City Hall's 12th Avenue entrance

Underrepresented groups benefit from more than $800K in culture grants

These inaugural Culture|Shift and Vancouver Music Fund grants are groundbreaking and clearly demonstrate the steps we’re taking to revolutionize Vancouver’s arts and culture scene as we kick off the new 10-year culture plan.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

November 27 2019 –

This week, Vancouver City Council approved a total of $885,250 in cultural grants, which will offer unprecedented support for local Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh artists and underrepresented communities, addressing historical discrimination of certain groups, and increased support for individual artists. The funds also prioritize investments in critical culture space-related projects. The 52 grants approved for 35 cultural organizations seed and begin implementing actions of the City’s new 10-year culture plan, Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture (1 MB), which includes Making Space for Arts and Culture (30 MB) and the Vancouver Music Strategy (74 MB)

In addition to the Culture|Shift grants, recipients for the $300,000 Vancouver Music Fund , which was announced earlier this year (119 KB), have been chosen. This is the first music-specific funding of its kind in North America—and the first civic or municipal grant in Canada— directly dedicated to supporting Indigenous peoples and a variety of underrepresented groups. The Vancouver Music Fund is administered by Creative BC and provides grants to emerging and diverse voices, and helps to shift and re-prioritize support to amplify a more diverse music and cultural sector.

“These inaugural Culture|Shift and Vancouver Music Fund grants are groundbreaking and clearly demonstrate the steps we’re taking to revolutionize Vancouver’s arts and culture scene as we kick off the new 10-year culture plan,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “With unprecedented investments in emerging and diverse voices, we're helping a wider-range of creators than ever before showcase their talents."

Supporting organizations and artists 

These grants approved today will support a range of organizations and artists in ways that further the key directions of Culture|Shift, including:

Arts and Culture at the Centre of City Building

Champion creators and elevate arts and culture through hardwiring arts and culture into City strategy and investment. Explore alternate methods to increase direct support to Vancouver artists in partnership with community organizations. 

  • Renew Partnership with The Art Starts in Schools Society ($60,000) to support emerging artists working with Youth through an equity lens. 
  • Chapel Sound Art Foundation ($20,000) for a Pilot Grant Program for artists who identify as women, BIPOC, and LGBT2Q+ working in electronic music, media art, film, performance art, dance, and design. 

Reconciliation and decolonization

Recognize and support Indigenous cultural knowledge and presence through decolonizing practices

  • Funding to Musqueam ($55,000), Squamish ($55,000), and Tsleil-Waututh Nations ($55,000): To be used as seed funding for the development of self-determined dedicated grant programs to support the development and creation of artistic and cultural works, language projects, and professional development opportunities, etc. 
  • Support to Carnegie Community Centre Association ($20,000) for the Elder in Residence Program, which serves low-income adults, Urban Indigenous artists, and people in the community (many who live with mental health challenges and addictions, or live with disabilities and chronic health conditions as a result of colonialism) with the goal of nurturing mind, body, and spirit in a safe and welcoming environment. 

Cultural equity and accessibility

Advance diverse and inclusive leadership and practices and the promotion of intangible cultural heritage and redress by offering equitable and accessible support

  • Support for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Punjabi Market ($24,000): Includes $8,000 each to Indian Summer Festival, South Asian Arts Festival, and the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society’s 5X Festival to support the ongoing vitality of cultural heritage and recognition of cultural redress in neighborhoods where communities have faced historic and ongoing discrimination and institutionalized racism. 

Affordable, accessible, secure spaces

Prevent displacement and partner with the community to secure, enhance and develop vibrant affordable and accessible arts and cultural spaces.

  • Small Grants for Cultural Spaces ($98,750): To be allocated to six projects; five of which will support research of an arts district, space feasibility, minor infrastructure and accessibility upgrades, and operational readiness; and one minor capital project for improved soundproofing. 

Collaboration and capacity

Strengthen sector resilience through facilitating partnerships, knowledge sharing, and leveraging investment. 

  • Capacity Investment in 18 Cultural Organizations working with Equity Seeking Communities ($230,500), including All Bodies Dance Society, Vocal Eye Descriptive Arts Society, and the Pacific Association of First Nations Women. 

To integrate equity into the Grants assessment processes, staff adopted a policy to exceed 50 per cent representation of people from marginalized communities in all of its assessment bodies for grants and awards. Staff also revised the nominations process for assessment committees and panels with an equity lens. 

A full list of the cultural grants recipients for Culture|Shift implementation can be found here.

“The City acknowledges that grants and awards programs have created systemic barriers and have historically limited meaningful support to Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and other Indigenous Peoples, People of Colour, People who live with disabilities, minority language speakers, members of the LGBT2Q+ community, and other underrepresented communities,” said Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture, and Community Services for City of Vancouver. “The new Culture|Shift and Vancouver Music Fund grant allocations represent the diverse cultural city we live in, and will provide support for artists who have not yet had the opportunity to be seen or heard.”

Vancouver Music Fund

Some of the artists, collaborations, and projects that are being supported as a result of the Vancouver Music Fund are: 

Industry catalyst program

Supporting projects that develop Vancouver’s music ecosystem and build the capacity of underrepresented groups. 

  • Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (held Nov 18-21), which featured musical performances by female-identified artists including: Inuit throat-singing sister duo PiQSIQ, Denesuline/Cree DJ Kookum, Saulteaux/Cree trans artist Quanah Style, Squamish nation deejays O Show and Paisley Eva Nahanee, and acclaimed Mohawk musician Kinnie Starr.

Demo program

Supporting new and emerging artists from underrepresented groups to create demo recordings and engage in mentorship and skill development with a BC producer. 

  • DJ O Show and Jane Aurora: Hip-hop track with themes centered around indigenous empowerment.

Music video program

Supporting the creation of music videos for new and emerging artists from underrepresented groups to build audiences. 

  • Terell Safadi – “Black History”: Music video highlighting the discrimination that Black people face in Canada and around the world, and to encourage all people regardless of race to help one another more.

View full list of Vancouver Music Fund recipients