A group of people holding a panel discussion on stage.
Cultural Equity Grant recipient, re:Naissance Opera, holding a panel discussion at their musical festival, IndieFest

City invests $2.25 million in elevating and celebrating the cultural diversity of Vancouver

November 16 2021 –

City Council approved over $2.25 million in grants for 106 non-profit cultural organizations today. Seven local artists will also receive live-work or work-only studios below-market rents to support their work.

This investment will make space for arts and culture in Vancouver, support equity-seeking artists, and increase industry stability throughout and beyond the pandemic.

Artists and cultural creators from equity-seeking communities, including Indigenous, Black, people of colour, and people with disabilities, face many barriers to full participation in the cultural sector.

Our 10 year Culture|Shift strategy (12.2 MB) recognizes that these barriers have historically resulted in underrepresentation in the creation of arts and culture works and experiences in the city, including those supported by our grants.

Grant highlights

This investment is funded through a number of new and existing programs that advance our cultural goals. The complete report is available online. 

  • Cultural Equity Grants

Launched in 2020 to achieve greater equity, this program lowers barriers to access core operating support for equity-denied artists and groups. Through the Cultural Equity Grants, we endeavor to create a positive process of information exchange and support through an invitation-based, non-competitive process that builds connection and honours the deep knowledge held within the organization. 

Recipients of Cultural Equity Grants include:

  • Afro Van Connect received $45,000 in Equity and Capacity building grants to support their work empowering people of African Descent through conversation, collaboration, creation, and performance. Afro Van Connect creates Black spaces and gatherings of vibrant, creative minds committed to developing authentic solutions, and to increase the visibility of unserved communities.
  • Open Access Foundation for Arts and Culture (OAFAC) received $25,000 to advance their work setting a new cultural standard for accessibility by nurturing creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices in the cultural sector. OAFAC advances disability culture and artistry within a contemporary art context through disability-lead trainings, curation, public engagements, exhibitions, performances, educational campaigns, and site-specific project development with artists, curators, and cultural workers.
  • Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective Society received $20,000 to continue their work revitalizing the historic ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ (Punjabi Market) by beautifying the market, developing and promoting businesses, and creating a hub for arts and culture.
  • The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) , which celebrated its 25th anniversary this month, received $25,000. VAFF promotes and celebrates the diversity and depth of Asian culture and identity in film and media. VAFF helps North American Asian actors and filmmakers define and express themselves on screen. The 11-day festival highlights an array of unique and outstanding talent, with Asian Canadian and Asian American writers, producers, and directors showcasing their latest work. 
  • Vancouver Music Fund

$300,000 is granted to Creative BC  to renew the Vancouver Music Fund. Established in 2019 to implement the Vancouver Music Strategy, the Vancouver Music Fund provides direct support to Indigenous and underrepresented musicians, artists, and groups working in Vancouver’s music sector.

  • Artist Studio Awards Program

Seven Vancouver-based artists who are Indigenous or racialized have been awarded live-work, or work-only, studios at below-market rates for terms of approximately three years. The artists were selected based on eligibility, cultural practice, peer recognition, and impact.

Learn more about the Artist Studio Awards Program and the selected artists

Cultural vitality is critical to our identity, livability, economic prosperity, social cohesion, and sense of environmental responsibility. We invest close to $16 million in grants to local arts and culture non-profit organizations each year to support operations, major and small capital projects, and capital planning.

Local non-profits funded through Cultural Equity Grants


Branislav Henselmann, Managing Director of Cultural Services 

“As part of our dedicated efforts to deliver on Culture|Shift, our community informed culture plan, we are actively applying an intersectional, decolonial, racial justice, and systemic equity lens to our grant programs. Looking at equity as both an outcome and a process is a key part of the City’s new Equity Framework.”

“These Council-approved investments reflect our continuous commitment to uplift the contributions of a broader range of artists who make Vancouver a world renowned cultural hub.”

Debi Wong, Founding Artistic Director of re:Naissance Opera and Cultural Equity Grant recipient

“Marginalized and equity-seeking groups are used to hearing that our ideas, practices, processes and work don't fit into existing structures - whether within a creative genre or a funding program,”

“The City Of Vancouver Cultural Equity Grant was the first opportunity re:Naissance Opera has had to determine how funding could best serve our ideas for new processes and practices that lift up and celebrate the integral work of marginalized and equity seeking artists in our community.”