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Navigating Arts Funding as Disabled Artists 

by The Disability Collective (Emily Maxwell, Nathan Sartore & Ali Hand) 

While many granting bodies in Canada pride themselves on providing funding for diverse artistic endeavours, Canada’s arts granting ecosystem is not accessible for everyone, especially for disabled artists. 

There are very few funding opportunities specifically dedicated to d/Deaf and disability arts, and this is something that Canada needs to prioritize. Disabled artists so often are underpaid for their work and must rely on social assistance, which does not provide anyone with enough to get by. Disabled artists need a tool that enables us to work smarter and not harder to ensure that our incredible, important, and diverse work and ideas get into the hands of the right people who can actually help us to make them happen. 

Cracking into and understanding Canada’s arts grant ecosystem is a feat in itself; however, once you do, how can you determine which grants are a good fit for your project? If you are a disabled individual running your own organization or trying to produce your own work and obtain funding, then you know that spoons are already incredibly limited. To receive the response that your application is ineligible after finally figuring out where to go to get funds and tirelessly working through an inaccessible application process is beyond disheartening and frankly unacceptable.

Alongside the challenge of navigating funding opportunities, once an artist has determined which grant is best suited for their project, integrating accessibility into program budgets can be overwhelmingly difficult due to most funding opportunities not taking accessibility expenses into account. Although ironic, accessibility can be financially inaccessible, and can make a large impact on an artist’s budget. This is especially true for smaller organizations and artist collectives who are typically working with smaller budgets to begin with, where accessibility can sometimes equal or even surpass the total artistic budget. When applying for funding, funders do not often account for these additional costs and may not provide funding dedicated to accessibility, which results in a lack of accessibility in the arts ecosystem. In order to increase accessibility in the arts, funders need to prioritize access and dedicate funding to this incredibly important and valuable work. 

Having a database, such as the artsUNITE Funding Database, that steers you in the right direction and ensures that you are expending your energy in the most productive way possible is absolutely integral for disabled artists to be able to secure funding in order to produce their accessible, inclusive, and vital work. 


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