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Not all arts councils are the same. Do you know the difference?

By Cathleen Enns

Riddle: what is the difference between an arts council and an arts council?

Answer: ‘Arts Council’ means different things when naming different types of organizations. There are, essentially, two types of arts councils whose activities are primarily different but complementary.

They are:

  • arts funding agencies
  • arts programming organizations.


Arts Funding Agencies

The Manitoba Arts Council is an arms-length funding agency of the provincial government established to award grants to artists and organizations in all art forms and disciplines, through such programs as Media Arts, Touring Grant for Organizations, Dance Creation Production, and Project Grant for Periodical Publishers, etc.

In order to have fair and objective decisions, grants are awarded through peer-assessment with juries being comprised of individuals who have a diversity of backgrounds, experience, and knowledge.

Funding agency arts councils work with artists and arts organizations, provide resources, conduct research, coordinate logistics for particular grant programs, and work to advance the sector.

The Manitoba Arts Council has sister funding agencies: the Canada Council for the Arts at the federal level; the Winnipeg Arts Council at the municipal level in Winnipeg; and arts council counterparts in many other municipalities and provinces and territories across the country.


Arts Programming Organizations

Arts Councils such as the The Pas Arts Council, or Pembina Hills Arts Council in Morden, or the Burrows Trail Arts Council in McCreary are arts programming organizations.  These are not-for-profit arts organizations that are publicly funded and governed by an elected Board of Directors. These organizations are sometimes staffed but often run by a group of dedicated volunteers.

Their mission is to provide communities throughout Manitoba and Canada with arts and cultural activity as presenters, exhibitors, and event coordinators of performances, exhibitions, workshops and classes.

These arts councils in Manitoba engage local and touring professional artists in such activities as concerts, theatrical performances, juried art shows, pottery classes, writing workshops, etc.


For more information about arts programming arts councils, see Manitoba Arts Network (umbrella organization for arts programming arts councils in Manitoba) www.manitobaartsnetwork.ca

Previous posts:

How does MAC evaluate grant applications? by Akoulina Connell

I Submitted My Manitoba Arts Council Grant Application… Now What!? by Diana Sefa