Eligibility and application assessment according to program criteria are key factors that determine how the AFA distributes its funding.

AFA funding to artists and arts organizations is determined in one of two ways:

  1. Operational funding and arts presenting project funding are determined through formula calculation.
  2. Project funding is primarily assessed and awarded through a competitive expert panel process.

Operational funding and arts presenting

Applicants seeking funding that is determined via formula must meet eligibility criteria that is described in each funding opportunity. This type of funding is only awarded to organizations.

Funding formula generally follow this template: 

Successful applicants are eligible for a grant of X% of Y costs to a maximum of $Z

Project funding for individuals and organizations

It is important that funding applications from Alberta artists are evaluated by knowledgeable peers, which is why we use independent expert panels to adjudicate our project funding decisions. 

Expert panels provide the AFA with independent, informed perspectives and encourage excellence within the Alberta arts community. Typically, three people sit on any one expert panel.

Who selects an expert panel?

Expert panels are assembled as needed by Arts Branch staff. Panels are assembled that reflect the expertise required for each set of applications and to promote adequate representation of diverse perspectives, including:

  • artists in various stages of their career
  • artists from different locations around the province
  • different gender identities
  • Indigenous artists
  • culturally diverse artists
  • Francophone artists
  • Deaf artists and artists with disabilities

Any Albertan can nominate qualified members to be on an expert panel (see "Join an expert panel" below).

How do expert panels evaluate funding applications?

Expert panel award recommendations are determined by the specific criteria listed in each funding opportunity guidelines (under "How will my application be assessed?"). In general, the panel looks at artistic merit, impact, budget, and the applicant's ability to carry out the project.

Panels meet in Edmonton to deliberate funding applications. Typically, the process includes:

1. Prior to the start of their expert panel meeting, panel members receive online access to all eligible project applications through GATE (Grant Administration Tracking and Evaluation) to review.

2. The expert panel meets in person to consider each application and to review support materials. The expert panel must decide together which projects should be recommended for funding and the amount of funding that should be provided.

3. Expert panels may recommend funding for only part of the project or amounts for specific purposes, or may establish conditions which must be met before the grant can be paid.

Panel members are required to declare any conflict of interest and withdraw from adjudicating any application(s) in question.

Join an expert panel

We encourage expert panel nominations from Albertans to ensure the involvement of the arts community in AFA funding decisions. Anyone may nominate a potential expert panel member, including themselves.

Expert Panel members archive

To increase transparency, we share the names of all AFA Expert Panel members used to adjudicate all Individual and Organizational Project funding decisions from the previous year.

Download Expert Panel member spreadsheet (updated to end of 2019-20 fiscal year).

Funding application feedback

After funding notifications have gone out, we share general comments from the expert panels. This can be useful, discipline-specific information for new applicants as they develop their project applications.

You can find the most recent Expert Panel feedback in the guidelines of project-based funding opportunities, under the drop down section "Helpful resources." Alternatively, you can find this information for all funding opportunities on our Expert Panel feedback page.

Please note that Expert Panel members' comments provide a summary of the panel’s assessment and do not necessarily relate to every application submitted to each deadline. The expert panel does not provide individual comments.