ArtsEngage 2022-2023: Call for Participants

About the Project: 

Thanks to funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, Ontario Presents is once again able to offer grants to presenters and artists from Rural and or Remote communities who wish to partner to craft a project that will engage their community with the performing arts. 

Participants will be awarded a grant of $6,000 and will have access to additional funds for accessibility purposes. To access this funding, participants will be required to: 

  • Participate fully in 6 professional development webinars 
  • Organize and execute an artist lead, community engaged project that must occur by March 31st 2023
  • Create a final report to be delivered by April 30th 2023.

These projects will look different in every community, but we are looking for proposals that: 

  • Engage a professional artist who primarily resides in your community.
  • Engage community participants as co-creators in a creative process led by the  professional artist.
  • Culminate in a public performance/event that includes the community participants.

All projects must take place between November 2022 and March 2023 and, if Covid protocols are still in place, follow all local health guidelines. 

Artists should be involved in crafting the projects from the earliest stages, and community members should play an active role in the project. Our goal is to support projects that create dialogue, build community, address societal issues and experiment with new collaborations between artists and community members. 

Since the project is intended to be developed with the artist and community, presenters do not need to have a full project proposal in mind at the time of application. Presenters should, however, apply with the local artists with whom they would like to work. 

Ontario Presents will work with the participants to evaluate and document these projects. This community initiative will be led by OP’s ArtsEngage Consultant, Jane Marsland and OP’s Communications Coordinator Deb Maitland. 

Available Funds: 

A limited number of $6,000 grants are available. 100% of these funds must go directly to artist fees. Participants will also have access to up to $1,200 for accessibility purposes. Presenters are expected to show contribution to the project (for example, logistical support, staff time, promotion) and will be expected to provide a final report. 

Learning Community: 

Participating presenters and artists will be expected to take part in a Learning Community on the topic of community engagement, which will provide opportunities to learn from specialists and fellow participants. This ArtsEngage Learning Community proved an invaluable resource and source of inspiration in the 2020 and 2021 cohorts, and we look forward to building another dynamic community.

The Creative Friend

During the first year of this program, UK-based guests from Creative People and Places, introduced us to  the concept of a ‘Critical Friend’:  “a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers appraisal of a person’s work as a friend”.  In other words, a ‘Critical Friend’ is someone with the ability to ask the right questions at the right time, and to listen to the answers properly. During the 2021 cohort, the title evolved to “Creative Friend”. These Creative Friends can be objective about the project as a whole, but will also care about its overall aims and about the presenters and artists own process and well-being.

Each project will have the opportunity to work with their ‘Creative Friend’ or mentor to explore particular challenges or ideas and have productive, detailed discussions.

Participants must attend 4 core sessions and 2 spotlight sessions on Wednesdays during the months of November and December 2022. Check-ins will occur once per month throughout the winter on the third Wednesday of the month. Meetings will take place virtually.

Core Sessions:

  • November 2nd, 2022 
  • November 9th, 2022 
  • November 23rd, 2022  
  • November 30th, 2022

Spotlight Sessions:

  • December 7th, 2022 
  • January 18th, 2023 


  • February 15th, 2023
  • March 15th, 2023
  • April 19th, 2023


Applications are open to any not-for-profit presenter (volunteer or professional) based in rural or remote communities in Ontario. Applicants do not need to be members of Ontario Presents, nor must they be venue-based. 

An organization will be considered a presenter if they have, within the last 5 years, presented a minimum of three distinct shows within a year, created, produced and performed by professional artists outside of the organization. 

Applications will be assessed by an independent selection committee of experienced arts administrators with strong understandings of community-based work. Applications will be assessed based on how closely the intent of the proposed project aligns with the desired outcome of connecting your community with the performing arts in a  participatory manner. Priority will be given to presenters and artists who identify as Indigenous, Black, or People of Colour, artists and presenters with disabilities, Deaf artists and presenters, and rural/remote communities. Geographic distribution across the province will also be considered. 


Interested applicants are invited to submit an application through our online form. For further inquiries, please email Deb at Applications are due by 5pm on Monday, September 19th, 2022. 

Ontario Presents is excited to work with presenters and artists to fund and nurture community engagement projects across the province. Share this call!

Click here to explore resources from the ArtsEngage Learning Community.

This program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

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