cut differences, hence necessitating the need to provide an overview to further understand  the art scene in each nation.

Canadian Artists Chinese Artists
Artists are not considered  professionals but rather hobbyists, which disqualifies them from deducting legitimate expenditure from income. They also pay higher taxes despite the instability of their income generations. These restrictions are also applicable to artists under sponsorship or funding through grants from art councils considered recognized professionals. They are also fully taxed from incomes disregarding the time taken in developing the artwork or publication. Tax-free zones have been created to protect artists from taxes (Friedman, 2017). A Chinese state-owned company is responsible for creating these exemptions as observed in other Chinese manufacturing industries. This translates to the protection of artists and art-related companies from paying high taxes on their content or creative works (Friedman, 2017).
Artists are excluded from enjoying social benefits such as pension programs, health benefits, and health insurance, unlike their working counterparts. The government is involved in the proliferation of the art and culture sectors in the country, therefore providing resources aimed at bringing global attention to these works.
Canadian professional artists lack access to programs allowing them to ensure their knowledge and skills are up to date. Despite the availability of technological mechanisms necessary in ensuring these objectives are met, artists are excluded from public retraining programs funded by Employment Insurance. They are also demoralized given the small incentive provided in sourcing fund training. Artists gain a lot of exposure pertaining to their knowledge and skills (Dean, 2013). Owing to the existence of different platforms where they are allowed to bid their work, they can discern the more popular methods preferable in art creation.
Artists also face career transition issues due to factors such as age and physical strain depending on their medium. The art market is considered to be in an unreliable state due to the increasing number of forgeries (Dean, 2013). This has led many buyers to doubt the authenticity of many Chinese art forms, which  has been detrimental to artists as they try to source funds from selling art.
Few artists can access additional health coverage from their employment packages. This issue is quite severe especially for artists who are exposed to toxic materials when preparing or creating their artworks. An example is visual artists, voice performers and stunt performers who are all placed in physically strenuous situations requiring proper health coverage in case of accidents. The art market lacks diversity and thus limits artists to only producing luxurious works given the lavish buying habits of their potential Chinese clients (Dean, 2013). This notion has forced many artists to forgo creativity, as they are likely to mimic works of ancient art masters to access the art luxury market.
Collective bargaining unions have been unable to negotiate terms of payment for artists, requiring them to create work before receiving their contracts. Joint strength is also diminished in situations where artists are forced to work according to  their contracts. Politics cripples the art market thus affecting the funds and revenue gained by artists.

Important Lessons

Within the two semesters, essential lessons learned include the processes of funding and the manner in which Canadian foundations and institutions contribute to the facilitation of  artistic projects. Several criteria are considered in the provision of funds, mainly from national organizations and foundations (Canada Council, 2018). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on funding art projects that concentrate on preventative approaches geared towards catalyzing systemic and long-term change. Some of the sectors concentrated on include educational improvement, global health, and community activities, which provide a positive influence through art (Canada Council, 2018). A similar nonprofit organization that promotes societal change is BMW Canada Inc. Its charity work is represented through small donations to different art organizations and groups throughout Canada. Applicants should highlight their focus on children, education, safety issues, youth and the environment. Examples of other organizations providing funding for artistic projects demonstrating awareness include

  • The Dominion Group Foundation
  • Canon Canada Inc
  • George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation
  • The Henry White Kinnear Foundation
  • Laidlaw Foundation
  • Mark’s Work Wearhouse Ltd
  • Ontario Arts Council
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • Sudbury Community Foundation
  • The McLean Foundation

Another lesson is the different forms of funding offered from both governmental and nonprofit organizations to facilitate art projects. There are three types  of grants available (Canada Council, 2018): firstly, operating donations that are directed towards catering ongoing art program costs. They may be issued on a yearly or multi-yearly basis depending on the organization and its intended purpose and support, And their maximum duration is five years. Secondly, the project grants are presented as activities, which are conducted on time with a strict timeline. Similar to operating donations, they are availed yearly or over several years with a cap of five years.

Thirdly, capital grants are focused on facilitating the purchase of equipment and undertaking renovations of a previously existing art project (Canada Council, 2018). The primary purpose of this type of grant is ensuring community spaces are enhanced for aesthetic and social uses. They also allow for improved accessibility and application of innovative technologies. For Canadian artists, including upcoming and established professionals, it is imperative to understand the different grant options available to determine which alternative fits their purpose as they set out on their artistic ambitions.























Brault, S. (2017, December 18). Funding the Arts in a Digital Age: A Canadian Approach. Retrieved from

Canada Council. (2018, February 4). Strategic Funds. Retrieved from

Ching, K. (2012, May 15). Meeting the Challenges of China’s Growing Art Market. Retrieved from

Dean, A. (2013, October 28). Forging an Art Market in China. Retrieved from

Friedman, A. (2017, April 5). China’s Diversifying Arts Funding Responds to Demand at Home and Abroad. Retrieved from (2003, December 23). The Business of Art: Proposal Writing for Funding Projects. Retrieved from

OAAG. (2004). OAAG online: Ontario Association of Art Galleries website. Retrieved from

Wang, M. (2016). The socially engaged practices of artists in contemporary China. Journal of Visual Art Practice, 1-24. doi:10.1080/14702029.2016.1179443


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