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What are the goals of the Festivals Program?

  • To engage residents and visitors with programs that celebrate the arts, humanities, and sciences.
  • To build community.
  • To offer diverse arts and cultural experiences.
  • To support Massachusetts artists and those working in the humanities and interpretive sciences.
  • To showcase the Commonwealth’s geographic, artistic, and cultural diversity.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for funding a festival must:

  • Be based in Massachusetts and managed by a Massachusetts-based entity.
  • Have a 501(c)(3) designation and be in good standing with the IRS, or an organization applying through a 501(c)(3) fiscal agent. The fiscal agent must be incorporated in Massachusetts or registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Massachusetts and in good standing with the IRS.
  • Be an annual or bi-annual celebration.
  • Be an organized consecutive sequence of curated events within a certain time period – not less than 4 hours in one day and not to exceed 14 consecutive days.
  • Be an identifiable unified theme that either has an arts, humanities or interpretive science component.
  • Be in operation for 1 year or more (first year festivals are not eligible).
  • Employ or showcase MA artists, humanists, or scientists.
  • Be open to the public and include free programming.
  • Be in good standing with other Mass Cultural Council grant programs.

Festivals produced by municipal departments such as Local Cultural Councils, parks and recreation departments, and libraries are eligible to apply.

Ineligible festivals include:

  • Individual organization’s season or seasonal series of presented or produced work.
  • Sports and recreation activities and related events.
  • Virtual events.
  • Competitions and award ceremonies.
  • Scholarship programs, pageants, conferences, symposiums, or seminars.
  • Trade fairs, events of a primarily commercial nature, consumer shows.
  • Events that are organized as fundraisers, or that contribute to endowments.
  • Events organized as showcases or recitals for schools, including: fairs, bazaars, fetes, or open house events.
  • Events organized by political parties, or produced as platforms for politically partisan activity.
  • Parties, private celebrations or events not open to the general public.

What can this funding be used for?

  • Fees paid to artists, musicians, performers, celebrities, special guests, and speakers.
  • Programming and production costs.
  • Equipment rental such as: sound, stage, lighting.
  • Accessibility services such as: enhancements for people with visual impairment or hearing loss.
  • Audience surveys, research, or economic impact studies related to festival activities
  • Translation costs such as: promotional or programming materials for multi-cultural audiences.
  • Marketing and promotional materials.

What do you mean by a “promotional strategy”?
What tools will be used to promote the festival such as advertising, website, social media platforms, press releases, fliers.

What do you mean by “arts, humanities, and sciences”?
Arts: The creation of work in the crafts, performing, visual, media, folk, design, literary, and interdisciplinary arts.

Humanities: Types of learning that deal with human values and aspirations, human thought and culture, language, and creativity. Examples include, but are not limited to, history, social studies, philosophy, criticism, and literature.

Sciences: Types of learning that deal with nature, science, and technology in ways that explain how they relate to people’s lives. Some examples of organizations that conduct interpretive science activities are aquariums, arboretums, botanical gardens, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, and science and technology centers.

What should I know about filling out a new user profile?

Create a user profile at by clicking “Yes, I agree”, then by selecting ‘Organization’ at the top of the next page. (If you select ‘Individual’ by mistake you may not be able to access the application.)

Primary Contact Information: This is the information for the person in charge of the Festival who Mass Cultural Council can contact.

Applicant Information: This is the information for the legal applicant of the Festival (who Mass Cultural Council will send all contracts and funding).

Legal Name: Enter the name of the producing entity.
FEIN/TAX ID: if applicable. If applying under fiscal agent enter fiscal agent EIN/TAX ID
Applicant Status: 501(c)(3), Unincorporated, or Municipal
Applicant Discipline: If the festival focuses on a specific theme or audience, select the corresponding button. If not, select “Multidisciplinary”
Grantee Race: Choose the selection that reflects the race of the festival’s staff. In most cases this will be “No single group.”

Can I see the application before creating a user profile?
Yes. You can preview a sample application (PDF).

What should I know about filling out the narrative questions?
Look at the sample application (PDF) for the questions and character limits – which include spaces.

We recommend that you develop your narrative in word processing software and then copy and paste it in the appropriate narrative boxes once the online application opens.

Before you copy and paste responses from word processing software into the online application, save the file as “text only.” After you’ve entered the text, be sure to click “View PDF” at the bottom of the screen to make sure your narrative looks the way you want it to and is complete.

Can I make changes to my application?
You can make changes to your application any time up until you hit “Submit.” After you hit “Submit”, but before the application deadline, you can email Lisa Simmons to ask her to re-open your application for you.

I’ve forgotten my username and/or password – how do I find out what it is?
You can click “Forgot Your Username or Password” link on the online application.

Is there an application deadline?
No yet for festivals happening Sept 1, 2020 – Aug 31, 2021. We are waiting for the state budget to be approved.

How large a grant can we receive?
All grants for this year are $500.

Do we need to come up with a match?
No. There is no match required for this grant.

Do I need a fiscal agent to apply?
Yes, you need to either be a 501c3 or if you are an unincorporated organization you will need to apply for the grant through either a fiscal agent or a municipality. The funds will go directly to your fiscal sponsor or other and then be disbursed from that organization.

How soon will we hear whether we will receive a grant?
You will receive an email a month after the deadline informing you of the outcome of your application. Be sure your email is set to receive messages from the Mass Cultural Council (

If you are awarded a grant, you will receive instructions on how to complete a contract with the Mass Cultural Council. You must return your contract within 30 days of receiving the contract.

We submitted our contract but have not yet received our payment. Where is the money?
Your grant funds will be electronically transferred within 45 days after we receive your completed contract. The funds will be sent electronically as a direct deposit to the entity listed to receive funds.

Do we have to complete a Final Report? When is it due?
Yes, every grantee must complete the online Final Report on the grant activities and expenditures.

The report is due within 30 days after the completion of the Festival or no later than September 30, 2020 (Spring/Summer 2018 festivals) or April 30, 2021 (Fall/Winter festivals).

Festivals that fail to submit a Final Report will not be eligible to apply for another Mass Cultural Council grant in a future year until the report has been completed.

Where do I find the Final Report?
The Final Report is accessible from the same site as the application.

Who can I contact for more information?
Please contact Lisa Simmons, Program Manager, at 617-858-2707.

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