Application Guidelines – Programming: Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters

Canada Arts Presentation Fund

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Objectives and expected results for the Canada Arts Presentation Fund

The Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) provides financial assistance to Canadian not-for-profit organizations that professionally present arts festivals or performing arts series (arts presenters), and organizations that offer support to arts presenters.

Through the CAPF, Canadians have access to a variety of professional artistic experiences in their communities. Each year, we support approximately 600 professional arts festivals and performing arts series, as well as other activities related to art presentation, in more than 250 cities or communities across Canada.

Ultimately, the long-term results of the program allows Canadians to value and engage with professional artistic experiences.

The CAPF has two main components – Programming and Development. The CAPF Programming component has two sub-components: Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters; and Presenter Support Organizations.

Objectives and expected results for the Programming: Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component

The Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component supports existing professional arts festivals and performing arts series presenters to offer activities that connect artists with Canadians in their communities. This is primarily achieved through performances, as well as through audience development and outreach initiatives such as pre- or post-show panel discussions, public lectures and workshops, residencies, demonstrations, public rehearsals, and other forms of community engagement activities.

The expected results of the Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component include the following:

  • Arts presenter organizations offer a variety of professional artistic experiences to Canadians; and
  • Canadians in all regions of the country engage and participate in a variety of professional artistic experiences offered by arts presenters.

Application deadlines

April 1st and October 15th for projects which will occur after April 1st of the following year:

  • April 1st is the application deadline for projects starting between April 1st and June 30th of the following year.
  • All other applicants must contact their regional office to determine which deadline is appropriate for their organization.

When an application falls on a weekend or statutory holiday, it is extended to the following working day.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding from the Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component, your organization must be:

  • a not-for-profit organization incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act or the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (or under corresponding provincial or territorial legislation);
  • a provincial, territorial or municipal institution (including agencies and public educational institutions that organize presentation activities for the public); or
  • an Indigenous institution or organization (Inuit, Métis, First Nations).

All eligible organizations must:

  • have a clear arts presentation focus in their vision or mandate that is reflected in their by-laws and/or other governance documents;
  • have as their mission the presentation of works of professional artists;
  • keep separate, clear and exact accounts for these presentation activities;
  • have been in continuous professional operation for a minimum of one year prior to the application deadline;
  • present works that originate from more than one province or territory;
  • provide the presentation venue, as well as technical and promotional support for the presentation;
  • charge an admission fee to the public for part or all of the presentation season or the festival; and
  • pay a guaranteed fee to professional artists for presentations offered within a festival or series and provide professional presentation conditions. (The contractual commitments concerning remuneration to artists by Fringe and street-performer festivals also meet CAPF eligibility requirements).

Performing Arts Series Presenters must also:

  • have presented in a professional manner a minimum of three distinct shows, or a series of performances within a season, created, produced and performed by other professional artists.

Professional Arts Festivals must also:

  • have presented in a professional manner a festival lasting a minimum of three consecutive days, of various works created, produced and/or performed by professional artists; and
  • program a festival that extends over a period of three days (minimum) to four weeks (generally) and includes the presentation of a minimum of three distinct professional works/performances.

Media arts festivals must also:

  • demonstrate a commitment to presenting works by independent professional artists, including films, video or audio productions, and new media. We will give priority to media arts festivals where artists are remunerated to undertake outreach activities with the general public during the festival.

Eligible projects

The following projects are eligible under the Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component:

  • presentation of a minimum of three distinct professional shows, as part of a performing arts series, in one or several artistic disciplines and from more than one province or territory;
  • presentation within a festival format of at least three distinct professional performances or events from one or several artistic disciplines and from more than one province or territory;
  • community engagement activities, including audience development/outreach activities (see Glossary for more details);
  • professional development/networking activities for arts presenters such as attending workshops and conferences;
  • partnerships and collaborations including other arts presenters, not-for-profit arts community organizations and/or educational institutions; and
  • volunteer participation including training and training materials.

The following projects are ineligible for funding under the Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters sub-component:

  • book fairs, galas, competitions, receptions and hospitality;
  • tours within or outside Canada, self-presentation or creation and production activities (these activities may be supported by the Canada Council for the Arts);
  • infrastructure projects including the purchase of specialized equipment (these activities may be supported by the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund);
  • activities specifically celebrating Canada Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or Multiculturalism Day (these activities may be supported by the Celebrate Canada program);
  • festival and activities that receive financial support under the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program;
  • deficit reduction plans and feasibility studies; and
  • literary reading series, and film, video and media arts series.

Eligible expenses

Only project-related expenses are eligible, which can be of cash and in-kind value; these may include:

  • costs related to the selection of artists, artists’ fees, and per diems, accommodation and travel related to artists;
  • administrative and presenting salaries or fees;
  • promotion/marketing costs, including costs associated with social media;
  • hall and venue rentals or equal value of operating costs;
  • technical and front of house costs;
  • costs related to community engagement activities, including audience development/outreach activities;
  • costs incurred for organizing volunteer participation;
  • training and professional development activities for arts presenters, such as workshop facilitation, registration and material costs, coordination, mentorship expenses, travel, accommodation and per diems related to business activities; and
  • administration costs.

International artists’ travel costs are an eligible expense but cannot be reimbursed by the program; please contact us for more information.

In-kind contributions are considered real contributions to the cost of the proposed project but are not reimbursable. Donated goods and services may be considered in-kind contributions if they:

  • are essential to your project’s success;
  • are eligible and would otherwise have to be purchased or paid for by you;
  • can be measured at fair market value (i.e.: in relation to similar goods and services); and
  • are balanced by an equal revenue in your budget (i.e.: total in-kind expenses equal total in-kind revenues).

We cannot fund expenses incurred before we receive your application. If you incur expenses for your project before receiving written confirmation of your funding approval, you will be doing so at your own risk.

Eligibility criteria

We are responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its projects and related expenses.

The CAPF is highly competitive. Requests for funding typically exceed available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application is not a guarantee of funding.

Limits of government assistance

To ensure the success of your project, we encourage you to have other funding sources. This may include contributions from your organization, the private sector or other levels of government.

The total financial assistance received from the CAPF and other levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 90% of the total project-related costs.

For Professional Arts Festivals, we can fund up to 25% of eligible expenses or a maximum of $100,000 per fiscal year in the case of grants and 25% of eligible expenses or $500,000 per year in the case of contributions. In exceptional circumstances, support of up to $1,000,000 may be available for festivals with total eligible expenses over $5,000,000.

For Performing Arts Series Presenters, we can support up to 25% of eligible expenses, or a maximum of $100,000 in the case of grants and $200,000 in the case of contributions.

Provided that the need is clearly demonstrated and validated by the program, on rare occasions we may fund up to 50% of eligible expenses for projects offered in communities facing unusual barriers that cannot be overcome without substantial assistance, or for artistic disciplines that are underserved.

Please note, however, that funding demands on the CAPF are extensive; therefore, the average level of support ranges from 7% to 17% of eligible expenses, depending on your region.

Applying for more than 12 months

You may request funding for the same activities for a number of fiscal years. You must show that you have the capacity to complete the planned activities on an annual basis. This is demonstrated with realistic results and budget projections, sound governance and continued financial viability.

Your organization must at a minimum:

  • have received funding from the CAPF for at least two consecutive years, or for the last two editions in the case of an arts festival held every two years; and
  • not have an accumulated deficit exceeding 15% of the expenses from its last completed fiscal year.

If your organization receives funding for more than one fiscal year, you must provide a final activities report for each year of funding.

How to apply

Read these Application Guidelines in their entirety before completing your application.

If you are submitting an application to the CAPF for the first time, you are encouraged to contact the nearest office of the Department of Canadian Heritage to verify whether your organization and your project are eligible.

You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package to be considered for funding. A complete application package includes the General Application Form and the following supporting documents:

  • Budget Template: Revenues and Expenses;
  • Proposed Activities and Projected Results;
  • Sample professional artist contract or letter of agreement used by your organization;
  • Promotional materials (brochures, programs or reports of past events);
  • Organizational chart including a list of permanent employees;
  • List of board members, their professional occupations and the list of volunteer committees;
  • Current planning documents, if available;
  • Board resolution authorizing this application and designating the person with signing authority (duly signed by the board chair or president of your organization);
  • Curriculum vitae of the executive director (and artistic director, if applicable);
  • Copy of the letters of patent and their amendments or the corporate charter;
  • Most recent financial statements:
    • Audited financial statements for organizations having previously received a contribution from the CAPF in the amount of $250,000 or more; and for new applicants with an operating budget greater than $500,000;
    • Non-audited financial statements for organizations having previously received a contribution from the CAPF in the amount of less than $250,000; and for new applicants with an operating budget of $500,000 or less.

If you are a first-time applicant, you must also provide:

Application process

Please submit your application in only one format.

Mail or in-person submissions

You can mail, courier or hand-deliver your complete application package to package to the nearest office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Your application must be postmarked or hand-delivered no later than the published deadline to be considered.

Email submissions

We encourage you to submit your application package electronically, at the email address for the nearest office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The embedded “sent” date must be no later than 11:59 p.m. local time on the date of the application deadline for your application to be considered eligible.

Please contact the nearest office of the Department of Canadian Heritage if you wish to submit your application package by fax.

How applications are evaluated

We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility before being evaluated using the national standard criteria described below and the past performance of your organization. It will be compared with other applications from your region and prioritized in relation to the funds available.

When prioritizing eligible applications, we will take into consideration:

  • the variety of your programming such as: new artistic disciplines or new genres within a discipline; ethnocultural expressions; Indigenous artistic expression; artists from official language minority communities; artistic productions created in other provinces or territories or outside Canada; and works by emerging artists;
  • community engagement activities, including audience development/outreach activities;
  • presenting conditions and opportunities offered to professional artists;
  • partnerships that strengthen the contribution the arts make to community life; and
  • the variety and amount of professional artistic presentations available within your region.

Site visits or meetings with your organization may be undertaken by the program staff.

Failure to submit a final report for a previously funded project will be considered in the evaluation of your new application and could result in the rejection of your new application.

Evaluation criteria

We will evaluate all eligible applications using the following criteria:

Relevance of programming (30%)

  • Clear alignment between the organization’s mandate, artistic vision, the proposed programming and the CAPF objective;
  • Contribution to a variety of professional artistic choices for Canadians as demonstrated through previous presentations and proposed activities; and
  • Demonstration of the particular role the organization plays within the local, regional and, if applicable, national and international ecology of professional arts presentation.

Impact on audiences, artists, and communities (40%)

  • Capacity to retain, expand or diversify audiences and knowledge about community demographics;
  • Capacity to build partnerships that encourage the links between the arts and communities;
  • Conditions and opportunities offered to professional artists; and
  • Appropriateness of the marketing and communication plan (which includes a fair ticket policy, if applicable).

Management and financial health (30%)

  • Appropriate resources (financial, human) and expertise (volunteer, board, staff) to undertake the proposed activities; and
  • Realistic and balanced budget with diversified public and private sector funding sources and a sound financial performance record.

Your application may be evaluated by a regional review committee, which will compare and prioritize it with other applications from your region in relation to the funds available.

Application processing time

For application processing time, please refer to the Service standards for Canadian Heritage funding programs or contact the program.

We will acknowledge receipt of your application within two weeks of submitting your application.

If we solicit additional information about your application your organization will have five business days to submit the information.

Funding decisions

We reserve the right to target our funding to specific activities. Please note that decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final.

How funding is provided

We will determine if funding will be disbursed as a grant or as a contribution.

grant is a payment issued to a recipient for a project. The conditions you agreed to at the time of application will apply. At the end of your project, you may be required to submit a report and/or participate in the evaluation of results.

contribution is a conditional payment issued to your organization for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. The agreement is signed by us and your organization and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

Depending on the level of support, you may be required to submit interim reports during your project. If you receive $250,000 or more per fiscal year as a contribution, you are required to submit audited financial statements or audited financial reports.

Additional conditions may apply and will be included in your funding agreement.

Anti-racism and anti-hate

Canadian Heritage is committed to address systemic racism, promote diversity, and create environments where every individual is valued, respected, and empowered. We strive to challenge discriminatory beliefs and practices, cultivate understanding and empathy, and champion policies and programs that advance equality for all.

Organizations receiving funding, including any representatives whether employees, consultants, or other persons directly affiliated with the organization, must take steps to ensure they respect the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy.

Official languages requirements

We are committed to taking positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and to promote the use of English and French in Canadian society. If you receive funding, you agree to comply with the official languages requirements set out in your application or in your funding agreement.

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

If you receive funding, you must publicly acknowledge – in English and in French – the financial support received from us in all communications materials and promotional activities. Additional requirements may be included in your funding agreement.

For additional information, please refer to our Guide on the public acknowledgement of financial support.

Access to information requests

We are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The information you submit in your application may be disclosed in accordance with these Acts.

Disclosure of information

By submitting your funding application, you authorize us to disclose any information submitted with this application within the Government of Canada or to outside entities for the following purposes:

  • to reach a decision;
  • to evaluate the results of the project; and
  • to support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program

We reserve the right to audit your accounts and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of your funding agreement. We also conduct periodic Program evaluations, during which you may be required to present documentation.

You must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to perform the audit or the evaluation for five years. Demonstrated failure to maintain such records may result in the repayment of amounts previously received.

Contact us

Department of Canadian Heritage
Canada Arts Presentation Fund
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B3

1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)
1-888-997-3123 (toll-free)

Agents are available to answer your questions, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST).

Regional offices of the Department of Canadian Heritage.


Admission fee

An amount paid by audience members in exchange for access to an arts presentation. Exceptions to this admission fee may be made when the event occurs within communities facing specific barriers to participation.

If an exception applies to the applicant, it must contact a program officer to discuss the situation prior to sending an application.

Artistic discipline
An identified and recognizable area of artistic activity, known as a discipline which involves its own artistic process, vocabulary, aesthetic and history. These disciplines are known as theatre, dance, music, literary, visual and media arts, circus and others. Each of these distinct disciplines encompasses genres that further define the specificities of the artistic practice and its appreciation.
Artistic experience
Contact with artists or work in an environment that may include traditional encounters performances or non-traditional encounters with the artist(s) (e.g. talks, presentations of excerpts from performances in the community - at shopping malls, in parks, etc.).
Artistic vision

For a presenter organization, artistic vision lies in the presenter’s perception of what could be offered in the community in order to allow both qualitative and quantitative audience development, as well as diversification of the artistic experiences available in that community.

Artistic vision assumes a capacity to imagine, develop and implement a range of programs, dynamically combining the potential of the audience and of the artistic milieu. This vision is based on:

  • knowledge of the audience, its tastes, interests and development potential;
  • knowledge of the local community and other artistic experiences available; and
  • knowledge of the artistic milieu and the various disciplines, traditions, contemporary trends, individual creators, the circumstances and conditions for carrying out activities, and the available programming opportunities.
Arts festivals
A number of artistic events or shows organized, in one location, over a specified period of time. Festivals provide an opportunity to share, with a broad audience, experiences and customs related to a specific theme or form of cultural or artistic expression (e.g. dance, music, theatre, traditions). Festival programming is guided by a clearly articulated artistic vision. In general, festivals must last a minimum of three days to four weeks. Festivals must include the presentation of a minimum of three distinct professional works, from more than one province or territory.
Audience development/outreach
Audience development/outreach is a process that may involve two stages. The first consists of identifying, informing, researching, reaching and engaging a new audience through specific promotional activities, market research, audience profiling and establishing contacts in particular sectors of the community. Once the audience has been identified and engaged, the second stage consists of building knowledge and appreciation of specific artistic disciplines or forms, presenting new artists or disciplines, and then developing the demand for such presentations. This is achieved through public discussion/lectures, pre- or post-show panel discussions, roundtable presentations, workshops open to the public, demonstrations, residencies, seminars, public rehearsals and other forms of contact with the community by professional artists programmed by the presenter in the community. All audience development/outreach activities must be directed to the general public.
Audited financial report
The Audited Financial Report is prepared by professional accountants who are independent and shall clearly include all of the revenues realized and expenditures incurred by the Recipient for the given period with regard to the Project.
Audited financial statements
A complete set of financial statements including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Audited financial statements are completed by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization. The certified accountant performs auditing activities in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards.
Balanced budget
The organization must show that revenues equal expenses with a zero balance for the purposes of the proposed activities as presented in the CAPF Budget Template.
Cash flow
A presentation of all anticipated revenues and planned expenses that will occur over the length of your project. At the beginning of your project, your cash flow will have only forecasted revenues and expenses. Over time, your cash flow will be updated to reflect the actual revenues and expenses.
Community engagement
Community engagement activities can include: partnerships with other community-based organizations or events that support the organization's mandate; active outreach to schools, community centres or other venues where professional artists engage with the community; initiatives that reach out to specific segments of the population (i.e. youth, disabled, seniors, or underserved communities); programming that engages local professional artists; extending programming outreach to other communities; and programming that combines and complements paid admission events with free or low-cost events.
A contest or event during which participants are evaluated or judged. Note that competitions are not eligible for CAPF funding.
Artistic work, research and production of a new, revised or repertoire artwork (e.g. play, dance, score, script, sculpture, video or installation). Creation/production activities are not eligible for the CAPF funding.
Demographics refer to selected population characteristics. This is understood to be in a specific geographical area, community and/or audience reach. Commonly-used demographics include ethnicity, age, income, disabilities, educational attainment, home ownership, employment status and location.
Donation (monetary)
A sum of money that is usually given either by an individual, a company or an organization. The recipient must have a legal charitable number and acknowledge this donation through a tax receipt.
Ethnocultural communities
A group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage. For the purpose of this definition, ethnocultural communities include Canadians of diverse culture such as, but not limited to African, Arab, Asian, Latin American or mixed heritage.
Fair ticketing policy
A ticketing policy stipulates the grounds on which the organization sets ticket prices. It can take into consideration the cost of tickets for other events, the economic situation in the region, a particular audience, charges for similar activities, etc. A presenter may also seek sponsors in order to offer an activity free of charge. The Department may decide not to support an activity if the organization’s ticket pricing policy creates unfair competition for its colleagues. Exceptions may be made when the event occurs within communities facing specific barriers to participation.
Financial statements
A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Financial statements may be audited or unaudited.
Final report
A final report is submitted at the end of your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your final report needs to provide the results of the activities you have undertaken for the duration of your project and include a final report of actual revenues and expenses.
Guaranteed fee
The negotiated amount a presenter agrees to pay the professional artist or artistic organization for a performance, regardless of the number of tickets sold. This fee may include artists’ fees, per diems, accommodation and travel. The presenter may also offer an additional fee in addition to the guaranteed fee.
Indigenous communities
Indigenous communities include First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
Media arts
Arts that make use of film processes, video and audio techniques, new media, or a combination of any of these processes.
Official-language minority communities
The official-language minority communities are the Anglophone communities residing in Quebec and the Francophone communities residing outside of Quebec.
Partnerships usually support programming or audience development goals. They are considered strategic alliances made with other presenters, not-for-profit arts and community organizations and/or educational institutions in which resources, material, and/ or labour, are shared to realize organizational presenting goals. Partners may include peer organizations that have access to different markets or may be interested in merging programs to increase and widen audience reach and share expenses.
Performing arts
Includes the entire range of genres (traditional, contemporary, avant-garde, classical, street, etc.) associated with all the live art disciplines: dance, theatre, music, performance art, spoken word, circus and comedy.
Performing arts series
A series of at least three performing arts presentations grouping performances over a season. A season may focus on a single artistic discipline or may cover a number of them. Choices are guided by a clearly-defined artistic vision.
Presenter support organization
Organization that organizes activities and offers services to its members and directly furthers the interests of presenters, artists and other artistic organizations, through activities associated with the delivery of professional services.
Professional artist
Artist who has specialized training in the field (not necessarily in academic institutions), who is recognized by his or her peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition), who is committed to devoting more time to the artistic activity, if financially feasible, and who has a history of public presentation.
Professional arts presenter
For the purposes of the CAPF, professional arts presenters select the artistic programming for public presentation in their community based on an artistic vision. They purchase performances and other artistic activities created by professional artists, groups and companies; and they are responsible for paying a guaranteed fee to the producer for each presentation. They provide the venue and supply the technical and promotional support. Presenters may also organize audience development and/or outreach in support of their artistic programming. They have a thorough knowledge of the audiences in their communities, of the professional arts community and of the various networks that support both the artists and the presenters.
Ability of the presenter to keep the interest of past audiences by the continued effort of offering them quality programming.
Assumption by professional artists or artistic organizations of the financial risks related to presentation of their own programs, with ticket revenues going to them. The artist/organization usually takes responsibility for administrative, technical and promotional aspects. Self-presentation activities are not eligible for CAPF funding.
To sponsor something is to support an event, activity, person or organization by providing money or other resources in exchange for access to an audience.
An individual working on behalf of others without receiving financial or material gain.

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