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Is there an information session about the program?
Yes, on February 4, 2021 at 4pm. It will be recorded and available for viewing on the Festivals Application Process page afterwards.

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.”

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. After the deadline has passed you cannot make any changes to your application.

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 and enter the email address that was used to set up your organization profile.

Is there an application deadline?
Yes, it is March 15, 2021 at 5pm (ET).

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?
Only if you are an unincorporated organization. You will need to apply for the grant through a fiscal agent. The funds would go directly to your fiscal agent and then be disbursed from that organization.

Non-profit 501c3 organizations and municipal entities do not need a fiscal agent and grant payments can only be made to the applicant, not a third party entity.

What are considered General Operating Expenses?
General operating support is anything related to the operations of your organization  – i.e. payroll, rent, insurance, cost of development materials and mailings, etc. Your request should be focused on all the costs associated with holding an In-Person or Online Festival OR for a specific Festival Audience Development and Engagement activities.  If you are not holding an In-Person or Online Festival, or you do not have a specific Festival Audience Development and Engagement activities taking place, you cannot request a grant for general, organizational operating costs.

What can we include in our request and spend grant funds on?
Festival grant funding must be used for costs specific to the implementation of the proposed festival or the proposed audience development and engagement activities and incurred during the funding period. You can include administrative, staff, and overhead costs related to these activities. Review the guidelines for a list of examples of eligible expensesThe following expenses are not allowed are:

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

What are examples of creative approaches to programming?

What do you mean by audience development?
Audience development is the process of reaching new audiences and deepening connections with existing ones. It involves finding ways to understand audience behavior (data collection processes), coming up with new ways to promote your program to newly identified audiences, and moving one-time audiences to repeat and engaged audience members. Understanding who is not coming to your festival and developing a plan to reach those audiences.

What do you mean by audience engagement?
Audience engagement is an important measure of how effectively your content (festival) attracts your audience. It is a way for you to understand the interest and involvement of audiences and can help you determine what parts of your festival audiences are most engaged. Audience engagement can be measured in many different ways from surveys, to focus groups, to exit polls, website analytics, with the goal of creating meaningful interactions with your audiences.

What are some examples of audience engagement programs?
Here are few examples of Boston Book Festival’s audience engagement programs that looked at in-person interaction and/or connections to current events:

  • One City One Story – 20,000 copies of a specially commissioned story are handed out for free in locations throughout Boston. At the festival there is a culminating session with the Once City One Story author.
  • BBF Book Hunt – Packages containing a book by festival author and a letter about the author’s session at the festival are hidden all over the city. BBF encourages people to find them and post a photo on social media.
  • At Home Boston – At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown BBF solicited micro-essays (200 words or less) from people in Greater Boston about what they were experiencing; topics shifted as the months passed. These essays were posted on social media and the BBF website and a few were published by the Boston Globe. They will be archived as part of a national project with Northeastern University.

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 it.

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, 2021.

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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