Application Guidelines – Digital Access to Heritage
Museums Assistance Program
On this page
- Objectives and expected results for the Museums Assistance Program
- Objectives and expected results for the Digital Access to Heritage component
- Application deadline(s)
- Who can apply
- Eligible projects
- Eligible expenses
- Limits of government assistance
- Applying for more than 12 months
- How to apply
- Application process
- How applications are evaluated
- Evaluation criteria
- Application processing time
- Funding decisions
- How funding is provided
- Funding conditions
- Workplace well-being
- Official languages requirements
- Acknowledgement of financial assistance
- Access to information requests
- Disclosure of information
- Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program
- Contact us
Objectives and expected results for the Museums Assistance Program
The Museums Assistance Program (MAP) supports heritage institutions and workers in the preservation and presentation of heritage collections in Canada. The Program provides financial assistance to Canadian museums and related institutions for activities that:
- facilitate Canadians’ access to our heritage;
- foster the preservation of Canada’s diverse and rich cultural heritage (other than built heritage), including representative collections of Indigenous cultural heritage; and
- foster professional knowledge, skills and practices related to key museum functions.
Expected results could include activities that achieve the:
- development and circulation of Canadian travelling exhibitions and associated interpretive material;
- preservation and presentation of Indigenous cultural heritage;
- implementation of key collections management systems; and
- sharing of best practices related to key museum functions, to the benefit of multiple institutions.
Objectives and expected results for the Digital Access to Heritage component
The aim of the Digital Access to Heritage component of the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) is to foster improved access to heritage collections through collections digitization and digital content development, as well as activities that build capacity in these areas. The component also supports the development and delivery of related training, resources and services that benefit multiple museums.
If your project starts between August 15, 2021 and June 30, 2022, the deadline for your application is November 1, 2021.
If your project starts between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2024, the deadline for your application is March 1, 2022.
If your project starts between April 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022, you can apply once to either the November 1, 2021 or March 1, 2022 intake.
When an application deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or statutory holiday, it is extended to the following working day.
Who can apply
To be eligible for funding, your organization must be:
- An Indigenous governing body or an Indigenous organization with a mandate to preserve and support Indigenous heritage.
- An incorporated non-profit Canadian museum* which:
- Provides services to the public year-round;
- Employs the equivalent of one full-time paid professional staff;
- Has policies for key museum functions; and
- Has a current three to five-year strategic/business plan.
- An incorporated, non-profit Canadian museum* that does not have a permanent physical space which:
- Provides services and/or programming to the public year-round, in person and/or online;
- Has been in continuous operation for at least two years;
- Employs the equivalent of one full-time paid professional staff;
- Has policies for relevant museum functions; and
- Has a current three to five-year strategic/business plan.
- A museums association or an incorporated non-profit Canadian service organization whose membership relates to the museum sector which:
- Provides services to the public year-round;
- Employs the equivalent of one full-time paid professional staff; and
- Has a current three to five-year strategic/business plan.
*Eligible museums that are governed by provincial/municipal government or by academic or cultural institutions can apply to MAP, as long as their principal mandate is linked to heritage. They must also have distinct objectives, programs and budgets related to heritage. Federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies are not eligible for MAP funding.
Under exceptional circumstances, such as for projects targeting underserved communities and populations (e.g. Indigenous, ethnocultural and/or racialized communities, official language minority communities, LGBTQ2+ communities, youth), flexibilities regarding the required criteria for eligible applicants may be considered. However, the requirement to be an incorporated, non-profit Canadian museum remains. Please contact your MAP regional office for more information.
We are responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project, and project-related expenses.
The Digital Access to Heritage component is highly competitive. Requests for funding may exceed our available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.
The following are eligible for funding from the Component:
- Projects to build capacity to support digitization of and digital access to heritage collections, including the development of a digitization strategy and training.
- Projects to digitize collections, which must be guided by a digitization strategy and must include making the majority of digitized heritage collections accessible to the general public, through various means such as a websites, social media posts, virtual exhibitions, interactive media and collection portals.**
- Projects to develop digital content, based on digitized heritage collections, which is delivered online and/or in person and published using a variety of digital programs, platforms and channels.
- Projects to share best practices, develop and deliver training, resources and services, which must involve more than one organization and/or be developed by one organization to benefit multiple organizations.
All products being presented to the public must be developed in both official languages.
** In addition, you are highly encouraged to upload your digital assets to the Canadian Information Heritage Network (CHIN) Artefacts Canada, a national inventory of museum collections, which provides access to several million records and images from Canadian museums.
All projects must be completed by March 31, 2024.
The following are examples of eligible projects under the Digital Access to Heritage component:
- developing and/or providing professional development activities, tools and strategies for organizations and staff to strengthen their knowledge, skills and practices with respect to digitization of collections, digital content creation and digital engagement
- outsourcing digitization to a third-party, purchasing or rental of specialized equipment or software to digitize materials and create digital content, which must be guided by a digitization strategy and must include making the majority of digitized artefacts accessible to the general public
- developing products such as interactive media, collection portals, apps, games, immersive environments, and other digitally enabled experiences.
- sharing of best practices, for example, the creation of professional development activities and/or tools to assist museum workers and to strengthen their knowledge, skills and practices with respect to digitization of collections, digital content creation and digital engagement.
- developing virtual exhibitions and content related to heritage collections.
- developing virtual exhibitions and content related to contemporary art, which must be retrospective or present an historical perspective.
Only project-related expenses, which can be of cash and in-kind value, are eligible; these may include:
- pro-rated salaries and wages directly related to the project;
- travel for the personnel working on the project, which must which must not exceed the rates permitted for travel on government business;
- consultants and/or elders, including fees and travel, which must comply with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Travel Directive;
- equipment rental, incremental administration costs, shipping fees, promotion and communication expenses provided that they are linked to the project;
- evaluation of project results;
- translation of material aimed at the public in both official languages and in another language meant to reach specific groups if applicable, including Indigenous languages;
- minor capital asset costs such as computers, scanners, digital cameras and memory, up to a value of $50,000 per project. No more than 25% of the project funding provided by the MAP can be used for the acquisition of minor capital assets;
- materials and supplies for the development and production of tools and documents for museum professionals; and
- project audit fees (if applicable).
Ineligible expenses include:
- costs related to a project that is supported by Digital Museums Canada
- digitization of collections for documentation and preservation purposes only
- costs related to online exhibitions and content related to contemporary which are not retrospective or do not present an historical perspective.
- development costs for project proposals or applications under the MAP or other federal programs
- costs related to participants’ attendance (including travel) to professional development activities
- ongoing operations and day-to-day digital collections management activities
- hospitality; and
- salaries from federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies.
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 August 15, 2021.
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 financial assistance received from the Program and other levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100 % of your total project-related costs.
We can fund up to 70% of eligible expenses or $100,000 per fiscal year in the case of grants, and 70% of eligible expenses or $300,000 per fiscal year in the case of contributions.
In exceptional circumstances, we can fund up to 85% of eligible expenses. The specific funding criteria related to exceptional circumstances include:
- projects benefiting remote or rural areas; and
- projects targeting underserved communities and populations (e.g. Indigenous, ethnocultural and/or racialized communities, official language minority communities, LGBTQ2+ communities, youth), where need is clearly demonstrated and justified.
Applying for more than 12 months
You may request funding for a project spanning more than 12 months. You must then show that there is a need for a multi-year commitment and that you have the capacity to complete the project. This is demonstrated with a realistic project timeline and budget projections as well as sound governance.
How to apply
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.
To obtain application forms, please contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
A complete application package includes the Application Form and the following supporting documents:
- the Project Budget Form;
- your supporting documents:
- copies of most recent documents as requested in the application checklist, including copies of all available quotes, to justify any procurement costs, and
- your most recent financial statements (audited if available).
Where an applicant submits more than one project to multiple components of the Museums Assistance Program to take place during the same fiscal year, an order of priority must be clearly indicated.
- Complete, sign and date the Application Form;
- Attach all the required supporting documents; and
- Submit your application by email.
We encourage you to submit your application package electronically to the following email address: email@example.com
The email must be sent no later than 11:59 p.m. local time on the date of the application deadline for your application to be considered.
How applications are evaluated
We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Your application will be evaluated based on the evaluation criteria below by a review committee who will compare it with other applications and prioritize it in relation to the funds available.
When prioritizing eligible applications, we will take into consideration the following and funding priority may be given to:
- Projects that promote partnerships and collaboration between organizations, for example sharing of digital expertise and equipment across local, regional, or national networks
- Projects that target diverse communities (e.g. Indigenous, ethnocultural and/or racialized communities, official language minority communities, LGBTQ2+ communities, youth)
- Capacity building projects for small and medium-sized museums (with annual revenues under $1M)
- Projects that use digital technology in innovative ways to improve access to heritage collections
- Projects that start between August 15, 2021 and March 31, 2022 (applies to the November 1, 2021 deadline only)
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.
Relevance and community engagement
- your project helps achieve the organization’s mandate;
- your project responds to a demonstrated need;
- support/interest from other funders or partners is shown (documented if possible); and
- the target audience for your project and the methods to reach it (if applicable) are clearly identified and realistic.
Project planning and management
- your organization is able to carry out the project and has engaged appropriate experience and expertise (personnel and consultants);
- the timeline and resources are adequate; and
- sound project management methods are demonstrated, including risk management.
- the forecasted budget/cash flow is comprehensive;
- value for money is demonstrated, expenses are justified and reasonable; and
- all contributions are clearly identified and realistic (applicant, partners and other sources).
Impact and evaluation strategy
- outputs and outcomes are identified, clear and reasonable; and
- your application includes an articulated evaluation strategy that is linked to outcomes and outputs (indicators, data collection, etc.).
- financial stability is demonstrated; and
- your organization is professionally managed with clearly defined governance structure, administration and policies.
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 receiving your application in our office.
We reserve the right to target our funding to specific projects. 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.
A 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.
A contribution is a conditional payment issued for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. The agreement is signed by your organization and by us and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.
You may be required to submit interim reports during your project. If you receive $250,000 or more as a contribution, you are required to submit an audited financial report.
All products being presented to the public must be developed in both official languages. Applicants are also encouraged to develop content in other languages relevant to the project, including Indigenous languages.
Additional conditions may apply and, if applicable, will be included in your funding agreement.
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
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.
For further information, please contact us:
Department of Canadian Heritage
Museums Assistance Program
15 Eddy Street
- 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 5:30 p.m. (ET).
- Audited financial report
- An audited financial report includes a statement of operations for the given period with regard to the Project and is prepared by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization.
- 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 accounting principles.
- Business plan
- A written document that describes your organization’s current status and plans for two to five years. It identifies future opportunities and includes the financial, operational and marketing strategies to achieve your goals.
- 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.
- Digital Content Development
- A process that creates, organizes, and edits digitized assets and other information together to produce and distribute digital content that will entertain, inspire, educate, and persuade audiences and that will help an institution meet its specific goals. Digital content is often delivered online and can be published using a variety digital programs, platforms, and channels, either as a single occurrence or simultaneously. Digital content opportunities are limited only by available technology and can include social media posts, virtual exhibitions, interactive media, collection portals, apps, games, immersive environments, and other digitally enabled experiences.
- The act of making a copy of or converting analogue information into a digital format. For example, digitization can occur by scanning 2D images or documents, or converting audio tape oral history recordings into digital formats. It can also refer to digitally photographing or 3D scanning objects, buildings, and natural features, or capturing a performance on video. Digitized outputs are often referred to as “digital assets”.
- Digitization Strategy
- A considered plan to guide the digitization of an institution’s analogue collections and assets, as well as the potential use and preservation of the digital assets once created. Its scope can be broad, encompassing an institution’s entire asset base, or it can be concentrated, focusing on one particular department, collection or aspect of a collection. The strategy outlines the goals for digitization and provides direction on what collections and assets should be prioritized for conversion, as well as what digital format(s) they should take. Digitization priorities are typically influenced by public interest, uniqueness/opportunity, object condition, and institutional need (e.g. for exhibitions, programs, online content, etc.), as well as other considerations for rights and permissions, and financial and technical feasibility. Some strategies may also include a detailed action plan for how the organization will execute this work, including any resources (i.e. people, equipment, budget, timelines, policies, etc.), operational changes or investments necessary.
- 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.
- Evaluation strategy
- Selection, development, and ongoing use of performance measures to make judgments about relevance, progress, cost-effectiveness and success of a project in meeting its defined objectives. A strategy should include outputs, outcomes, definitions of what will be measured, data sources, methodologies for gathering data and other relevant information. Please refer to Reporting requirements and Evaluation criteria section.
- 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.
- Final financial report
- A final financial report includes, as separate items, the budget as well as all of the revenues realized and expenditures incurred for the given period with regard to the Project being funded.
- 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.
- Incremental administration costs
- Costs which organizations would not incur other than to comply with project administrative requirements. These costs may include expenses for material or other items associated with the provision of goods or services. Maximum 15% of the total project cost (e.g. book keeping, project accounting, long distance calls, ink cartridges, temporary subscriptions to publications or specialized services).
- Indigenous communities
- Indigenous communities are First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
- Indigenous governing bodies
- First Nations governments, Band Councils or Tribal Councils, Inuit and Métis equivalent governing organizations.
- Interim reports
- Interim reports are submitted during your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. These reports indicate the results of the activities undertaken for a specific period. In addition, they include a status report on the work to be accomplished and updated revenue and expense reports.
- Key museum functions
- Standard established practices in main areas of collections-related activities within a museum or heritage organization, such as acquisition, conservation, research, collections information management, exhibitions and education.
- Minor capital assets
- Material goods with a depreciable value amortized over a period of time but not built into the fabric or shell of a building. Minor capital assets must relate directly to the proposed project (including specialized equipment, such as cameras, scanners, livestreaming equipment)
- Non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. Please refer to International Council of Museum – Definition of a Museum.
- Official Language Minority Communities
- The official language minority communities are the Anglophone communities residing in Quebec and the Francophone communities residing outside of Quebec.
- Operational expenses
- Cash expenses paid by an organization, in return for goods or services that are not incremental to the project. These expenses are ineligible for funding.
- Result of an effort to attain a goal. They are the external effects or consequences of the project that are considered significant in relation to its initial commitments. Outcomes must be measurable and may occur within organizations, communities and individuals. They may relate to behaviour, skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, conditions or other attributes. While there is less degree of control over outcomes, there should be a direct relationship between outputs and outcomes.
- Most immediate results of a project. Outputs are the direct products or services produced and delivered to a target group or population, such as an exhibition, a collections or exhibitions policy, a workshop or seminar.
- Performance indicator
Data that can be used to determine whether a project has achieved its intended qualitative and quantitative results and, if so, to what degree.
Performance indicators should capture the most significant information. They must be reliable and cost-effective. To select the appropriate performance indicators, these questions should be asked:
- Is it accurate? Will it measure the expected result?
- Is it a cost-effective means of collecting data?
- Can the information be obtained without infringing on privacy issues?
- Does the information assist the project manager in understanding what will be the impact of the project on targeted heritage organizations?
- Does it capture useful information that will assist the organization in making management decisions?
- Will the information be communicated easily to interested parties, including funding organizations?
- Will the information allow for a meaningful comparison between data prior to and after project completion?
a) Quantitative performance indicators
Data that can be used for evaluating progress made during a project. Quantitative performance indicators are expressed as statistical measurements such as numbers, percentages or ratios. For example:
- the number of visitors at an exhibition or visitors accessing digital content;
- the number of venues where a travelling exhibition was presented;
- the number of collections and objects preserved and/or digitized and made available online; and
- the number of participants at an activity, or users of tools.
If the project targets a specific audience, such as Indigenous, youth, rural/remote, official language minority or culturally diverse communities, identify the number of participants from the targeted community and/or the percentage of participants from the targeted community compared to the total number of participants. Other quantitative performance indicators include:
- the number and type of professional development activities (workshops, seminars, courses, etc.);
- the number of downloads;
- the number of online training activities developed (webinars, kits, etc.);
- the number of best practices tools or documents about key museum functions implemented; and
- the number of organizations benefiting from a sharing of best practices project.
b) Qualitative performance indicators
Information that can be used to evaluate progress made during a project. Qualitative indicators are expressed as opinions, behaviours or attitudes. Whenever possible, these performance indicators are generalized by the use of a rating scale; for example, research quality is rated as excellent, average or below average. Other qualitative performance indicators include:
- the level of satisfaction;
- opinions of participants indicating that they have learned a great deal on a given subject;
- comments by participants indicating that tools or documents developed could or will be implemented in their workplace;
- observations from the participants on how the activity has led to positive change in their workplace/professional development; and
- opinions of participants regarding the usefulness and/or relevance of the activity/tool.
- Performance measures
- Performance indicators that provide qualitative and/or quantitative information needed to measure the extent to which a project is achieving its intended outcomes. Qualitative data can be expressed in terms of change or comparison between two states, while quantitative indicators can be in the form of a ratio, percentage, comparison or figure.
- Set of activities or functions that a recipient proposes to undertake with the financial assistance provided by a department. A project has a clear start and end date, occurs within a reasonable period of time and demonstrates measurable outputs and outcomes.
- Racialized communities
- Communities of shared heritage who have been historically disadvantaged as a group and may experience discrimination based on colour, culture and/or race.
- Retrospective exhibition
- A body of representative works, by an artist or a group of artists that spans a period of time and is presented and interpreted in the context of a historical perspective of the development and/or influences of that body of work. A minimum of 75% of the artefacts or visual art works should be drawn from public/private collections (other than the artist's collection), and a minimum of 90% of artefacts or visual art works must have been created more than 10 years prior to the date of application.
- Services to the public year-round
- Facilities and services are available to the public 12 months a year or upon request. Schedules and contact number for reservation are all up front and clearly displayed (website, building, brochure and advertising).
- Strategic plan
- Clearly written document that describes an organization's mandate, its short, mid and long-term goals or objectives, and priority actions to take. A strategic plan includes a timeframe for its execution, and identifies who within the organization, or what outside agent, will take responsibility for the completeness of the actions necessary to realize goals and objectives.
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