Ontario Arts Council offers $4M in one-time grants to Indigenous artists and organizations

The Ontario Arts Council recently announced a one-time grant support for Indigenous artists and art organizations, but CARFAC says the province needs to commit to a permanent funding program like the suspended Indigenous Culture Fund.

Province's artists need return of Indigenous Culture Fund or something similar, says CARFAC

Christina Bekintis is a visual artist and member of Garden River First Nation. (Submitted by Christina Bekintis )

Artist Christina Bekintis says the opportunity for new funding from the Ontario Arts Council could help her achieve her dream of having her own art space. 

"I love to be involved with the community and art has always been a way to connect and bring people together," she said.

The Ontario Arts Council recently announced a one-time grant support for Indigenous artists and art organizations, aimed at creating more opportunities and mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the arts community. 

"I'm able to connect with my culture and help people connect with my culture as well and keep it alive through the generations," Bekintis said, adding much of her inspiration comes from her Anishinaabe teachings. 

Bekintis is a member of Garden River First Nation and currently resides in Wawa, Ont.  If she gets her grant, she'll use the money to rent a studio. 

Christina Bekintis says she draws inspiration from Anishinaabe culture and teachings for her paintings. (Submitted by Christina Bekintis)

The funding is available to Indigenous artists across a number of disciplines including dance, literature, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts. Individual artists can receive as much as $3,000, literary editors $10,000 and professional artists can receive $15,000.

Jason Samilski, managing director of Canadian Artists' Representation/Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC) Ontario, said seeing the Ontario government's commitment of $4 million to the program was good, but it needs to be on a permanent basis, not a one-time deal.

"The arts sector is really in a terrible place right now," said Samilski.

"These kind of one-time public funds can be helpful, but it really needs to be there if the government is serious about a truth and reconciliation commitment." 

In 2018, the Ontario government cut millions in arts funding from the year's budget. This funding cut resulted in the suspension of the Indigenous Culture Fund, which had been established the year before. 

"Whether or not it's reinstating the Indigenous Culture Fund in its previous form or designing something new, we need to see a specific fund managed by Indigenous artists and cultural workers, and expand it specifically for Indigenous arts and cultural workers," he said.

Applications to the one-time fund are being accepted from organizations and collectives until Jan. 18 and from individuals until Jan. 27.


Rhiannon Johnson is an Anishinaabe journalist from Hiawatha First Nation based in Toronto. She has been with the Indigenous unit since 2017 focusing on Indigenous life and experiences throughout Ontario. You can reach her at and on Twitter @rhijhnsn.