Arts Nova Scotia is announcing two new programs to provide operating funding to professional arts organizations.  When funding for operating assistance was doubled in 2023, Arts Nova Scotia committed to reviewing the existing Operating Assistance to Arts Organizations fund to ensure it remained responsive to community needs and supported the long-term sustainability of the sector.  

The existing Operating Assistance to Arts Organizations program is replaced by two new programs, both of which recognize the unique ways that arts organizations and collectives work. Funds from the previous Artistic Innovation fund will be reallocated to prioritize funding organizations that are led by members of designated priority groups, as outlined in the new Equity Framework. The Equity Framework also informs the assessment criteria for both programs. 

Operate - Activate 

  • Designed for artist-driven organizations who may be emerging, working on a shorter-term, or with smaller administrative capacity. 
  • Requires less reporting with a simplified application process. 
  • Minimum annual revenues of $40K in one of the last three years. 
  • Funding provided for two years, up to $25K each year. Funding resets every two years. 
  • Access to one Arts Nova Scotia project grant, one professional development grant and one commissioning grant each year.  

Operate - Sustain 

  • Designed for organizations with proven history where strategic planning processes ensure the organization’s ability to navigate change, adapt to new circumstances and tolerate risk.  
  • Aligned with Canada Council for the Arts applications and reporting through Canadian Arts Database (CADAC). * 
  • Median annual revenue of $100K over the past four years. 
  • Funding provided for four years, up to $500K each year. Funding level evaluated every four years with fair notice given for cuts greater than 25%. 
  • Access to one Arts Nova Scotia project grant, one professional development grant and one commissioning grant every three years. 

The review of this program considered the learnings from the Building Back Better Report as well as the Arts Nova Scotia’s 2023-2025 Strategic Priorities. In addition, a public feedback survey and three targeted facilitated group discussions took place in fall 2023. There was consensus that the operating assistance program's structure did not allow for meaningful changes in funding levels for established organizations or the welcoming of new and emerging organizations. Organizations also felt that the process needed to be optimized by organization size and better aligned with other funders like the Council. A recap of all discussions can be found here

The opening of these new operating support programs at Arts Nova Scotia is an important moment in the evolution of arts funding in Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki. It’s the result of several years of research and consultations both in Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki and with colleagues across Turtle Island.  For the first time in many years, we have the potential to bring new organizations into the program(s) and begin addressing historic inequities in how cultural organizations are supported. It’s an important step in the ongoing project that is building a more robust and diverse arts ecosystem in the Province. – Ken Schwartz, Chair 

In addition to the new programs, Arts Nova Scotia is taking steps towards addressing priorities highlighted in community conversations: 

  • Increasing project funding maximums for Grants to Organizations and Groups in 2024.  
  • Creating a Climate Change and Sustainability survey for organizations to understand the current impacts of climate change in the Nova Scotia arts sector. Establishing a baseline to evaluate practices and create policy. 
  • Working with the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage to find ways to best support the professional arts community in collaboration and mentorship, and infrastructure support. 

The deadline to apply for both programs is March 15, 2024. Arts Nova Scotia staff will be hosting online information sessions later this month to go over program guidelines and applications in detail. All are encouraged to attend. If you have specific questions about your application please feel free to reach out to program officer Lauren Williams at  

Operate – Activate Information Session 
Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 1:00-2:30PM 
Online on Zoom 
Recording of session available here.

Operate – Sustain Information Session 
Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 1:00-2:30PM 
Online on Zoom 
Recording of session available here.

Questions? Please contact Briony Carros, Director, Arts Nova Scotia at

*For the March 15, 2024, deadline, only organizations who have already registered with CADAC will be required to use this tool. Moving forward, we will work with organizations to assist with the registration process and provide training.