Grants for Creative Individuals
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply to the Grants for Creative Individuals?
To apply for this grant, you must be an artist, culture bearer, or creative practitioner active in any artistic discipline or cultural tradition. Applicants must be 18 years or older. Applicants must be full-year residents of Massachusetts in the calendar year you apply as well the calendar year the grants are awarded. (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 at a college or university in 1. an undergraduate program or 2. graduate program in the arts.
Can I apply as a collaborative team?
No, applicants need to apply individually to the Grants for Creative Individuals. If both members of the collaborative team meet the Eligibility requirements, both can apply. If the submitted work samples were created collaboratively, make sure to note that in the Work Sample Description, and be clear about what was your contribution to creating the work.
How do you define “artist/creative practitioner”?
We define “artist/creative practitioner” as an individual working in arts, crafts, dance, design, digital media, film/video, world 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 “culture bearer or traditional artist”?
We define “culture bearer or traditional artist” as an individual 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. Their tradition and cultural heritage is apparent in both their training and in the work itself, with culturally-specific materials, forms, styles, and/or expression. Examples include Uyghur calligraphy, Irish uilleann pipes, Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, Dominican Carnival traditions, and North Indian classical dance. Culture bearers or traditional artists may have previously applied for our Traditional Arts Apprenticeships or the Artist Fellowships in Traditional Arts. You can get a strong sense of the work of culture bearers and traditional artists by watching some of the videos in the Keepers of Tradition playlist on Mass Cultural Council’s YouTube channel.
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). The Work Samples you submit need to be recent: either currently in-progress or completed within the past five years.
I am not an artist, culture bearer, or creative practitioner, 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 or make-up (when unrelated to an artistic project like theater or film), culinary, yoga, alternative healing, 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 Mass Cultural Council’s governor-appointed Council to support individuals working in artistic disciplines. So while we appreciate your creativity in your respective field, we cannot award grants to individuals who are not working in: community-based arts, crafts, dance, design, film/video, folk/traditional/world arts, literature, media arts, music, performance, photography, theater, and/or visual arts.
I received a direct grant over $2,000 from Mass Cultural Council (such as an Artist Fellowship, Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, or a Cultural Sector Recovery Grant) in 2021 or later. Am I eligible to apply to the Grants for Creative Individuals?
No. There is a wait out period of three years after receiving a direct grant above $2,000 from Mass Cultural Council. We encourage you to submit your interest in participating in the review process as a Reviewer (see below). Recipients of direct grants below $2,000 (such as the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals or most Artist Fellowship “Finalist” awards) are eligible to apply. However, please note that there is a Funding Priority for applicants who have not received a direct grant from Mass Cultural Council in the past six years.
I have received grants through the Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program in the past. Do those prevent me from being eligible to apply or from meeting the “new grantee” Funding Priority?
We’re glad you’ve received support from the Local Cultural Council Program! Those grants are not considered “direct grants from Mass Cultural Council” and therefore do not prevent eligibility to apply to the Grants for Creative Individuals. Also, LCC grants are not direct grants from Mass Cultural Council in the past six years. So LCC grants will not block you from receiving that Funding Priority.
Where can I apply to the Artist Fellowships/Cultural Sector Recovery Program/Traditional Arts Apprenticeships?
We do not have any current plans to offer new applications in these programs. The Grants for Creative Individuals includes aspects of our past programs and is meant to serve as a simplified, “all-purpose” grant for artists, culture bearers, and creative practitioners.
I want to apply, and I am logged into your grants management system, but I don’t see the Grants for Creative Individuals under “Current Opportunities.” Why not?
We have found that some users have multiple profiles in our system: an “Organization” or “LCC Member” profile and an “Individual” profile. The system only displays grants and opportunities that suit your profile, so you need to make sure you are logged in as an Individual. Keep in mind that each unique profile needs to have a unique email address.
Can you translate the guidelines and application into another language or provide the documents in accessible formats?
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. For more information, review the Mass Cultural Council’s Access Policy.
What are “Funding Priorities,” and how do they work?
Applicants who meet the Funding Priorities listed in the program guidelines will automatically receive a modest rating advantage in the program’s review and scoring. The Funding Priorities reflect Mass Cultural Council’s vision and values as an Agency and are listed in the guidelines.
What if I don’t meet all (or any) of the Funding Priorities? Should I still apply?
If you are eligible to and interested in applying, then yes, please do! The Funding Priorities are separate from eligibility. We expect that some applicants will meet certain Funding Priorities and some will not. The Funding Priorities are just one of the factors in the review process.
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. Some funding priorities, such as the anti-poverty program priority and the culture bearer/traditional artist priority, will require further verification. Follow the instructions in the online application.
Your guidelines say the work sample(s) need to be my “own work.” What does that mean?
By your “own work,” we mean that the submitted creative work should be 1. Entirely created by you or 2. Created with a substantial contribution by you. If the latter, please explain in the Work Sample Description what your part in the work’s creation is. For example, if you were the cinematographer for a film scene that was written/directed/performed by others, you’ll need to specify your contribution was the cinematography. If artificial intelligence (A.I.) was used as a tool in the creation of your work, that needs to be explained in the Work Sample Description. You may use AI programs to help generate ideas and brainstorm. However, you may not submit any work generated by an AI program as your own.
The program mission references grants to individuals who demonstrate “achievement of creative expression” and “commitment to your artistic/cultural practice.” What do you mean by this?
By “achievement of creative expression,” we mean that what you are trying to do or express with your creative work is reflected in your submitted work samples. In the Artist Narrative, you’ll have the chance to share the goals/questions/themes, etc that drive your work. The strongest applications will include both a compelling Artist Narrative and Work Samples that reflect the ideas laid out in the Narrative.
By “commitment to your artistic/cultural practice,” we mean that your Artist Narrative and Work Samples reflect an ongoing focus on your creative practice. This can include commitment of time, energy, learning, innovation, and/or purpose.
How many work samples can I submit?
You need to submit at least one work sample. The maximum length you can submit is a total of FIVE images/pages/minutes. This can include one file or multiple files. Some examples of eligible submissions include: 1 five-page literary document; 5 jpg images; 2 jpg images and 3 minutes of video; 2 minutes of audio, 1 page, and 2 jpg images, etc. The important thing is that you submit at least 1 image/page/minute but no more than five images/pages/minutes.
What file types can your grants management system accept?
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.
How large can my work sample files be?
Please upload files of 1 MB or less for document files or 1,000 MB/1 GB or less for image, audio, or video files.
Can I link to a website instead of uploading work sample files?
Unfortunately, no. You need to upload a file or files for your work sample(s).
Can I upload files from a cloud storage site?
We suggest saving your file(s) on your device’s hard drive and uploading from there.
I am submitting a document containing my literary art. What are the spacing requirements?
The key is readability. Prose should be double-spaced. Poetry and scripts should be easily readable. Font should be 12-point or larger.
When I try to upload my files, I get an error message and the file won’t upload. What can I do?
We have noticed that some users with older web browsers (particularly Safari) are having an issue with an “internal error.” If you are having this issue, we would suggest trying an alternative web browser. If problems persist after trying an alternative web browser, contact program staff.
Is the program anonymously judged? Can my name appear on or in my work sample(s)?
Unlike the Artist Fellowships program in the past, the Grants for Creative Individuals program is not anonymously judged. It’s up to you whether or not your name appears on or in your work sample. There is no requirement either way.
Grant Process and Timeline
What is the application deadline?
The deadline to apply to this program is 11:59pm (ET) on December 11, 2023.
What is the review process?
The program’s grant recipients will be selected using a review process that includes input/scores from the program’s Reviewers, Geographic Distribution, and Funding Priorities. After all of these are calculated, Mass Cultural Council will generate a ranked list. If there are tied scores in the final grant slots, we plan to run a further analysis for equitably distributing grants by other factors, including by city (initial geographic distribution is by county), career stage, and/or creative discipline. If these mechanisms fail to resolve all tied scores, Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to break ties, including using a lottery-style, random selection.
Your guidelines state that the review process includes Geographic Distribution. How are grants distributed by geography?
Yes, to ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by county, proportional to the county’s application demand. The grants management system will use your address on file to calculate this. There is nothing you need to do, except make certain your address is up-to-date in our system.
Who are the Reviewers? How do I sign up to be a potential Reviewer?
The Reviewers are a diverse group from the Massachusetts creative and cultural sector. Reviewers have agreed to work with Mass Cultural Council to prioritize applications for funding based on the program’s mission. They will do this by reviewing each application and assigning a score. 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.
How many applications do you expect to receive vs how many grants do you expect to award?
Our best estimate is that we will receive between 3,000 and 6,000 applications. We plan to award between 350 and 375 grants. Based on this range, we expect to award between 6-12% of the applications.
For Grant Recipients
If I am awarded, how can I use the funds?
The funds are unrestricted. Possible uses include but are not limited to creative projects; technology or equipment upgrade(s); touring/travel costs; living, workspace, or housing costs; healthcare; apprenticeships; professional development; supplies; hiring other artists; or other expenditures related to your creative practice. We trust that you know best how to sustain your artistic/cultural work.
Is the grant award taxable?
Your grant award is considered taxable income. You can download a 1099G Form to file with your 2024 taxes. To download your tax form at tax time, go to VendorWeb and use your Vendor Code (which can be found in your “Fully Executed” contract in our grants management system). It is important to consult with a tax professional or use tax software to ensure that you are reporting your grant award correctly on your tax return.
I receive public benefits (such as SSI, SNAP, subsidized housing, etc.). Could this grant have an impact on my benefits?
It could. If you are selected to receive a grant, Mass Cultural Council may be able to connect you to a benefits counselor who can help you understand (and possibly minimize) any impacts on your benefits. In the meantime, please review this fact sheet about grants and public benefits.
I have past-due debts to another state entity (such as the Department of Revenue, the UMass system, etc.). If I receive a grant, could it be garnished or intercepted?
Yes, as a state agency, Mass Cultural Council’s 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. This is a process outside of Mass Cultural Council’s control.
What is the Agency’s contract process?
Our 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
How are the payments made?
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.
When will I receive my grant distribution?
Due to the high volume of grants, we estimate a 6-8 week waiting period starting from the date we receive your completed documents.
Why is it taking so long to process grant payments?
Unfortunately the state payment process just takes time. We advise that you expect 6-8 weeks for your funds to arrive.
Do I really need to send in a notarized document?
Yes, the Commonwealth has added this requirement to reduce fraud. We will do everything we can to help you meet this requirement.
How do I find a notary public?
You can read some tips on finding a notary public at Mass.gov.
Why do I need to provide a voided check or bank letter?
A voided check or bank letter is required to disburse grant funds through electronic funds transfer (EFT). We need to verify your banking information to ensure that the grant funds are deposited into the correct account.
If you do not have a voided check, a bank letter can also be used to provide this information. A bank letter that is typically used for this process is the “Non-Federal Direct Deposit Enrollment Request Form”. Some banks may provide access to this form on their online banking account, or you may need to request it from your bank in person.
What if I have more contract questions?
Read detailed instructions about the Agency’s contracts, as well as contract Frequently Asked Questions. If you do not find the answers to your contract question, please contact our Contracts Office.
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. For-profit corporation (also cooperative, partnership and LLC) – an entity that exists to earn income and pays income taxes.
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.
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.