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Cultivating Abundance for Emerging, Interdisciplinary BIPOC Artists

By Shaina Agbayani ( (@greenhousetheatre)

There is a fertile space of opportunity in the current arts funding ecosystem to support emerging and interdisciplinary Indigenous, Black, and Racialized artists. All the opportunities listed are streams of funding that can be accessed by artists and artist collectives in various disciplines of practice.

Mentorship and Professional Development Grants

Emerging Black, Indigenous, and Racialized artists can access streams of support to contribute to mentorship and professional development opportunities from artists and organizations working within your field of interest.  In the following streams of support, grants can, in addition to mentorship and professional development funds, cover costs for travel and subsistence (such as rent) during the course of the project.

For Ontario-based artists, there is the Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour which supports Ontario-based Indigenous, Black, and Racialized artists, ad hoc groups and collectives build professional development and skill-building opportunities to advance their work and careers. It funds all contemporary and traditional art practices supported at OAC. There is also the Professional Development for Artists (Explore and Create) with the Canada Arts council that supports Canadian artists and artistic groups by encouraging participation in a wide range of development opportunities. Both streams support mentorship opportunities including but not limited to study and training, mentorships, internships, apprenticeships, specialized training, workshops and documentation of artwork.

For Toronto-based Black artists, there is Black Arts Projects, a stream within which projects can include a mentorship component of up to $5,000 and in which grant recipients receive information about additional supports such as Arts Career Development workshops and Black Futures Studios Co-Creation Lab.

Project Specific Grants for BIPOC 

While all the Arts councils mentioned – TAC, OAC, and CAC – are governed by equity policies that invite them to engage with Indigenous, Black, and Racialized applicants in ways that consider how systems of inequity have impacted their access to resources, there are certain grant streams in each council specifically catered towards BIPOC. In addition to the Black Arts Projects grant with the TAC, there is also the Curatorial Projects : Indigenous and Culturally Diverse which funds the work of Ontario-based curators, artist-run centers and collectives to present projects by Indigenous, Black, and Racialized curators. There is also the Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples stream with the Canada Council for the Arts.

Best Practices for Emerging Artists

If you are just beginning your journey of applying for grants as an emerging artist, one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with other artists (both emerging and established) whose practices you admire and don’t be afraid to be curious about collaboration and mentorship. My history of successfully applying for multiple mentorship and project grants ranging from $8,000 to $50,000 over the past 3 years is most attributable to the relationships I have developed with people who have been willing to support me (paid and unpaid) through answering my questions, making suggestions for connections, or offering examples of successful grants. Moreover, build relationships with – schedule calls, prepare questions, ask for guidance – grant officer(s) for the program(s) you are applying for – they are literally paid to support artists to get grants!


This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of recommendations for emerging and interdisciplinary BIPOC artists interested in supporting themselves through grants from the local, provincial, and national arts councils. At Greenhouse Theatre, we are planning to facilitate workshops to offer for interdisciplinary and emerging Indigenous, Black and Racialized artists who are curious about practical strategies for grant-writing. Feel free to stay updated on our newsletter to hear of upcoming workshops.

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