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Home / Communities / Festivals / Application Process


Application Process

The Festivals Program is designed to provide funding and festival resources to help festival programmers meet the needs of producing, promoting, and developing festival audiences.

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.

How to Apply

Due to the delayed passage of a state budget for FY21, this grant process is paused.

Funding is generally available through two grant cycles, annually:

  • Spring/Summer Festivals (March 1 – August 31)
  • Fall/Winter Festivals (September 1 – February 28)

Grant Applications are made available in June and January. Applicants may submit one application per grant cycle. Applications are reviewed by Mass Cultural Council staff and granted on a “first-received, first-reviewed” basis.

  1. Read the program guidelines below.


  2. Listen to an informational webinar, read the FAQs, and preview a sample application (PDF).


  3. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, SerHacer, YouthReach, and/or Cultural Facilities Fund applications can all be used.)

  4. Complete and submit the online application.

Questions? Contact Lisa Simmons, Program Manager, at 617-858-2707.

FY20 Program Guidelines

Eligibility Requirements

The following entities are eligible to apply for Festival funding:

  • A Massachusetts 501(c)3 non-profit organization in good standing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts municipal entities such as Local Cultural Councils, public libraries, recreational departments, etc.
  • A Massachusetts based unincorporated group/association with a non-profit objective using a fiscal agent.
    • 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.

Festival Requirements

An eligible festival must meet the following criteria.

  • The festival is managed by a Massachusetts-based entity.
  • The festival is held within Massachusetts.
  • The festival has an 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.
  • The festival is an annual or bi-annual celebration or a first-time festival seeking to become an annual or bi-annual festival within two years.
  • The festival is
    • a one day event, open to the public for at least four hours or
    • a consecutive sequence of thematically curated events that takes place for no more than 14 calendar days.

 Ineligible events 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;
  • Virtual events;
  • Scholarship programs, pageants, conferences, symposiums, or seminars; and
  • Showcases or recitals for individual schools, including fairs, bazaars, fetes, or open house events.

Award Amount and Funding Period

The anticipated grant award amount for the FY2020 is $500 per festival.

  • Fall/Winter Festivals funding period is September 1 – February 29
  • Spring/Summer Festivals funding period is March 1 – August 31

All grant funding is subject to the annual State budget appropriation, recommendations of Mass Cultural Council Grants Committee, and the final approval of the Mass Cultural Council.

Eligible Expenses

Festival grant funding must be used for costs specific to the implementation of the proposed festival and incurred during the festival funding period.

Examples of the costs allowed include, but are not limited to:

  • 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.

Ineligible Expenses

Festival grant funding must not be used for the following items or activities.

  • Food and beverages, including alcohol.
  • Non-arts and cultural festival components (such as rides, games, booths, fireworks)

Review Process and Criteria

  • Applications are reviewed by Mass Cultural Council staff and granted on a “first-received, first-reviewed” basis.
  • The regional distribution is taken into consideration at the time of funding.
  • Provided that funding is still available, grant applications received within 45 calendar days of the application deadline may be considered.

Grant Timelines

Grant Requirements and Grant Cancellation

Festival Promotion and Publicity

Grantees must follow the guidelines provided within the Credit & Publicity Agreement, and use the Mass Cultural Council credit logo in festival publicity, marketing, and communications materials.

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.

  • FY20 Fall/Winter final reports grant recipients must complete and submit a final report in the online application for each festival grant received within thirty (60 days) of the festival end date and no later than April 28, 2020.
  • FY20 Spring/Summer Festival grant recipients must complete and submit a final report in the online application for each festival grant received within thirty (60 days) of the festival end date and no later than August 31, 2020.

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.

The Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, or cancel grants if a project:

  • 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. The 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. The Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to be in compliance with:

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

Reconsideration Policy

An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on his or her 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.

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