Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Canadian Arts Grant System Needs Simplification


The Canadian arts grant system from civic to federal level has become a complex bureaucracy that is increasingly unnavigable. Simply getting an answer is much more complicated than it was even several years ago. For instance, yesterday, after a twelve-day wait, I finally received a response from a grant officer who told me I was calling the wrong person and that I should be applying for another grant. Thank you for the clarification.

I am not a neophyte. I received my first grant (Ontario Arts Council, Visual Arts Critics) in 1986, but I now feel like I am trying to cross the Atlantic (to go to one of the conferences I have been invited to but could not attend because of late grant results) without a map each time that I apply. Moreover, grant result target dates have been pushed much farther ahead than they were even a year ago, making it nearly impossible to depend on arts funding to travel without very long-term notice.

A good solution is to maintain a much smaller granting system strictly as an awards model ( the Sobey, for example) and to initiate a universal basic income (UBI) for independent arts professionals. It will save bureaucracy and allow artists, writers, and other cultural workers to spend money as they - not a grant officer - see fit.

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