I was lucky enough to receive news back in February that I had received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts! Receiving this grant is what initially allowed me to start working on “Atana and the Firebird” full time, and turn it into the job that I love today. It is a public grant open to any Canadian, so I thought I’d share my experience with the application!

Canada Council for the Arts Grant

Before applying, you need to register for an account on the Canada Council for the Arts portal. The process takes a few weeks in order to verify your identity, but is very straightforward. At the time of my application, I had just graduated from college, and thus registered myself as a New/Early Carers Artist – a category specifically created for people entering an industry.

The grant itself is open for a variety of artistic projects: comics, books, short film, gallery show, theater, dance… To apply, you need a project proposal, budget form, timeline, and any additional materials as needed. The process itself is very clear on the website, and all required forms are provided after you register for an account.

There is a variety of different grants you can find here: https://canadacouncil.ca/funding/grants Each category has different requirements, and also has different deadlines! For Atana, I applied under the Concept to Realization category, allowing me to create the project from scratch.

For my application, I submitted the following:
1. Budget form (as provided through the CCA portal)
2. Project form (as provided through the CCA portal)
3. Samples pages, character designs, character illustrations
4. Story outline

Waiting for the results for the grant was the longest part of the process for me personally because I had applied in May 2019 when the deadline for the category is Oct 2019. The grant website had stated that results would be announced by the end of Feb 2020, and they were right on time! I received the news through email on Feb 27th.

Some things I think are important to keep in mind in the application:

1. Be professional! Be clear in your words, communicate what is needed, and why your project deserves the grant! This also means compiling a clear and easy to read pitch package/visual guide as needed. If you’re doing a group project, this also means paying everyone fair wages. Double check your budget sheet, list all your predicted expenses, and where necessary, explain what they are for.

2. Do not undersell yourself! The Council for the Arts grants are judged by artists, and I love them for it. Because this means they know how much money it costs to make a project become reality. Realistically ask for what you need, don’t undercharge yourself! The downside of undercharging yourself is not only that you get less money, but also sometimes it’ll be harder to convince people that you’re really 100% serious about finishing the project – passion feeds the soul, not the stomach; people know you can’t work on your passion project with an empty wallet.

3. Demonstrate your ability to complete a project! In your resume/bio, make sure to demonstrate that you can meet deadlines, and have a good track record with completing projects. The grant is an investment towards a project, show that you can finish the project! In my bio I mentioned my previous work experiences, as well as my entire prior filmography and relevant awards.

Overall, although I applied thinking it was a shot in the dark, I’m beyond grateful to have received the funding! As a first time applicant, there was no guarantee that I would have received the grant, and I feel incredibly lucky to be selected. It’s completely normal to apply several times before getting a grant, so please don’t lose heart even if your application doesn’t yield the result you hoped for, try again and try again better! Best of luck!

Till next time,