Canadian Grants

Debs & Errol has applied for a number of grants and were successful on occasion. This was due to Errol’s sister, who loves to fill out government forms. We asked her to give us a list of grants and a few tips on filling them out.

The bottom line is grants are very difficult, if not impossible, to get. The below write-up is more my editorialized experience. My intent is not to spout facts but just to give you an overview of what I have gone through to give you a heads up about what you might experience.


  1. This is not a comprehensive list. I am writing this really quickly off the top of my head for expediency sake. I’ll try to update and add as life goes on and hopefully others can add too.
  2. There are specific details that I’m not including but are relevant to look at – deadlines, amount of grant and eligibility.
  3. This is very Ontario specific because I don’t have experience with other provincial programs.


Canada Council of Arts


  1. There is a large variety of grants that they offer musicians – to travel, to write, to produce an EP. There is even a grant just “to be,” ie. they’ll give you money to live so that you can spend full-time hours creating/writing/etc.
  2. In some categories, they do give some recognition to “emerging artists”. So, with some grants you may not be competing with established musicians.


  1. Application process very onerous.
  2. You don’t receive feedback.
  3. By in large, the grants are for professional musicians who have already made a name for themselves.

Personal Impressions

I think the intention of the grant is not really for the independent, starving artists playing for free food in a pub downtown. I’m imagining the grants are more for classically/traditionally trained musicians. I have applied to several grants for different songs, different reasons and even different artists. We’ve never been successful.

Ontario Council of Arts

Pretty much the same as Canada Council of Arts. Again, I have applied many times and have never successful.


  1. There is a “Popular Music” program which is meant for conventional pop/jazz/folk/etc music. Although I can’t verify, you are possibly not competing with classical music and may have a better chance?
  2. I found them quite helpful and accessible on the phone.

Toronto Arts Council

Again, same as Canada Council of Arts.

Con – There are much fewer options for grants. There is one for the individual artist to compose/create/produce and that’s about it.

Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association – Groundbreaker grant

For each performance/gig that you do, you can apply for this grant every month. The main requirement for the performance is that a cover charge was charged to the audience (even if you didn’t receive any money for the performance). There are various other requirements so read the rules carefully. You also have to become a member of the association (but membership is free).

We’ve received this grant a couple times already.


  1. By far, the easiest grant to get.
  2. Application is simple.
  3. You can apply multiple times each month.
  4. You can receive multiple grants.


  1. The grant is only $100.
  2. The recipient of the grant is picked by random draw.


FACTOR – The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recording

They have to review you as an applicant first and “rate” you. The rating is a bit of a mystery but, from what I can tell, it rates you on a scale between emerging vs established, ie. it looks at your record sales, your press coverage, your online presence, etc. If you are rated at 1, then there are a very limited number of grants you can apply for. However, if you are rated 1, then they will judge you according to that rating and not compared to artists who are at a higher rating, ie. the competition may not be as fierce.

I applied for the Demo grant many times. Their application process changed over the years so I didn’t receive feedback at first. The last time we were unsuccessful, but I asked for the feedback from the jurors. We changed our next application to suit their feedback and that’s when we were successful.

We wrote about our experiences here: FACTOR – How We Got Funded


  1. A variety of grants
  2. The intention of the Demo grant is for new/emerging/not-yet-successful artists
  3. You receive feedback!!
  4. You are assigned a person from FACTOR who can answer your questions about the grant application. They are generally accessible by phone/email.


  1. The initial process for the application is VERY confusing and onerous. However, once you enter in all the relevant information, future grant applications will be easier.



MuchMusic gives grants to create music videos and electronic press kits, etc. The application is moderately complicated but not as bad as others.

I’ve applied twice and was not successful. They don’t give feedback.


  1. The application process is online and not as complicated as other granting processes.
  2. Popular music seems favoured (my impression)
  3. Multiple deadlines so multiple chances. (Other agencies generally only have 1 or 2 deadlines per year).


  1. The issue with this one is that you need to know what you are doing technically. The application process is actually fairly easy but they request a technical and visual treatment which, if you’re a musician, you may not have any experience with.

The Canadian Society for Recording Arts

I’m not quite sure about this one so please be careful and tread with caution. They request $25 for admin fees which no other granting agency requires. I’ve applied twice and I’ve called to follow up if they had received my application, and I never heard back (and I don’t think they have actually ever cashed my $25 cheque).

As well, their website showcases their grant recipients but never seems to change or update even after two years. However, I did manage to get a hold of someone once and he said they were a non-profit so they don’t have a lot of funds for administration.

Other Grant Organizations

I have no experience with these ones but they are worth a shot.

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