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Crazy Eights Salvaged wood from natural disasters (2018) by Laura Petrovich-Cheney, (Crafts Fellow ’21).

Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Individuals


Why did Mass Cultural Council create this grant program?
This program is meant to support the cultural sector’s recovery from the pandemic and set a path for growth. It is a one-time program created in response to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, which invests state and federal funds into pandemic recovery.


Who can apply to the Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Individuals?
To apply for this grant, an applicant must be: an artist or cultural practitioner active in any artistic discipline or cultural tradition; a teaching artist/scientist/humanist; or a cultural worker in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. In all cases, the individual’s work should be independent/self-employed. Applicants must be 18 years or older. And applicants must be full-year residents of Massachusetts. (This means you maintain your “legal residence” in Massachusetts, and you meet the definition of a “full-year resident”. Both terms are defined in the Massachusetts tax code. You must provide a physical address in your application.)

I’m a full-time student. Can I apply?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from individuals currently enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate program at a college or university.

How do you define “artist/cultural practitioner”?
We define “artist/cultural practitioner” as artists and culture bearers working in arts, crafts, dance, design, digital media, film/video, folk, world and traditional arts, literature, music, performance, photography, theater, and visual arts. Examples include but are not limited to actors, street artists, drag artists, DJs, theater designers and directors, puppeteers, comedians, choreographers, dancers, filmmakers/videographers, musicians, composers, conductors, creative writers of all genres and formats, muralists/public artists, and community-based artists and visual artists of all kinds. If you have any questions about whether your work is eligible for this grant, contact us.

How do you define “active”?
By “active,” we mean that you are currently committing time to practicing your art form. You do not necessarily need to derive significant income from your work in the arts (though it’s also fine if you do), but you should be able to demonstrate activity within the past five years. The application form requires you to upload your resume or include a URL that demonstrates your activity in your artistic practice.

How do you define “teaching artist/scientist/humanist”?
We define “teaching artist” as an independent individual who teaches art or artistic professional development to people of any age in any setting. Examples include but are not limited to: private music/art lessons; one-time workshops; K-12 school and community-based residencies; and ongoing art classes. We define “teaching scientist/humanist” as an independent individual whose work promotes education in the interpretive sciences or humanities to people of any age in any setting. Examples include but are not limited to: K-12 school and community-based residencies; one-time presentations at libraries, elder facilities, or other community venues; and activities at science fairs or public history discussions. If you have any questions about whether your work is eligible for this grant, contact us.

How do you define “cultural worker”?
We define “cultural worker” as an independent individual directly involved in arts and culture but who may not identify as an “artist.” Examples include but are not limited to a freelance curator, theater lighting technician, art conservationist, producer, editor, arts critic, or tour guide in cultural settings. If you have any questions about whether your work is eligible for this grant, contact us.

How do you define “independent”?
By “independent,” we mean primarily working on a freelance, contract, or gig basis. Unfortunately, we cannot fund applicants whose work in arts and culture is as a full-time employee at a cultural organization or business owned by someone other than the applicant. To clarify, if you work in arts and culture in addition to your full-time position, then you are encouraged to apply.

I am not an artist, teaching artist/scientist/humanist, or cultural worker, but I bring creativity to my work in health/beauty/business/etc. Can I apply?
Unfortunately, no. There are numerous fields – examples include business advertising, hair, fashion, or make-up (when unrelated to an artistic project like theater or film), culinary, and yoga or martial arts instruction – that benefit from creativity. We value the creative energy you bring to this work. However, this program’s funding was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature to support the cultural sector. So while we appreciate your creativity in your respective field, we cannot award grants to individuals not working in arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences.

I received a COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals grant in FY20 or FY21. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes, you are eligible to apply. However, please note that if you are selected to receive a Cultural Sector Recovery Grant, your grant amount might be reduced by the amount of your COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals grant ($1,000 from FY20 or $1,500 from FY21).

I have previously received an Artist Fellowship or Local Cultural Council grant. Am I eligible to apply for the Cultural Sector Recovery Grants?
Yes. Prior Mass Cultural Council grants do not interfere with your eligibility to apply for a Cultural Sector Recovery Grant.

I am an artist operating a business that is a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC. Should I apply as an Organization or Individual? 
Artists operating a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC should apply as Individuals for a Cultural Sector Recovery Grant. If selected to receive a grant, you will be required to complete a Massachusetts W-9 form where you can either use your social security number or your business EIN, if you are a sole proprietor or a single-member LLC, to receive the funds.

Support with Your Application

If I’m awarded a grant, will I need to submit a final report?
Grantees will be expected to complete a simple final survey on the use of their grant funds by July 13, 2023 for Agency reporting purposes. The information that you provide will be used to advocate for additional funds to continue supporting the cultural sector.

What if I have more questions?
Please read about the application process, then email Mass Cultural Council staff or call 617-858-2822.

Can you translate the guidelines and application into another language?
Yes, the Agency is happy to translate grant applications into certain languages. Upon request of language translation, we will notify a third-party service we have on contract. We would then email the translated application to the person requesting translation. That person would then answer the application questions in their native language, and email them back to Mass Cultural Council before the application deadline. Lastly, Mass Cultural Council would have the translation service put the submitted application into English. Fulfilling a language translation takes 7-10 business days. In order to ensure we can successfully meet the request, please make your request two weeks or more before the deadline. For more information, review the Mass Cultural Council’s Access Policy.

Grants and Timeline

What is the application deadline?
The deadline to apply to this program is 11:59pm (ET) on November 1, 2022.

If I am awarded, how can I use the funds?
The funds are unrestricted. Possible uses include but are not limited to technology or equipment upgrade(s); touring/travel costs; living, workspace, or housing costs; healthcare; professional development; supplies; hiring other artists; or other expenditures related to recovery of your career in the cultural sector. We trust that you know best how to sustain your practice.

If I meet the eligibility requirements and I apply, will I definitely receive a grant?
Applicants are not guaranteed to receive a grant because we may receive more applications than we have funds to award. Mass Cultural Council seeks to award these one-time funds to as many eligible recipients as possible, to assist the economic recovery of the cultural sector.

What are the program’s funding priorities?
Priority will be given to:

  • First-time applicants or applicants not funded by Mass Cultural Council programs in the past six years
  • Applicants who have been historically under-funded, including people of the global majority — Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Latinx, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, and all other ethnicities of color — and applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability
  • Applicants who are located in cities and towns that are below the state’s median household income and below statewide educational attainment (the percentage of adults who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree). This includes but is not limited to places designated as Gateway Cities. A full list of these under-resourced communities is available.

I meet one or more of your funding priorities. Do I need to do anything special in my application?
Please log into our grants management system. Click “My Profile,” and make sure all sections are updated and accurate.

Your guidelines state that grants will be awarded by region. What are those regions?
Yes, to ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region, proportional to the region’s application demand. The regions are:

  • Greater Boston
  • Central
  • Metrowest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Western

Is the grant taxable?
Yes. According to IRS guidelines, the grant money you receive is considered taxable income. Payments may affect income eligible benefits or services you receive as well as any unemployment payments. Seek guidance from the relevant agencies if you have any questions about impacts on your benefits. Tax forms are not automated, you will need to request the tax forms via the state’s VendorWeb site.


AAPI (also AANHPI) – an abbreviation that stands for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and is meant to include all Asian, South Asian and Polynesian ethnicities.

ALAANA (also AALANA and ALANA) – an abbreviation that stands for African, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, and Native American, and is meant to replace diminishing terms like minority.

Artistic discipline – a term used to describe an artist’s primary area of work within the cultural sector. Artistic Disciplines include but are not limited to: Dance, Theatre, Music, Opera/Musical Theatre, Visual Arts, Design Arts, Crafts, Media Arts, Literature, Folk and Traditional Arts, Interdisciplinary Arts, and Humanities.

BIPOC – an abbreviation that stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and is meant to be more inclusive and widely recognizable than a less specific term like people of color.

Collective – a group of artists/creatives sharing things like ownership, risk, benefits, and status to achieve shared goals, objectives and needs of the artists.

Earmark – a specified allocation of funding designated in a legislative bill for things such as a location, project, or institution.

Fiscal Sponsorship (also fiscal agent and unincorporated group) – A business practice or partnership characterized by a municipal or non-profit entity lending its tax-exempt status and 501(c)(3) benefits to a group that does not have its own non-profit status but is doing work that aligns with the agent’s mission. This relationship makes it possible for the unincorporated group to accept payment that is otherwise reserved for organizations with non-profit status.

For-profit corporation (also cooperative, partnership and LLC) – an entity that exists to earn income and pays income taxes.

Gateway Cities – midsize urban centers around the state that were slow to draw new investment in their economy as manufacturing opportunities stopped. The Massachusetts Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in the Commonwealth, which are Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.

Latino/a (also Hispanic, Latinx/e and Afro-Latino/a) – any person with ancestry in Latin America, a region usually unified by the predominance of Romance languages. This definition usually includes Portuguese-speaking Brazil and French-speaking Haiti but excludes Spain.

Hispanic was created as a term that refers to peoples descended from Spanish-speaking communities, such as Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans.

Latinx/Latine are gender-neutral alternatives for Latino/a.

Afro-Latino/Afro-Latina refers to people from Latin American countries with African ancestry.

MENA – an abbreviation that stands for Middle East and North African and encompasses a region of (22) twenty-two countries.

Native American (Tribal or Urban) – members of federal and state recognized tribes and Indigenous groups. Under U.S. law Native American tribes are distinct, independent political communities. This includes American Indians, Indigenous Americans, Alaska Natives, First Nations and urban Indian organizations.

Non-profit (also 501(c)3) – a tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 501(c)3 refers to the specific section of the IRS code that extends tax exempt status to charitable, educational, literary, religious, and scientific organizations, which includes most organizations in the arts and humanities.

Operating Expenses – money spent on something that is used to support normal business operations, including things like rent, equipment, inventory, marketing, payroll, and insurance.

People of Color – an imperfect umbrella term for people who do not present as white, especially in a white supremacist culture.

People of the Global Majority – a term that is being adopted more widely to describe the large part of the global population who consider themselves non-white.

Unincorporated Entities (groups and individuals) – a collective that comes together to create around a common purpose but is not incorporated with a non-profit tax status.

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with only one owner who pays personal income tax on profits earned.

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