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COLUMN: In need of arts funding? Here’s the Nelson grants to apply for

Sydney Black writes about which organizations are offering arts funding
Rare Bird by Kelly Shpeley and Extant by Emma Noyes, two Nelson murals funded by various local and provincial grants. Photo: Ingrid Love

Hello artists and arts lovers! I am delighted to be penning this new monthly column, which will provide you with insight into the sector that we all adore, arts and culture. This month’s hot topic: local grant funding.

Almost daily I have conversations with amazing artists or non-profit leaders around the projects or programs that they want to take on. I love to hear about people’s ideas and creative dreams, but often bring up the inevitable, potentially dream-crushing question: “So, how will you pay for it?”

Luckily, we have local funders who host grant streams that can help answer that question, and it’s local grant season right now. Here is a brief rundown on a few streams that are available in the community.

Some local funding streams are only available to organizations, and some to individuals. The Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) funding through the West Kootenay Regional Arts Council ( is a huge support to our local and regional sectors. These funds are generously provided by the Columbia Basin Trust. If you are an individual artist, CKCA hosts the largest individual artist funding opportunities that you will be able to access in the region and has a plethora of programs that also are aimed at organizations. Deadlines for these grants are between March 3 and 10.

Columbia Basin Trust also provides the funding for the newly rebranded ReDi Grants, formerly the Community Initiatives Program ( This funding is provided through the trust’s local government partners across the Columbia Basin, which includes the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the City of Nelson. These funds are intended to support local projects that provide additional value to Basin Communities and that benefit the broad community and public good. They are provided to registered and non-registered non-profits (not individual artists) whose projects serve the community that they apply to. The deadline for this grant stream is Feb. 17.

This stream has yet to open, but the Osprey Foundation hosts community grants that they provide to registered charities or other qualified donees (see their website for more information on eligibility). This funding is not solely directed at arts projects, but at projects that benefit the community, specifically for the City of Nelson and RDCK Areas E and F. Keep an eye on for updates on the release of this grant.

Once you’ve settled on the perfect local funding fit from one of the awesome organizations above, how do you proceed?

First off, read the project guidelines and then call the funder. I highly recommend calling the program officer right away. If you wait until the last week that the program is open to reach out, they might be too busy to accommodate you. The program officers are incredibly helpful humans whose job it is to support you as you navigate their grant systems. They know more about the grants than anyone else. Tell them about your project and they will be able to flag anything that might not align with their guidelines. I promise you, and I know this from personal experience, that there is nothing worse than spending hours on a grant, sending it in, and then having it be disqualified due to ineligible requests.

As a closing note, please keep in mind that these streams are annual, so they only come up once a year. If you miss them, you’ll be waiting until 2024, so get in touch with those program officers today. Good luck!

Sydney Black is executive director of the Nelson and District Arts Council. This column will appear monthly.