The Grant Cycle
A Council Program is a project conceived of, planned, and implemented by the LCC that is related to the arts, humanities, and sciences that serves public benefit in the respective LCC’s community. The Council Program may be a part of a larger event that is already established, such as an annual town or citywide festival or exhibition or may be a new initiative introduced to the municipality by the LCC. Partnerships with community-based organizations, collectives, and individuals are encouraged when developing Council Programs.
An LCC may spend up to 20% of its state allocation each funding cycle to support their Council Program. Council Programs respond to cultural needs that are not otherwise being addressed in the community and are informed by feedback from the LCC’s annual community input outreach, as well as other community engagement efforts. LCCs are strongly encouraged to create a process that asks members of their community for specific suggestions for projects or to elicit feedback on proposed projects.
The dollars approved for Council Programs come directly from the LCC’s annual allocation and are reimbursement based. Council Programs are subject to the same eligibility, review criteria, and restrictions listed in the LCC Program Guidelines.
- Council Program funds cannot be spent on administrative expenses, such as paid administrative staff, grantee receptions, or standard LCC publicity efforts.
- Funds raised from Council Programs must be kept in the LCC’s municipal account and treated as locally-raised revenue.
- Council Program funds cannot be spent on salaries or stipends for LCC members.
- Council Program funds cannot be set aside “just in case” and must be spent prior to the next grant cycle. Unspent funds must be treated as unencumbered funds and must be granted out according to Mass Cultural Council’s timeline and process.
- Council Program funds cannot be used to fund late or ineligible grant applications. These funds are intended for use in programming and activities organized by the LCC itself.
- Each member of the LCC must carefully follow the conflict of interest procedures. This information is not intended as legal advice, and only serves as general guidance on how to comply with the conflict-of-interest law. Conflict of interest law includes the prohibition of using one’s LCC position to obtain benefits for oneself or others. This means that Council Programs cannot create foreseeable opportunities for compensated work that LCC members then take advantage of. Examples include:
- If an LCC is organizing a festival, an LCC member who is a musician cannot then become a paid performer for that festival.
- If an LCC creates a program that requires the support of a paid administrator, an LCC member cannot then assume that position once it is created.
In addition to oneself, each LCC member must be careful if family members, an organization a member is affiliated with, or business partners have a potential financial interest in LCC programming. If a conflict of interest situation arises for any LCC member, they should obtain legal advice prior to engaging in any conduct which might violate the conflict of interest law. The Commission’s Legal Division is available to provide free, confidential legal advice to any LCC member during business hours every weekday at 617-371-9500.
Before the application deadline, consider talking with Mass Cultural Council staff about your planned program. While not required, it’s good to get feedback.
When developing an idea, keep these things in mind:
- Why do you want to create this project? Is it informed by community members? In what way?
- How is this project benefiting the community?
- Does this project respond to a specific, unmet public cultural need in the community?
- What kind of support does the LCC have from the community and municipal government? Are there opportunities to work with community-based partners on this project?
- Is the LCC collaborating with any other organizations or communities?
- Does this project require additional funds? LCCs can only set aside 20% of their state allocation for a Council Program. If your project requires additional funding, the LCC will need to come up with a fundraising plan.
- Projects take teamwork and time. Do you have buy-in from all members on the LCC? Have you created a timeline, identified tasks, and distributed responsibilities among all members?
- Publicity is important, both before and after the project happens. Connect with your broader community networks to spread the word. Invite local officials to attend the event; call your Mass Cultural Council staff contact to help with legislative invitations. And don’t forget to have fun!
LCCs do not complete an application or submit a proposal to access these funds. Instead, LCCs should calculate the amount of funds they plan to use for Council Programs at the beginning of each grant cycle. That amount will be recorded when LCCs calculate the amount available for granting in their annual Financial Report. This amount must not exceed 20% of the state allocation from Mass Cultural Council.
LCCs should notify their municipal fiscal officer of the program so that they will be aware that LCC members will be reimbursed for program expenses. LCC members cannot receive compensation but can receive reimbursement for expenses. Each LCC and their municipality should determine specific policies and procedures for reimbursing members for expenses.
Any unspent state funds set aside for Council Programs may not be encumbered during the following grant cycle and must be regranted.
Accessing the Funds
The funds for programming must be kept in the LCC’s municipal account and can be accessed as:
- Direct payments to third-party vendors.
- Reimbursement to LCC members for expenses related to the project.
The expenditure of these funds may fall under municipal procurement requirements (such as requiring bids from multiple vendors, requiring payments upon completion of service, etc.). LCCs undertaking their own programming work closely with the municipality to establish specific processes for expending and tracking Council Program funds from Mass Cultural Council.
For Mass Cultural Council to understand the impact these funds and the LCC activities have on communities, LCCs who use state funds to support their programs must complete a Council Program final report by January 17 of the following grant year. Final reports must be emailed to the LCC’s Mass Cultural Council staff contact.