Application guidelines – Local Festivals

Building Communities through Arts and Heritage

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Objectives and expected results for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program

The Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program helps you celebrate your community, its past and its present. The Program increases opportunities for local artists; local artisans; local heritage performers or specialists; and local First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultural carriers to be involved in their community. It also allows local groups to commemorate their local history and heritage. The expected results of the program are as follows:

  • local citizens have the opportunity to get involved in their community through the arts and heritage;
  • partners within the local community support the festivals and local commemorative projects;
  • local citizens have access to local arts and local heritage; and
  • local artists, local artisans, local heritage performers or specialists and local cultural carriers have the opportunity to get involved in the community.

Objectives and expected results for the Local Festivals component

The Local Festivals component provides funding to local groups that organize recurring festivals and display local arts and heritage.

Application deadlines

  • January 31– for festivals starting between September 1 and December 31.
  • April 30 – for festivals starting between January 1 and June 30.
  • October 15 – for festivals starting between July 1 and August 31.

When the application deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, it is postponed to the next business day.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding, your organization must be:

  • a local non-profit organization or local group – incorporated or unincorporated;
  • a local band council, a local tribal council or other local Indigenous government (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) or equivalent authority.

In addition, applicants must:

  • encourage local community engagement through activities that promote, celebrate, and preserve local performing and visual arts or local heritage;
  • have successfully organized a prior edition of the festival, within the past two years, that met all eligibility requirements of the Local Festivals component.

If your festival was previously funded by the Local Festivals component of the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program, you must have provided a completed final report on your festival to be eligible.

The following groups or individuals are not eligible:

  • individuals;
  • for-profit businesses;
  • municipal, provincial, federal or territorial governments and their agencies, councils or commissions;
  • educational institutions, including universities, colleges and school boards as well as public libraries and hospitals;
  • groups with a provincial/territorial, national or international mandate;
  • groups who have more than 50% of their board members living in another locality, region or province;
  • unions.


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

Requests for funding consistently exceed our available resources. Submitting an application does not guarantee that your project will be funded nor that the amount requested will be the amount awarded.

Eligible projects

To be eligible for funding from the Local Festivals component, your project must:

  • offer primarily arts and heritage programming;
  • present local performing artists, local artisans, local Elders, local cultural carriers, the work of local creators, or aspects of local heritage as a primary component;
  • encourage local community involvement by integrating volunteers into the project planning and delivery
  • be designed for the general public;
  • be easily accessed and appropriately promoted;
  • receive support in cash and in-kind from local community partners;
  • receive tangible support from your municipality or equivalent authority. You must provide written confirmation of this support;
  • have a balanced budget – no surplus or deficit;
  • present eligible activities for more than 24 hours over a period of less than 29 consecutive days. Your festival does not have to occur on consecutive days to be eligible.

Activities undertaken in the context of Indigenous celebrations such as Pow wows are eligible for funding.

The following activities are not eligible:

  • events of a religious or political nature
  • events of a primarily commercial nature, including food sales, art and craft sales, or book fairs;
  • sports or recreational activities;
  • activities whose primary purpose is fundraising or contest;
  • celebration of historical events that did not take place in Canada;
  • celebrations of personalities of other countries;
  • activities taking place outside Canada;
  • activities that are, in whole or in part, an extension of your organization’s regular or permanent programming;
  • conferences and other events not intended for the general public;
  • festivals that receive funding under the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, or one of the components of Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program (such as Celebrate Canada);
  • events that celebrate Canada Day (July 1); National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21); Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24); Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27); and other national holidays.

Eligible expenses

Only expenses related to the project are eligible and may include the following:

  • fees and expenses of local artists, local artisans, local cultural carriers, and local heritage performers;
  • fees and expenses related to the temporary exhibition of works of local artists, local artisans and local cultural carriers;
  • copyright and operating licenses;
  • advertising intended for the local population;
  • translation fees;
  • logistical expenses, for example security barriers, portable toilets, garbage bins;
  • fees to rent and temporarily install certain items, such as lighting and sound material and tents;
  • costs related to volunteers, such as training, coordination and recognition (for example, food and non-alcoholic beverages, distinctive clothing);
  • insurance for eligible activities;
  • financial audits when one is required by the Department.

The following expenses are not eligible:

  • your organization’s operating costs, including salaries, employee travel costs, equipment and office furniture, vehicles;
  • fees and expenses of non-local artists, artisans, cultural carriers, and heritage performers;
  • costs to commission or purchase works of art or craft, such as manuscripts, musical compositions, paintings and multimedia products;
  • costs related to creation, such as rehearsals, room rentals and creators’ fees;
  • costs related to production, such as costumes, decor, floats and display cases;
  • costs related to repairing or restoring artworks or crafts;
  • alcohol permits;
  • purchase of equipment and capital expenses, such as computers, stage design, raised platforms, lighting and sound material;
  • creation, production or distribution of souvenirs;
  • costs related to the research, planning and creation of books and exhibitions;
  • security services and ambulance services; and
  • fireworks.

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

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 amount of funding that you receive from the Local Festivals component and other levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100% of your total project-related costs.

We can fund up to 100% of eligible expenses or $100,000 per project in the case of grants and 100% of eligible expenses or $200,000 per project in the case of contributions. The total amount requested cannot exceed $200,000.

How to apply

Please read these Application Guidelines in their entirety before completing your application.

You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package to be considered for funding. Incomplete applications will be rejected. A complete application package includes the application forms and the following supporting documents:

  • the Budget form – Local Festivals;
  • a copy of brochures, programs, plans, financial information and reports from the previous edition of your festival;
  • a list of your local community partners, including the name and amount of the contribution, in cash or in-kind, of all local partners involved in the upcoming edition of your festival;

If your organization is incorporated, you must provide the following:

  • documents confirming that your organization is legally incorporated. You must write the exact “legal name or name of the corporate body” of your organization, as indicated in the incorporation documents, when you create your organization’s profile in our funding application system. The required documents include the following:
    • a copy of your organization’s letters patent and documents of incorporation;
    • a copy of your organization’s by-laws;
    • a copy of your organization’s two most recent financial statements (audited if available); and
    • a list of the members of your board of directors, including city or town of residence, clearly indicating which ones are elected representatives or employees from which level of government.

If your group is not incorporated, you must provide the following:

Additionally, a signed copy of the Confirmation of Support from Municipal Government or Equivalent Authority must be submitted. The application may be accepted and assessed, but no payment will be dispersed without the confirmation of support (in cash or in-kind) of the municipal government.

Application process

Your application, including all supporting documents, must be submitted electronically through the Canadian Heritage online system.

If, for some reason, you do not have access to the online system, please contact us.

How applications are evaluated

We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results.

Funding decisions are based on the number of applications received, and on the amount requested. The evaluation process takes into consideration the size of your town or city and could include a review of Internet content and articles in the media about your festival or your organization, as well as other public documents.

Failure to comply with any conditions of a previously funded project will be considered in the evaluation of your new application and could result in a rejection of your new application.

Evaluation criteria

The following factors will be considered:

The way arts and heritage activities are featured during the events and the extent to which your festival will make local arts and local heritage better known in the community:

  • Number of local artists, local artisans, local cultural carriers, and local heritage performers involved;
  • Appropriate promotion and visibility opportunities dedicated to local artists, local artisans, local cultural carriers, and local heritage performers in your programming.

How much your festival engages the local community:

  • The number of volunteers who participate and their contribution to the planning and realization of your festival;
  • The number of community partners involved in your festival, such as community associations, historical societies, philanthropic clubs, local businesses and individuals;
  • The level of participation of the local community;
  • The demonstrated accessibility and appropriate promotion of your festival.

The extent to which your organization has the ability to successfully carry out the project as proposed:

  • Your ability to carry out the event on a reasonable and balanced budget (without surplus or deficit);
  • The results of previous editions of your festival and how they contributed to the program’s objectives.

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 after receiving it. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt within this time, please contact us.

Funding decisions

Please note that all decisions concerning eligibility and funding amounts are final.

How the funding is provided

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

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

A contribution is a conditional payment issued to your organization or group for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. This agreement is signed by your organization and by us and outlines the terms and conditions for receiving payments. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

You may be required to submit interim reports during your project. Additional conditions may apply and, if applicable, will be included in your funding agreement.

Workplace well-being

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to promoting healthy workplaces where harassment, abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. Organizations that receive funding from Canadian Heritage must take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

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 and 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 the Government of Canada 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 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 your 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

Canadian Heritage
Building Communities through Arts and Heritage
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, QC  J8X 4B3
1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)
1-888-997-3123 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired)

Agents are available to answer your questions, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET)

Regional offices of the Department of Canadian Heritage


Articles of association
Document outlining the goal (mandate) of a group and the legitimate purposes that are pursued. This document should provide assurance that the association does not intend to earn a profit and should list the association’s internal rules and regulations.
An individual who makes crafts using glass, wood, stone, textiles and leather, according to ancestral traditions.
An individual who practices an artistic discipline: music, dance, theatre, literary, visual or media arts.
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.
People who live in and share the same geographical area, which is smaller than a province or a territory.
Community engagement
Community engagement represents the strength of the collaboration between members of a community. Community engagement can take many forms, and partners can include organized groups, local businesses, or individuals. Local citizens may be engaged as volunteers, board members, artists, artisans, professionals, consultants, etc.

An activity in which participants are evaluated or judged. The Program will not fund any activities that rank or grade participants, give prizes or ribbons (for example: music/dance competitions, dog-sled racing, and agricultural competitions or rodeos).

Activities undertaken in the context of Indigenous celebrations such as Pow wows are not considered contest for the purpose of this program.

Cultural Carriers
Individuals whose role within First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities supports the preservation, retention, and knowledge transfer of Indigenous worldviews, cultural practices and traditions through art and creative practice. This may include Elders, knowledge keepers, traditional educators and language holders.
A period of artistic or performance celebrations in the same geographic location during a limited time. Festivals help the general public to become familiar with experiences and customs on various themes or forms of expression from cultural or artistic fields.
Final report
A form submitted at the end of your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your final report provides the results of the activities you have undertaken for the duration of your project. A final report template will be provided to you for completion.
Comprises activities related to tangible or intangible attributes related to history. Examples: artifacts, art objects, archives, stories, songs, legends, demonstrations, traditions, historical sites and events.
Indigenous communities
Indigenous communities are First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
In-kind contribution (in-kind support)

In-kind support is considered to be a real contribution to the total planned expenses, but is not reimbursable. Donated goods or services may be eligible if they:

  • are eligible expenses and would otherwise be purchased by the recipient;
  • are assessed at fair market value (in relation to the purchase of similar materials and services);
Interim report

Report submitted throughout the project according to the requirements set out in the funding agreement. It indicates the results of the activities carried out during a precise period. It also includes a report of work to be done and updated reports on revenue and expenses.


Pertaining to a geographic area that is smaller than a province or territory, with a population characterized by a common culture, economic activity, and heritage;

And by extension:

  • local artist, local artisan or local cultural carrier: an artist, artisan or cultural carrier born in, residing in, or having a significant connection to the geographic community identified by the applicant;
  • local historical event: an occurrence in the past that contributed to shaping the geographic community identified by the applicant;
  • local organization: a group or organization that, through either its mandate, objectives or activities, clearly engages the geographic community in which it operates. Local organizations must have an active board of at least 3 members, and at least 50% of members must reside in the geographic community of the festival;
  • local heritage: historical events or personalities directly linked to the history of the geographic community identified by the applicant;
  • local historical personality: a person who was born in, resided in, or had a significant connection to the geographic community identified by the applicant.
Location of activities
The location where the activities take place (performance hall, outdoor amphitheatre, park or field).
Official-language minority communities
Official-language minority communities are Francophone communities located outside of Quebec and Anglophone communities located in Quebec.
The members of a community taking part in activities such as festivals, events or projects. This participation can take various forms including donations of time, money, goods, or services.
Objects meant to commemorate events, people, places, or periods of time, that are produced in large numbers, either for sale or free as promotional material. Examples include pens, pins, snow globes, plates, or miniatures.
Unincorporated non-profit group
A group of at least three individuals who come together to conceive and carry out planned activities, operate on a cost recovery basis and do not in any manner distribute any income in excess of expenses to their members. Such a group is not a legal entity, nor is it necessarily permanent.
An individual working on behalf of an organization without receiving financial or material gain.

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