The CRD Arts Service was created to provide for the giving of assistance for the purpose of benefiting the community, or an aspect of the community (the giving of grants within the service area). The Service includes responsibility for coordinated policy for support programs and facility development for the arts in the region. Annual operating grants are provided to eligible non profit arts organizations of regional significance whose primary mandate is public programming in the arts. Project grants may be provided to emerging or established arts organizations to produce or present one time, recurring, unique or developmental projects. Additional arts grant programs may be established from time to time, however, individuals are not eligible for grants. The CRD Board may establish one or more committees to advise the Board on matters regarding the Service and to manage the administration and operation of the service.
In 1958, the four core municipalities (Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria) established the Greater Victoria Intermunicipal Committee (IMC), which by 1960 included in its mandate joint funding for arts within their areas. In 1998, the IMC report CRD Involvement in the Arts, A Position on Structural Change was completed. After extensive consultation with all CRD municipalities, the IMC municipalities requested that the CRD assume their arts funding responsibilities and substantially increase the level of funds to be raised. In 2001, the CRD Board adopted Bylaw No 2884, Arts and Culture Support Service Establishment Bylaw No 1, 2001. The service continues to be authorized and administered under CRD Bylaw 2884 (PDF).
A Commission, made up of one councillor from each of the participating municipalities, provides community input for the delivery of the Service. The CRD Board established the Arts Advisory Council (AAC), an arms length third party to adjudicate arts grants requests and recommend organizational grant awards to the Arts Commission. The AAC also advises the Commission on policy for support programs and facility development for the arts within the region, as well as municipal arts policies that serve as a catalyst in the enlargement and enrichment of the cultural life of the community. The Service is managed and operated by the Arts Development Office in the Finance & Technology Department.
The budget for this service is established through an annual CRD Financial Planning process and is funded by an annual property value tax levied within the participating municipalities. There are two groups of municipal funders. The "Group 1" members, who raise the majority of funds, are Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich, Victoria and View Royal. The additional participants (Highlands, Metchosin, and Sidney) each provide up to 30% of what the calculated funding level would be for their municipality if they were a "Group 1" member. Non-participating municipalities may provide arts funding to the Commission, which is then incorporated into the overall grant funding envelope.