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This program provides administrative support to artist-driven organizations and collectives who may be working in a shorter-term capacity. This program is also suitable for newer organizations and organizations who have smaller administrative capacity or are building their administrative capacity. The program supports the natural ebb and flow of creation, presentation and research and can provide some financial stability to foster artistic growth and development. It offers a more streamlined application and financial reporting to ease the administrative burden for organizations with part-time or seasonal staff.  

The purpose of this program is to: 

  • Foster the vitality and long-term health of arts and cultural life in Nova Scotia 
  • Support organizations that produce or present artistic performances and events 
  • Enhance stability for arts organizations 
  • Provide support for ongoing core creation, production, presentation and administrative costs 
  • Ensure artist collectives and organizations have equitable and ongoing access to operational funding 
  • Nurture alternative models of governance and administration in the arts 

Support is provided on a two-year basis and is subject to annual provincial budget availability.  

Funding will reset to zero after the end of a funding cycle. Priority will be given to equity-deserving organizations and collectives as outlined in our Equity Framework

Strategic Priorities

In the Arts Nova Scotia 2022-23 annual report, the Board of Directors identified our 2023-2025 Strategic Priorities that inform our work to improve and/or change programs. 

As part of the strategic priority of anti-oppression, we have developed an Equity Framework that acknowledges the power imbalances embedded in our systems and aims to mitigate the effects of this oppression.  Included in the Equity Framework are designated priority groups that are the focus of our strategic measures through dedicated programs, funding prioritization processes and outreach to better address historical inequities.  The designated priority groups consist of applicants who are:

  • Indigenous (Mi’kmaq, First Nations, Métis, or Inuit);
  • African Nova Scotian, Black, or people of colour;
  • Deaf or experience disability; or
  • Located in regional areas (outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality)

Organizations whose statement of purpose includes support for and who are led by arts and cultural practitioners rooted in communities as listed above are considered a designated priority group.  

What makes an organization or collective eligible?

Eligible organizations or collectives must: 

  • Be registered not-for-profit societies or not-for-profit cooperatives in good standing with the Nova Scotia Provincial Registry of Joint Stock Companies, or federally registered under the Corporations Act as a not-for-profit society or cooperative based and operating in Nova Scotia. If not registered under the Corporations Act, the group must meet the following definition of a collective: 
    • A collective is an unincorporated group working on a not-for-profit basis comprised of two or more professional artists, who work together under a group name on an ongoing basis. At least 50 percent of the collective’s members must live in Nova Scotia (or both members in the case of a two-person collective). One member of the collective is responsible for accepting the funding under their name and SIN. 
  • Have a centre of operations in Nova Scotia. 
  • Have been active for at least two years. 
  • Have a mandate or shared purpose to create, produce and/or present work by professional artists. 
  • Engage the advice and expertise of art professionals in programming and administration. 
  • Pay professional fees to artists according to industry standards. 
  • Have the capacity to complete and track required financial information (income statement, balance sheet, budget forecast and actuals)  
  • Have received at least two project grants from Arts Nova Scotia or other public arts funders in the last five years. 
  • Have a minimum annual revenue of $40,000 in one of the past three years. 
  • Comply with all Arts Nova Scotia policies.

Ineligible organizations or collectives include: 

  • Private or for-profit entities 
  • Organizations who receive operating assistance from the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage 
  • Organizations whose primary mandate is education and/or training 
  • Organizations that submit incomplete applications 
  • Organizations that receive Operate – Sustain funding 

What are the funding levels?

The maximum grant is $25K annually. Funding is determined by the organization or collective’s size, scope, and performance in assessment.  

Organizations or collectives who receive Operate – Activate funding will also have access to one Arts Nova Scotia project grant, one professional development or development grant, and one commissioning grant per fiscal year (April 1 – March 31). These same limits apply to organizations that receive $25K or less in funding from The Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage’s Operating Assistance to Cultural Organizations program. 

How often is funding awarded?

Application intake happens every two years.  An interim report is required between year one and two. 

Organizations or collectives compete for their funding at each assessment, as funding resets to zero at the end of the grant period. 

What should our application include?

Please refer to the Application Checklist for detailed information on what to include.  

How will our application be assessed?

We use Peer Assessment Committees (PACs) to make funding decisions. PACs in this program are made up of three assessors who are professional arts workers with experience working in organizations. Program officers work to ensure diversity of region, gender, age, race, and culture when inviting assessors. You can sign up to be an assessor here. 

The program officer is available to help facilitate the decision-making process but does not participate in the scoring or ranking of applications. They apply our policies and procedures to ensure fairness, and to avoid conflict of interest throughout the process. 

Contents of the applications and proceedings of the meetings are strictly confidential. We publish the names of all peer assessors in the previous year in our annual report. However, we do not provide a breakdown of individual committee makeup. 

For Operate – Activate, the program officer presents the recommendations of the PAC to the Arts NS Board of Directors for final approval.  

Using an Assessment Tool, assessors will consider the following: 

Artistic Impact (50%) 
The assessment committee evaluates the impact of professional artistic activity. The committee will consider: 

  • How programming furthers the artistic vision of the organization/collective. 
  • How artistic risks or choices taken to explore new directions reflect the organization/collective’s mandate and the art form. 
  • How programming choices are relevant and appropriate for the organization/collective and its role in the discipline and the arts ecosystem.  
  • What is the organization/collective’s commitment to the develop, support and present work by Nova Scotian artists? 
  • The effectiveness of practices that eliminate cultural appropriation and support meaningful representation, using appropriate protocols and practices.  

Relevance and Community Impact (30%) 
The assessment committee evaluates the quality of the organization’s level of engagement with its identified communities and the context they are working within. The committee will consider: 

  • The relevance of the organization/collective to the communities it serves, as demonstrated through programming, audience development, outreach or curatorial choices. 
  • How the organization/collective provides opportunities for the public to engage and interact with artists and art and serves their identified communities. 
  • How the organization/collective develops and maintains meaningful relationships through mentorships, collaborations, or partnerships as appropriate.  
  • The level of accessibility and engagement, including but not limited to physical spaces, cultural safety, affordability, and support for diverse participants or those who experience barriers or disability. 

Organizational Effectiveness (20%) 
The assessment committee evaluates the ability to effectively manage the responsible operation of the organization and its programs. The committee will consider: 

  • Governance practices and policies including structure, policy and planning. 
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities of staff, board, and volunteers as applicable.  
  • Providing fair remuneration, professional development, equitable employment, cultural competency, cultural safety, and a safe and respectful workplace. 
  • Financial reports and plans that are clear, feasible and accurate.  
  • Operational effectiveness including, but not limited to, work planning, communication and marketing.

When will our funding be confirmed?

Funding decisions are made following confirmation of Arts Nova Scotia budget. All efforts will be made to confirm funding with organizations within 8-12 weeks after the deadline.  

What if a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday?

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

How do I submit my application?

Send your application to according to the instructions below. You can watch our YouTube tutorial Submitting Your Application Over Email for more detailed instructions.

Before Sending Your Email

  • Include your name on all files
  • Number your files in the order they should be opened (application forms have a list of required documents in order)
  • Ensure your page limits and file sizes are in line with the program guidelines
  • Upload large audio and video files to a streaming service such as YouTube, Vimeo or SoundCloud

When Submitting

  • Address your email to
  • Submit by 11:59 pm the day of the deadline
  • Send one application per email 
  • Subject line should be: “Organization Name – Program Name”
  • Keep attachments under 25MB
  • Do not attach large audio or video files; include a streaming link in the body of the email
  • Do not send cloud-based attachments (WeTransfer, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)
  • Do not duplicate your application; do not send an additional hard copy

Only submissions will be accepted to this email address. Please direct all questions to the program officer. 

If you are unable to submit by email please contact the program officer.

All applications sent to ArtsNS Submissions should receive an auto-reply confirmation. If you do not receive confirmation within one week, please contact a program officer. You must contact the program officer within two weeks of the deadline for us to consider your application. Applications will only be considered if there is proof of email being sent by the deadline.