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Grants for Creative Individuals

Application Process

Mass Cultural Council believes creativity is the key to solving many of society’s concerns. Advancing this asset helps to make the Commonwealth a preeminent place in the nation for it to thrive.

Grants for Creative Individuals are unrestricted grants of $5,000 to Massachusetts artists, culture bearers, and creative practitioners to equitably advance creative expression throughout our diverse communities.

Además, la planilla de aplicación se encuentra disponible en español. Y usted también puede solicitar la traducción de otros materiales de la aplicación y que estos se le sean enviados digitalmente. Este proceso tardará de 5 a 10 días hábiles.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, translation, interpretation, and other services necessary so that any individual can participate in Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact staff for help. To facilitate your request in a timely manner, please contact us at least three weeks before any Mass Cultural Council event or grant deadline.

How To Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines (below), FAQs, and a sample application (PDF).


  2. Join us for information sessions on December 5, 2023 (or watch a recorded webinar) to learn about the program. Drop in for virtual office hours to ask staff questions.


  3. Learn more about requesting an accommodation for accessibility or requesting translation services​.


  4. Create a user profile or login to your account in the grants management system. (See details under “Grants Management System” below.)


  5. Complete the online application which opens on October 25, 2023 and submit it by 11:59pm (ET) on December 11, 2023.


Questions? Contact program staff.

Program Guidelines

Program Description

The Grants for Creative Individuals Program mission is to equitably advance creativity throughout the Commonwealth with unrestricted grants to individuals who demonstrate achievement of creative expression and commitment to their artistic/cultural practice.

The $5,000 grants are awarded after a review process that considers Funding Priorities, Geographic Distribution, and input from reviewers from the Massachusetts creative/cultural community.

Who Can Apply

We encourage you to apply if you are:

An artist, culture bearer, or creative practitioner active in any artistic/creative discipline. For this program, the definition of “artist/culture bearer/creative practitioner” includes individuals whose creative expression is based in: community-based arts, crafts, dance, design, digital, film/video, folk/world/traditional arts, native/indigenous arts, literature, music, performance, photography, theater, and visual arts.

If you have any questions about whether your work is eligible for this grant, contact us.

AND you meet all the following requirements:

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You are a full-year resident of Massachusetts for calendar year 2023 AND when grants are awarded in Spring 2024. 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 are not currently enrolled at a college or university as a full-time undergraduate student or as a graduate student in the arts.
  • You did not receive a Cultural Sector Recovery Grant, Artist Fellowship grant, or a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant over $2,000 in 2021, 2022, or 2023.
  • You are not a governor-appointed Mass Cultural Council member. Mass Cultural Council staff and family are likewise ineligible to apply.

Award Information

Grants will be $5,000, with no restrictions on use. We expect to award between 350-375 grants total, or approximately 6-12% of anticipated applications.

Application Instructions

Apply using Mass Cultural Council’s grants management system. If you are registered/logged in as an Individual, you will find the application form under “Current Opportunities”.

The application components include:

  1. An eligibility quiz to confirm you are eligible to receive the grant
  2. Personal information including your name, contact information, the general category of your artistic/cultural practice
  3. Brief narrative (1,500 characters/3 minutes or less) to describe your creative expression and commitment to your artistic/cultural practice
  4. Work samples (more information in the next section)

Work Samples

To demonstrate your achievement of creative expression and commitment to your artistic/cultural practice, submit a sample or samples of your creative work. Your work samples should be in-progress or completed within the last five years.

Work samples should be your own work. In the Work Sample Description box, it’s important to clarify your relationship to or role in the submitted work. If artificial intelligence has been used as a tool to support your work in some way, please include an explanation.

You may submit up to five total images/minutes/pages. This can be all one file type or include a mixture of file types. The important thing is that the total count of images/minutes/pages is at least ONE and no more than FIVE.

For example, all of the below submissions would reach the maximum of 5 work samples:

  • 5 JPG images
  • 5 minutes of audio or video
  • 5 pages of literary art
  • A combination of a 2 minute video installation + 3 JPG images
  • A combination of 2 pages of poetry + a 3 minute video of performance

You may submit the following file types:

  • Audio: FLAC, MP3, MID, MIDI, RA, RM, WAV, WMA.
  • Document: DOC, DOCX, PDF, TXT, RTF.
  • Image: JPG, JPEG, GIF, or PNG.
  • Video: 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP2, MP4, MPEG, MPG, OGG, OGV, RM, RMVB, WEBM, WMV.

Document files should be no more than 1 MB. Image/audio/video files should be no more than 1,000 MB/1 GB.

Review Process

The review will be based on information provided by applicants and verified by Agency staff. Mass Cultural Council will make every effort to ensure accuracy but cannot be held accountable for missing or incorrect information in the relevant sources.


Applicant submissions will be reviewed by Massachusetts-based members of the cultural/creative sector. If you are interested in being considered to serve as a Reviewer, please complete the Reviewer Registration Form tab under “My Profile” in our grants management system.

Reviewers will assign scores to help prioritize applications based on the program’s mission (see above).

We anticipate a high volume of applications. Because of that volume, we are unable to offer feedback on individual applications, after the grants have been announced.

Geographic Distribution

To ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by county in proportion to the county’s application demand. For example, if applications from Essex County make up 7% of the total applications received, Essex County will be allocated roughly 7% of the grants made.

Funding Prioritization

Mass Cultural Council seeks to broaden and diversify the range of persons who benefit from its grant programs. To that end, it will seek to attract and provide funding under this program to persons that may not have been, or had a fair opportunity to be, beneficiaries of Mass Cultural Council programs. Prioritization will include the following:

  • Applicants who have not received a direct Mass Cultural Council grant in the last six fiscal years (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023) which spans from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2023.
  • Applicants who have been historically underfunded by similar programs:
    • People who identify as BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Latine, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, and all other ethnicities of color.
    • People who identify as a person with a disability.
    • People whose creative practice has been limited by poverty. To receive this priority, applicants will need to provide proof of current participation in one of the following programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps; MassHealth/Medicaid; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC); federal and state public/subsidized housing programs.
  • Culture bearers or traditional artists. Applicants will self-identify as meeting our definition of a culture bearer or traditional artist. For this program, the definition of “culture bearer or traditional artist” includes individuals whose creative/artistic practice is reflective of the cultural heritage of a community. Most often, a culture bearer/traditional artist is trained for years by mentor artists or community elders and carries a commitment to sustaining a living tradition. Read more about how we define culture bearers/traditional artists.

Please note that Funding Prioritization is different from Eligibility. If you meet the Eligibility requirements listed above, you are encouraged to apply, even if you do not meet all, some, or any of the Funding Priorities.

Additional Factors

To make grant selections, staff will generate a ranked list based on Reviewers’ scores, Geographic Distribution by county, and Funding Priorities. If there are multiple applicants with the same score at the final grant slot, staff will apply additional distribution measures to break the tie. This includes geographic distribution by city, distribution by discipline, and distribution by career stage.

If there are tied scores that cannot be resolved using the mechanisms laid out above, Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to break ties, including using a lottery-style, random selection.

Grant Payment

Requirements/Important Payment Information

  • You must provide a physical address in Massachusetts in your application and contracting documents, and failure to do so could result in forfeiting the grant.
  • Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to request additional documentation to verify Massachusetts residency.
  • Grant payments are conditional upon grant recipients’ acceptance of Mass Cultural Council policies, including a public announcement of grant recipients’ names and cities/towns on Mass Cultural Council’s website. Additionally, recipients full legal name and award amount will be searchable in the Comptroller’s CTHRU website.
  • The grants are considered taxable income by the Department of Revenue.
  • Payment will be made to you as an individual.
  • If you receive public benefits that are income-limited and/or include asset limitations, this grant may impact those benefits. Please review this fact-sheet about grant impacts on public benefits.
  • As a state agency, our grants are subject to the Commonwealth’s Intercept process, meaning grants can be intercepted in part or in full to pay for past due state fees and debts. Please note this is a process outside of Mass Cultural Council’s control.

Contract Package

The contracting process is new for FY24. An Individual’s contract package consists of:

  • W-9 and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form — a DocuSign document
  • Contractor Authorized Signatory Listing (CASL) Form — a form to be downloaded, printed, notarized, and then snail mailed back to Mass Cultural Council
  • Standard Contract Form — a DocuSign document

The Commonwealth makes grant payments by direct deposit. Grant recipients who do not have a bank account can notify the Contract Officer at the time of award notification to request a mailed check.

We expect that electronic deposits will be made to the grantee’s account (or a check will be mailed) 6-8 weeks after the grantee returns their contract.

You can read detailed instructions about the Agency’s contracts, as well as contract Frequently Asked Questions.


Application opens: October 25, 2023
Information sessions: November 8 (11am) and December 5 (5pm) (A recorded information session will also be available.)
Application deadline: December 11, 2023
Awards finalized; email notifications sent: April 2024
Contracts sent: May 2024

Legal and Other Requirements

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination Policy

Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensuring that all programs, services, policies, and practices are formulated and conducted in a manner that will ensure equal access for all people and prevent discrimination not only as a matter of law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth’s population in Mass Cultural Council programs and services.

Mass Cultural Council is dedicated to creating a workplace, programs, and services that welcome, respect, and value people of all races, color, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religions, creeds, ancestry, national origin, disability and veteran status, and does not discriminate on the basis of these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs and services by removing any barriers to accessibility.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact staff for help. To facilitate your request in a timely manner, please contact us at least two weeks before any Mass Cultural Council event or grant deadline. Please read the full Access Policy for more information.

Reconsideration Policy

An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on their application if the applicant can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the results of a review does not constitute grounds for reconsideration.

The first step in the reconsideration process is to consult with the appropriate Program Staff, to discuss the review process that concluded in the Mass Cultural Council’s decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director, in writing, within 30 days of the Mass Cultural Council’s notification to the applicant of its decision.

Grants Management System

All applicants should submit their applications through the online system. To create a profile in the system you must have an email address, which will be your username.

If you have not applied to Mass Cultural Council before and/or do not already have a user profile, complete a registration in the grants management system.

  • Go to the online system and click “Register”.
  • On the next page select “Individual”.
  • After completing the registration, you should receive an email to activate your account. The account must be activated within 24 hours. After clicking the activation link, you will be prompted to create a new 8-digit password.

If you have previously applied for a Mass Cultural Council grant using your email address, you may have a profile in the system already. Here’s how you can check to see if you already have a user profile:

  • Go to the online system and click “Forgot Password”.
  • Once you submit your email address, you will receive an email with a temporary password and a link to the site.
  • Copy the password to use on the login page, you will then be prompted to create a new password.
  • If you do not receive an email, you do not have an account and you should create one (see above), or you can contact the grants help desk for assistance.

Proceed to the Online Application

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