TAC-CS Digital Solutions Incubator
Toronto Arts Council’s TAC-CS Digital Solutions Incubator program provides funding to arts organizations and collectives to address organizational challenges using digital technology.
Application deadline: March 20, 2023
For questions about this program, please contact: Kadija de Paula, Interim Strategic Programs Manager
What does this program support?
This program was created through a partnership between TAC and The Creative School (formerly the Faculty of Communications and Design) at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) to encourage arts organizations to consider the creative possibilities unlocked by the use of technology and design thinking. The partnership provides arts organizations with access to student expertise, to explore solutions to the challenges they face; the students receive practical, hands-on projects as part of the Toronto Metropolitan University Design Solutions Super Course. The Super Course is an educational experience that challenges students from different programs to work with external partners to conceive and develop solutions using a design thinking process.
Emphasis is placed on projects that:
- Address organizational challenges within the arts sector using digital-enabled approaches.
- Facilitate collaborative and unexpected solutions with the potential to benefit the arts sector.
- Provide arts organizations and artist collectives access to design and technological expertise.
- Enhance organizational capacity in the arts sector around digital technology
For the purposes of this grant, “digital” refers to any user-centered design process involving significant use of mobile, web, augmented/virtual reality or computer-based technology.
The grant amount is $15,000. As a guideline, please plan for approximately $10,000 in fees for the project leads and $5,000 for any materials and expenses related directly to the project. This grant is not intended to fund office computers, production equipment or any general operating expenses.
Successful proposals will articulate a challenge or pose a question pertaining to a current organizational challenge. The identified challenge may pertain to any aspect of operations including programming, administration, outreach, marketing, etc. Applications must acknowledge the relevance of their identified challenge to other members of their community, other arts organizations or the arts sector as a whole. Organizational leadership (if different than project leads) must be actively involved in the project, attending, and participating when appropriate. The goal is to address a significant organizational challenge through digital technologies and creative design skills, in whatever form is appropriate. We are seeking to foster innovative ideas for the creation of new capacity within Toronto arts organizations and collectives. The goal of this program is not to develop company websites, digital content or build digital communications plans for the applicant organizations.
TAC Accessibility grant
Projects involving Deaf artists and artists with disabilities may apply for an additional TAC grant by completing the Accessibility Expenses section of the application and including the requisite information in their budget. A TAC Accessibility grant will provide up to a maximum of $5,000 towards accessibility costs for artists incurred during the project. Accessibility costs include but are not limited to: ASL interpretation, audio description, closed captioning, communications assistants, attendant care (including helpers for Elders), support workers and equipment rentals or other supports required to meet artists' accessibility needs.
When Can The Project Happen?
The TAC-CS Digital Solutions Incubator funds an 8-month experience between September and April. The program is divided into two stages, corresponding with academic semesters.
- First Stage: From September to December, successful applicant organizations will work 10-15 hours a month, meeting regularly with a team of Toronto Metropolitan University Design Solutions Super Course 1 students to address their identified problem, with the aim of creating a prototype of the proposed solution. The prototype will be shared with the wider community during a “demo day” at The Creative School which the whole team will attend.
- Second Stage: From January to April, successful applicant organizations will continue on in one of two ways:
- Design Solutions Super Course 2: Teams selected to continue with Super Course 2 will have a chance to further develop their prototype with The Creative School students.
- Self-directed: Teams may be asked to continue development of their prototype with a partner of their choosing or on their own, independent of The Creative School.
Successful applicants are required to sign an agreement with The Creative School before beginning the project and attend a program evaluation meeting to be scheduled in 2023. Please download full guidelines for a description of the Design Solutions Super Course, past projects and terms of intellectual property.
Who Can Apply?
All applicants are required to contact the Strategic Programs Manager before applying.
- To apply to this program, applicants must be either an incorporated non-profit arts organization or an unincorporated artist collective operating on a not-for-profit basis.
- A collective is defined as two or more artists working together under a group name, either on a single project or on an ongoing basis.
- Organizations and collectives must be located in the City of Toronto. A Post Office Box address cannot be used to meet this requirement. Organizations with a regional Toronto office must have operated in the City of Toronto for at least one year prior to the deadline.
- For collectives of two artists, both must be City of Toronto residents. For collectives of more than two artists, the majority of members must be City of Toronto residents.
- Artists must be professional. A professional artist is someone who has developed their skills through training and/or practice; is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition; actively practices her/his/their art; seeks payment for her/his/their work; and has a history of public presentation.
- TAC recognizes that due to systemic barriers within the broader arts community (e.g. limited mainstream presentation opportunities for artists from equity-seeking communities) that some flexibility may be required in interpreting eligibility criteria to take into account equivalent professional experience and contexts. Potential applicants from equity-seeking communities are encouraged to discuss their eligibility with the Program Manager in advance of submitting an application.
- Applicants may receive a grant through the TAC-CS DSI only once every two years.
- Applicants who have already received or applied for both Discipline and Strategic Funding from TAC in 2021 are still eligible to apply to this program.
- If Ryerson faculty or staff (full or part-time) are employed by/members of your organization or collective, you are not eligible to apply.
- TAC has two distinct funding envelopes: 1) Arts Discipline funding (e.g. discipline-specific project grants and operating grants) and 2) Strategic funding (e.g. Animating Historic Sites, Animating Toronto Parks, Artists in the Library, etc.). Eligibility exception: you are able to receive a grant from this program in addition to one other grant from the Arts Discipline envelope and one other grant from the Strategic funding envelope per calendar year. Applicants are not eligible if they have an outstanding final report in any other program within the Strategic funding envelope (e.g. Animating Historic Sites, Animating Toronto Parks, Artists in the Library, etc.)
- Applicants are not eligible if they have an outstanding Final report in any other program within the Strategic funding envelope (e.g. Animating Historic Sites, Animating Toronto Parks, Artists in the Library, etc.)
- If Toronto Metropolitan faculty or staff (full or part-time) are employed by/members of your organization or collective, you are not eligible to apply.
This Program does not fund:
- Activities included in TAC operating grants
- Activities included in TAC project grants
- Capital projects or expenses
- Renovations or repairs
- Research or feasibility studies
- Projects previously funded through another TAC grant
How Do I Apply?
Applicants register and submit the application through TAC Grants Online (https://tac.smartsimple.ca). Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on the deadline dates. TAC does not accept applications by any other means of delivery. You will receive a confirmation email when your application is submitted. Check your spam/junk mail folder if it doesn’t arrive in your in-box.
Application Accessibility Support for Deaf Persons Or Persons With Disabilities
Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability and need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from Application Support Service Providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant in each calendar year. Please contact your Grant Program Manager at least six weeks before the grant program deadline to determine eligibility, request application support funding, and to review the process for payment to be made to your Service Provider. Requests for application support require approval from the Grant Program Manager.
Kadija de Paula, Interim Strategic Programs Manager
416-392-6802 x 231
LEARN MORE - VIDEO EXPLAINER
In this video, Course Instructor Richard Lachman from Toronto Metropolitan University talks about applying to, and participating in, the TAC-CS Digital Solutions Incubator program.