The Festivals Program provides funding and resources designed to help festival programmers meet the needs of producing, promoting, and developing festival audiences.
Festival producers may apply for a grant for producing an online, hybrid or in-person festival OR for festival audience development and engagement.
How to Apply
Watch the recorded information session about the new online application.
Create a user profile in the new grants management system. (See details under “New Grants Management System” below.)
Fall/Winter Festivals complete the online application which opens September 13, 2021 at 10am (ET) and submit it by 11:59pm (ET) on November 3, 2021.
Spring/Summer Festivals complete the online application which opens January 10, 2022 at 10am (ET) and submit it by 11:59pm (ET) on February 25, 2022.
Questions? Contact Lisa Simmons, Program Manager, at 617-858-2707.
FY22 Program Guidelines
In light of the continued challenges that festivals are currently facing, Mass Cultural Council will continue to support festivals as they rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Festival applicants can apply for funding to:
- Hold an Online, In-Person, or Hybrid Festival
We recognize the additional costs, training, and work that goes into producing a festival during uncertain times whether it is moving an in-person festival to an online platform, making the decision to become hybrid or producing an in-person festival.
We also recognize that in-person festivals must adhere to state COVID-19 safety regulations and requirements, which means additional costs for festival programmers.
We are looking forward to supporting new and unique approaches to festivals that creatively address physical distancing.
- Support Festival Audience Development and Engagement
We recognize that it is important for festivals to market and further engage audiences beyond their festival programming in order to sustain their community presence and strengthen their ability to deliver future festivals.
The goals of the Festivals Program are to:
- Celebrate the arts, humanities, and sciences through public programming
- Create a sense of place
- Offer diverse arts and cultural experiences
- Support Massachusetts artists and those working in the humanities and interpretive sciences
- Showcase the Commonwealth’s geographic, artistic, and cultural diversity
The following entities are eligible to apply for Festival funding:
- A Massachusetts-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in good standing with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts municipal entities such as Local Cultural Councils, public libraries, recreational departments, etc.
- Applicants using a fiscal agent: Massachusetts based unincorporated group/association with a non-profit objective, or a Massachusetts based corporation in the process of obtaining a 501(c)3 designation. Fiscal agents can either be municipal entities or non-profit entities incorporated in Massachusetts or registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Massachusetts.
Applicants must be in good standing with all Mass Cultural Council grant programs at the time of application.
- ALL APPLICANTS
In order to be eligible, all festival applications must meet the following criteria:
- The festival is managed by a Massachusetts-based entity.
- The festival has identifiable arts, humanities, or science theme.
- The festival employs or showcases Massachusetts artists, humanists, or scientists.
- The festival is open to the public and includes some aspect of free programming.
Festival producers may apply for a grant for producing an online, hybrid or in-person festival OR for festival audience development and engagement.
- ONLINE, HYBRID, AND IN-PERSON FESTIVAL APPLICANTS
- If in-person or hybrid, the festival must be held within Massachusetts.
- The festival is
- A one-day event, open to the public
- A consecutive sequence of thematically-curated events that takes place for no more than 14 calendar days.
- If your festival is in-person or hybrid, you must have a plan for it to be delivered online if state guidelines do not permit in-person gatherings.
- First-time festivals can apply for funding for online, hybrid, and in-person festivals.
- AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT AND ENGAGEMENT APPLICANTS
- The proposed activities help the festival programmer sustain the festival’s community presence and strengthen their ability to deliver future festivals.
- Funds may be used for the following activities:
- Develop/strengthen social media presence.
- Developing/strengthen websites to help reach new audiences.
- Audience engagement activities undertaken if the applicant is unable to produce a festival during Covid-19.
- First-time festivals cannot apply for funding for festival audience development and engagement.
For all applications, ineligible activities include but are not limited to:
- Parties, private celebrations, or events not open to the public
- Festivals organized for or by political parties
- Trade fairs, events of a commercial nature, and consumer shows
- Events that are produced solely as fundraisers, or that contribute to endowments
- Organization’s season or a seasonal series of presented or produced programs
- Competitions and award ceremonies
- Sports and recreation activities and related events
- Scholarship programs, pageants, conferences, symposiums, or seminars
- Showcases or recitals for individual schools, including fairs, bazaars, fetes, or open house events
- Requests for general operating support unrelated to a Festival or Audience Development and Engagement activities
Funding From Multiple Programs – Impact on Festival Eligibility/Funding
Organizations currently receiving Mass Cultural Council’s CIP Portfolio or Gateway funding are eligible to apply for a Festivals grant, however if requests exceed available funds those organizations will only be awarded grants to the extent there are funds available. Priority will be given to applicants that are not current CIP Portfolio or Gateway grantees.
Additionally, an applicant may apply to both CIP Projects and Festivals for funding for the same festival, however, the maximum award amount between the two programs for that festival will be capped at $2,500. This means that:
Fall/Winter Festival Cycle:
- If a festival is awarded a $1,500 Fall/Winter Festival grant, that same festival, if funded through CIP Projects will only receive $1,000 in funding for a total of $2,500.
Spring/Summer Festival Cycle:
- If a festival is awarded a $2,500 FY22 CIP Project Grant, it cannot receive a Spring/Summer Festival grant for the same festival because it received the capped amount of $2,500. This means you may not submit the same project for a Spring/Summer Festivals grant.
These restrictions do not apply if an applicant submits a grant request to CIP Projects for a project that is separate and different from the festival it is applying to the Festival Program for.
Award Amount and Funding Period
The grant award amount for FY22 is $1,500 per festival.
- Fall/Winter festivals (September 1, 2021 – February 28, 2022)
- Spring/Summer Festivals (March 1 – August 31, 2022)
All grant funding is subject to the annual State budget appropriation, recommendations of Mass Cultural Council Grants Committee, and Mass Cultural Council’s Final Approval.
Festival grant funding must be used for costs specific to the implementation of the proposed festival and incurred during the funding period.
Eligible festival expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Social media engagement and marketing costs, such as ads, influencers, and other promotional costs
- Costs associated with developing/strengthen festival website or making it more accessible
- Other audience engagement tools, such as cable access, radio, TV, print, e-newsletter, and audience survey tools
- Fees paid to artists, musicians, performers, celebrities, special guests, and speakers
- Festival programming and production costs
- Production costs for equipment rentals; such as but not limited to sound, visual, stage, and rigging
- Accessibility services such as visual enhancements, Interpreters, listening guides
- Translation costs, such as promotional or programming materials for multi-cultural audiences
- Marketing and promotional materials using proper acknowledgment of funding and credits
- Audience surveys, research, or economic impact studies related to festival activities
Festivals grant funding must not be used to purchase or pay for the following:
- Food and beverages, including alcohol.
- Non-arts and cultural festival components (such as rides, games, booths, fireworks)
Review Process and Criteria
The Mass Cultural Council will fund all eligible Festivals applications if funding allows. If the requests for Festivals grants exceed the available funds we will use the following factors to determine awards:
Prioritization: We will de-prioritize the following applicants, meaning we will remove them from consideration (in this order) if we have insufficient funds to make grants to all eligible applicants:
- Applicants receiving FY22 CIP Portfolio funding
- Applicants receiving FY22 CIP Gateway funding
- For the FY22 Spring/Summer Festival cycle, applicants who received an FY22 Fall/Winter Festival grant
Geographic distribution: Grants will be distributed via a lottery-style, random selection process. To ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region in proportion to the region’s application demand. The regions are as follows:
- Greater Boston
For example, if applications from the Southeast region make up 15% of the total applications received, the Southeast region will be allocated roughly 15% of the grants made. Within each region, awards will be made to eligible applicants using a randomized selection process.
Grant Requirements and Grant Cancellation
Festival Promotion and Publicity
Data Collection and Reporting
Grantees are required to gather information about the festival participants. This may include contact information like a name and email address or a name and mailing address attendee data – typically name and email address and mailing address. The Mass Cultural Council provides resources about collecting and making use of audience data. Grantees will report on their data collection activities in their final report.
Failure to complete the final report will result in loss of eligibility for the Festivals Program and all other direct Mass Cultural Council grant programs until the final report has been received.
Holds and Cancellations
Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, or cancel grants if a festival:
- Fails to comply with the terms of the grant contract
- Does not properly credit Mass Cultural Council support
- Misses deadlines for grant reports
Accessibility and Non-Discrimination Policies
Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensure that all personnel and service programs, policies, and practices will be formulated and conducted in a manner which 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 happy to offer applicants/grantees alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact our staff for help.
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. Mass Cultural Council will not fund any organization or program that discriminates on the basis of these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs, and services removing any barriers to accessibility. Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to be in compliance with:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract (see contract requirements) certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can support both the public and the grantee. Additional information about Mass Cultural Council’s Accessibility Requirements and Compliance Tools for Grantees are located in our Access 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.
New Grants Management System
All applicants should submit their applications through the online system. To create an 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 “Organization” to register your organization, school, town, or other group.
- Your organization may already have a record in the system. Use the Organization name field to find and select your organization, then provide your contact information.
- If your organization’s name is not listed, click the link at the top of the page to register your organization manually. There you will also provide your own contact information as well.
- 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