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Nelson Arts Funding Made Simple

The deadline is March 5 for the CBTs two annual grant programs for artists (Photo: joel_laygan, Creative Commons, Flickr)

The two separate streams of Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) funding for the arts are not immediately easy to understand. 

It can be hard to distinguish between them because they have the same application deadline of March 5 and because an artist or arts group could easily be eligible to apply for some aspects of both. (It’s not duplication but it could look that way at first glance.) Also, between them, just for Nelson, five organizations and local governments administer them. 

The two programs are the Community Initiatives Program and the Arts, Culture and Heritage Program.


Community groups must apply before March 5 here for grants under the Columbia Basin Trust  (CBT) Community Initiatives Program

The RDCK spreads it around

In March, the CBT will send the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) $1,280,359 as its annual share of Community Initiatives funds. The RDCK will divide that up among its areas and municipalities, one of which is Nelson. 

City Council passes it on to the CDC

In Nelson, City Council adjudicates Nelson applications that are not within the arts and culture sector. Those that are in that sector will be handed over to the city’s Cultural Development Commission to be adjudicated.

A Nelson City Council policy says that up to 35% of Nelson’s funding will go to groups in the arts, culture and heritage sector.

A panel of artists decides

Nelson’s Cultural Development Officer Joy Barrett says arts, culture and heritage applications are adjudicated by a panel of six independent local artists chosen from a range of disciplines. She says she does not publicize the names of the panel members until after the decision, to prevent the possibility of the applicants lobbying the members. Barrett says she convenes and facilitates the panel but she does not have a vote.

The RDCK told The Nelson Daily that it is not ready to disclose the amount of this year’s Nelson’s allocation. Last year it was $120,856. The arts, heritage and culture sector got 35% of that, or $42,300.

Last year’s awards

In 2011, the arts, culture, and heritage awards were as follows (there were many others also, in non-arts categories):

  • Amy Bohigian, Watershed Productions ($500)
  • Amy Ferguson Institute ($2,500)
  • Association des Francophones des Kootenays Ouest ($2,300)
  • Eileen Delehanty Pearkes ($750)
  • Frances Welwood ($350)
  • Kootenay Pride ($1,000)
  • Nelson and District Arts Council ($5,000)
  • Nelson and District Museum, Archives, Art Gallery and Historical Society (Touchstones) ($1,800)
  • Nelson History Theatre Society ($3,750)
  • Nelson Public Library ($1,230)
  • Nelson Overture Concerts Society ($3,000)
  • Selkirk College ($5,000)
  • Valhalla Blacksmith Festival Society; ($7,500)
  • Nelson Fine Art Centre Society ($8,000)

Next year, new rules

Nelson City Council has decided that for next year it wants to re-evaluate its criteria and process for deciding Community Initiatives grants to make sure they are consistent with a number of its strategic priorities including the Sustainability Plan and the Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan. Council will consult with the RDCK and the CBT about this later in 2012.


The CBT’s Arts Culture and Heritage Program funding is entirely separate from the one described above. The deadline for some of its programs is March 5, for others it is March 23.  This program is administered by the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) and the application form can be found on that site.

This year the CBT has increased the total funding in this program for the basin region to $706,000, increased by $55,000 over last year.

Twelve content categories

Funding allocations are not set according to region or community but rather by content: there are separate arts funding programs for:

  • Minor Capital Project Funding
  • Support for Touring
  • Arts Mentoring and Master Classes
  • Organizational Development
  • Support to Communities through Community Arts Councils
  • Major Project
  • Artists in Education
  • Major Exhibition
  • Major Capital for Heritage
  • Heritage Innovations

The CKCA will be running workshops over the next few weeks on how to apply to the Arts, Culture,and Heritage Program