Dear Mr. Saras,

  Thank you for taking the time to discuss this article that I would like to submit for your membership to reprint as they choose. I would just appreciate notification if they use it and a copy of the publication if possible.

  I wonder if I might call on you as an editor to review my article before it goes out and offer any suggestions that you may have.

  Best wishes, Moneca

Written by Moneca Kaiser 

     An open letter to the Canadian Ethnic Press to Our Artists

              I have lived in Canada all my life and met many people who have received arts council grants and it always seemed so intimidating and inaccessible. As a new Canadian I wonder if you would even know that they exist, and that sometimes there are even incentives to encourage diverse representation. I have just applied for my first grants, please wish me luck, and would like to share what I have learned.   

              I hope to  inspire you to access this funding for your art. It is our cultural diversity that ensures our survival as a species and enriches our consciousness. Canada is a new country and many of you come from places with ancient cultures, histories, and experiences that I am thirsty to experience through your art.  Canada attests to celebrate this cultural diversity and still I imagine it is very hard to make a home in a new country.  When my parents emigrated here from Europe the last thing they thought about was artistic expression amidst their practical concerns of building a life here.  What is lovely about these art council grants is that they present an opportunity to do both.

              There are basically 3 tiers; the city provincial and federal arts councils each have their own awards programs.  They are divided into various artistic disciplines, for example, on the Canada Council for the Arts website, they list dance, inter-arts (Iím not sure what that is interdisciplinary perhaps), media arts, music, theater, visual arts, writing and publishing.  To be eligible,   ďGenerally you must be a professional artist and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada) to apply. A professional artist is someone who has specialized training in the field (not necessarily in academic institutions),is recognized as such by peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition), and has a history of public presentation or publication.Ē  Easy Peasy!

              Sometimes there are things like travel allowances and study grants available too. I encourage you to educate yourself because they are wonderful opportunities available and with a little patience and resolve achievable. For example I just nominated my Hungarian Choir Director for The Victor Tolgesy Arts Award available from the Council for the Arts in Ottawa to recognize the accomplishments of residents who have contributed substantially to enriching cultural life in the city, it has a $5000.00 cash award associated with it. Since coming to Canada from Hungary she has devoted 17 years to conducting my delightful Hungarian choir. She had never heard of such an award nor had most of the choir members many of whom came to Canada in 1956.  Cultural diversity enriches our lives and I would like to raise awareness about such opportunities with New Canadians.

              It can be a little overwhelming to navigate through all these opportunities in my experience and well worth the effort because it was actually pretty simple to apply once I figured out how.  Most offices have people available to answer any questions and I found them to be very helpful.

                What is important that I didnít realize, is to get exposure of your work so that you will be seen as a professional artist and eligible for these opportunities.  This too is easier than I thought. For example this article I am writing is hopefully going to be published in an ethnic press publication and if I receive even just a nominal remuneration (it can even be in kind, for example copies of the publication) I will have fulfilled  one piece of the requirement of the Ontario Arts Councilís definition of a professional artist.  ďAt least three separately published essays, short stories, poems or other work for which you have received payment.Ē I have two others in print so I will be good to go!    

            Other opportunities for exposure that are sometimes accepted include, public readings, communal art exhibits, most juried competitions, film festivals.  Iím also a filmmaker and have dawdled on submitting my film, please remind me, so I am more eligible for funding, itís a lovely little film called Visiting Elephant Beach. Film seems to have an emerging artist category that is more lenient probably because working in this medium costs more than being addicted to cocaine.    

            Which brings me to perhaps the most important aspect of grants, DEADLINES.  Many artists will attest these are arguably more valuable than the actual funding.  Even if I donít receive the grants I am so far ahead for having applied.  To qualify I had write a description of my project, who knew it would be so interesting!  I have written a creative resume that was revealed to me how committed I have been. I have refined and consolidated my manuscript for the memoir I am writing to present it in the best possible light for the funding.  All this has unwittingly got me half the work done to submit a book proposal where I might be able to secure an advance from a publisher to actually be able to afford to finish writing it.

               And, I have written this article, which is my privilege and honor because I would love to hear your stories and experience your art.  I encourage you to learn about the wonderful opportunities Canada offers to you as an artist.  Even growing up here I found it all so intimidating and itís actually manageable and accessible with a little patience and fortitude or a friend to lead you through.   Canada would do well to invest much more in her artists for sometimes we are the ones who can heal the whole world.  Bonne Chance!    

Moneca Kaiser is an emerging writer and filmmaker residing in Ottawa Canada and can be reached at





p.s. Please note this is my new and only email address now and I will be phasing out the others.