As the provincial funding agency that provides support to professional artists, arts organizations, arts education programs, and several important arts awards and prizes, Arts Nova Scotia offers a wide variety of investment opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a professional artist?

A professional artist is an artist who has received compensation from artistic activity that may reasonably be considered to be income and who meets a number of additional criteria described in the Nova Scotia Status of the Artist Legislation.

These criteria include public or peer recognition, training or acquired knowledge, and the public presentation of work.

Unsure if you fit the above definition? Take our "Am I a professional artist?" quiz.

How do I apply for a Grant?

You can access our grant applications and guidelines in the Programs section of our website.

What tips can you give for applying?

We recommend you follow our guide on how to apply for Arts Nova Scotia Grants throughout the application process.

Also see our resources for artists page for more tips.

We also encourage you to reach out to the program officer with any questions you have.

What happens after I’ve submitted my application?

All funding decisions are made by a peer selection committee. The committee members are selected from a list of qualified artists or arts organizations provided through community consultation. These lists are reviewed annually to ensure broad community representation. Committee composition is sensitive to regional, gender and cultural differences. A different committee is appointed for each competition.

See The Life Cycle of an Arts Nova Scotia Grant Application

What are the criteria used in the decision process?

Each of our grant programs has specific criteria used to assess applications. Some of those criteria include:

  • the quality of the work as evidenced by support material (where applicable).
  • the artistic merit of the project.
  • the ability of the applicant to carry out the project.

Applications are ranked based on merit as reflected by the applications and the funds are allocated based on the ranking.

How often can we apply?

You can make one application per category per deadline.

When will we know if we are successful or not?

You will receive an email notifying you of the results twelve to fourteen weeks after the deadline regardless of the outcome.

You will be able to request notes from the peer assessment committee meeting at this time and if you did not receive funding, you may resubmit your project to the next deadline.

Do you award partial funding?

No. We encourage applicants to ask for what they need. In rare cases, if there are budget concerns or ineligible expenses, peer assessors may recommend funding at a reduced amount.

What is a project?

When we talk about "projects", we mean the specific part or phase of the work that the funding is supporting. You may be able to apply for distinct parts of the same work over time. For example, you could apply to workshop a play in one deadline and apply in the next deadline to present the play publicly. Knowing exactly what you want the money for will help you write a stronger application.

What if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday?

If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is moved to the next business day.

What are letters of support / intent?

Letters of support demonstrate peer recognition.

Letters of support come from established artists in your artistic discipline who are well aware of your practice and can recommend you wholeheartedly. They are more necessary for someone who may be at a pre-emerging stage in their career. The more personal and caring these letters are the more strength they lend to an application. This is also true for letters from potential mentors.

Letters of intent / invitation / confirmation demonstrate feasibility.

Letters of intent / invitation / confirmation come from other artists, professionals, or organizations who are directly involved in a project. They are necessary to confirm that mentors, participants, venues, resources, etc. are in place.

What are Professional/Artist Fees?

Projects supported by Arts Nova Scotia are expected to pay professional/artist fees according to sector standards. For more information on these standards, please refer to the following organizations:


Canadian Alliance for Dance Artists

Film and Media Arts

Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA)

Literary Arts

The Writer's Union of Canada

Professional Writers Association of Canada


Canadian League of Composers

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN)

Musicians' Rights Organization of Canada


Playwrights Guild of Canada

Associated Designers of Canada

Visual Arts

Canadian Artists Representation/Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)

What types of activities or expenses are ineligible?

In addition to criteria set out in individual program guidelines, the following activities and expenses are not eligible for grants from Arts Nova Scotia: 

  • artistic activities that are led by non-professionals (see Am I a Professional Artist?
  • activities that are carried out to satisfy the course requirements of an educational institution 
  • activities that directly support the delivery of an educational program or course 
  • activities led by schools or post secondary educational institutions

  • commercial production work in any discipline, activity whose intention is not primarily art, but the production of products to sell, including music recording  
  • self-publishing or author-subsidized publishing of literary works  
  • activities carried out by organizations that have not paid, or do not pay, fees or royalties to artists according to the standards of the arts practice or sector 
  • fundraising activities 
  • capital expenditures, unless explicitly eligible 
  • contests and competitions (including prizes and awards) 
  • contributions to endowment funds 

Have questions? Contact a program officer. 

Past Recipients

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