DonateGrowing Arts and Culture in York Region.

smART Accelerator Program

Call for Applications:
NEW! Extended Deadline for Applications: Sunday, September 18, 2016 by Midnight
Duration of Program: 6:30-9:30pm | Wednesdays from October 5 – December 14, 2016
Click here to apply for smART
Download a PDF version of the call for applications

About smART:

smART, a Starter Company program, is a great opportunity for creative, enterprising young people aged 18 – 29 who want to start, grow or buy a creative industry small business. The program provides hands-on business coaching and training, as well asmentoring from local business leaders under a placement following 10 weeks of in-class workshops. These inspiring individuals and companies will help make your creative business a reality.  

The program is intended for individuals working at the intersection of art, design and innovation. This closely follows local and regional priorities to attract and retain talent and build aninnovative, vibrant place to live work and play. This is your opportunity to shape not only your future, but the future of your community.

smART is a collaboration between the Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre, the City of Vaughan’s Economic Development & Culture Department and the York Region Arts Council.

Program Structure

• 10 weeks in-class (Wednesday evenings)
• Celebration event
• Professional mentorship
The duration of the program is up to 6 months in which you will receive
• Assistance with developing your business plan
• Seminars, workshops and training on all aspects of running a creative small business
• Ongoing support for running your business
• Coaching, mentoring and a placement in a local business
• Networking opportunities
• On-site support through a site visit
• An opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to run your business

Successful grant applications

Once you have completed your business plan, you have the option to apply for a Starter Company grant. If your grant application is approved, you will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in funding, provided that you can match the funding with a 25% contribution. The matching contribution may include cash or in-kind assets, assessed at fair market value, such as equipment or machinery required to run the business.

Approved grant applicants will receive an initial award of up to $3,500 to put towards the start-up or expansion costs and up to $1500 upon successful completion of the program.


You are eligible for smART if you are:
• A youth 18 to 29 years of age as of program intake date;
• Proposing a new company, expansion of an existing company or buying an existing business;
• Not a full time student and not returning to school full time;
• A resident of Ontario;
• A Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;
• Prepared to complete the business training components of the smART Biz program as outlined in the call for applications;
• Prepared to commit to a minimum average of 35 hours a week running the business;
• Can demonstrate 25% matching funds in cash or in-kind assets
• Prepared to attend monthly meetings for at least six months after acceptance into the program;
• Have not received a Starter Company grant in the past; and
• Not currently enrolled in the Self Employment Benefits (SEB) Program.

Application Process & Submission Requirements

Applicants are required to submit an online application form that includes all of the following:
• Basic personal and business information
• Creative entrepreneur profile questionnaire
• Support material – can be one or a combination of the following
• 5 JPG images of recently completed work; 72 dpi, 1024 X 768 pixels, label image files with a number, your name and title of piece (ex. 01_JohnSmith_BirchTrees)
• Samples of event/product/service flyers or brochures (JPG or PDFformat), label files with a number, your name or the name of your organization and title (ex. 01_ JaneDoe_DanceWorkshopFlyer)
• Maximum 2 minute video (send link to online YouTube or Vimeo video)
• Support material list

Note: If accepted based on the above application criteria, you will be required to fill out an additional form as well as submit a business plan and financials to be eligible for the $5,000 grant. The smART training sessions will assist participants in developing these items in preparation for the grant application.

The application process is exclusively online. It is mandatory that you input all of the above submission requirements in the online form with the exception of support material in the form of JPGs or PDFs, which can be emailed to Dustin Fox at Dustin [dot] Fox [at] vaughan [dot] ca. The subject line of your support material submission should read “smART Support Material.” Complete submissions are due before midnight on September 5.

Click here to apply today!

Important Dates

NEW! Application Deadline: Sunday, September 18, 2016 by midnight
Acceptance Notices: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Program Start Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Program Break Week: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Grant Application Deadline: Thursday, November 10, 2016
Last In-Class Session Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Celebration: January 2017

Selection Process

All applications will be reviewed by the program providers. A maximum of 20 applicants will be accepted for the program based on meeting eligibility criteria, full completion of application, ability to participate for the full duration of the program, creative merit and business viability.


Faculty will consist of small business and creative industry subject matter experts.

Notification of the Results

Acceptance notifications will be issued by email or phone after all applications have been reviewed. Due to the volume of submissions, only those accepted into the program will be contacted.

Location & Time

Weekly sessions will take place at Vaughan City Hall, 2141 Major MacKenzie Drive, Vaughan, ON L6A 1T1 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Post-program placement locations will vary.

York Region Arts Council, YRAC

1310 Kerrisdale Blvd., Unit 200
Newmarket, ON. L3Y 7B3

Phone: 905-726-3278
Fax: 905-726-2788

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