Just as everyone was winding down between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the Region of Waterloo’s Arts Fund announced that it was awarding $261,849 to thirty-three lucky, local creators and organizations who would be making art in Waterloo Region during 2023.   

“Taken together, these figures underscore the ingenuity, drive, and needs of the region’s diverse creators,” the release stated.  

Local artists Aaron T. Francis, Emily Urquhart, Geoff Martin, Peggy Plet, Sharl Smith, Mark Anthony Ramitt, Oja, Mary Abdel-Malek Neil, Behnaz Fatimi and Missy Bauman appear on the list of grantees, alongside 23 organizations and creative initiatives.   

They join the list of 943 other projects awarded grants since the Fund’s establishment in 2002, aiding the Fund in its mandate “To Make Art Happen.”  

“The role of the fund is to enhance the creative vitality of this distinctive region of Ontario by providing meaningful grants and advocacy support to individual local artists and to arts-and-culture organizations,” the release stated. 

The press release went on to identify the Arts Fund as one of the few, rare, granting bodies that funds directly to artist-led projects.    

Since its establishment, the Arts Fund has funded $5,327,634 to regional artists.  

“The Arts Fund welcomes grant applications in all arts disciplines, from individual artists and organizations throughout the region,” the release stated.   

Applicants may apply in the spring or fall of each year. The projects must be planned to release in the 12 months following the application.   

The only other payout this significant happened in December 2020, when the fourteen board members that adjudicate the applications approved a sum of $268,341.  

The numbers of applicants to this historic opportunity have remained steady with 98 applications, with requests totaling $776,977, during the Funds fall 2022 season.  

To find music, visual arts, performances, novels and essays among the projects, visit artsfund.ca to learn more.