Cultural Facilities Fund
How To Apply
Read the program guidelines, then review specific Capital grants requirements below.
Watch a recording or view the slide deck from the information session webinar or drop-in on our virtual office hours to ask staff questions.
Learn more about requesting an accommodation for accessibility or requesting translation services.
Login or create a user profile in the new grants management system. (See details under “Application Instructions” below.)
Take the Eligibility Quiz to begin an application by clicking “Apply Now” under the desired Cultural Facilities Fund grant category.
Complete and submit the online application, including supplementary materials by February, 2, 2023 at 11:59pm (ET).
Capital Grants Guidelines
Goals of the Capital Grants Program
The Capital grants program provides matching grants to assist with the acquisition, final-stage design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation, or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance of cultural facilities in Massachusetts. The goal of this program is to promote the development of cultural facilities that are thoughtfully planned and developed, contribute to the cultural and economic lives of their communities, have a transformative impact on the community, and are supported by significant matching contributions from the private sector.
Types of Projects Funded
The Capital Grant Program offers grants for:
- Site or facility acquisition (provided there is a signed Purchase & Sale Agreement and appropriate business planning is in place).
- Repair, rehabilitation, or renovation of existing facilities. This may include (but is not limited to) efforts to improve physical accessibility, fire safety, and other building health and safety measures.
- New construction/expansion of existing facilities (provided appropriate business planning is in place).
- Final-stage design of new facilities
- Purchase of major equipment or integrated systems. This may include HVAC systems, sound and light systems, rigging or similar equipment, provided that these are fully integrated elements of a building, structure or site and are fixed in place. Mobile goods or equipment, including moveable seating, computers, office equipment and non-fixed display cases, are not eligible for grant reimbursement.
- Any combination of the above.
- New projects that demonstrate a transformative impact on the host community.
Grants in this program may not be used for:
- Capital campaign costs or non-facilities capital campaigns (e.g., endowment campaigns).
- Regular operating activities of an organization.
- Ongoing staff positions.
- Fundraising or marketing activities.
- Any other costs that are not related to the approved Eligible Project.
- Mortgage or loan payments.
- Legal fees.
- Insurance payments.
All organizations that receive grants under this program must certify as part of the Grant Agreement that the project for which the grant is being made complies with, or will comply with upon completion of the project, the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Review Criteria – Capital Grants
Threshold Criteria #1 – Community Impact (Statutory)
As outlined in previous sections, the Cultural Facilities Fund statute establishes five threshold review criteria for all grants. All projects must provide evidence that they meet these statutory criteria to be considered for a Cultural Facilities Fund Grant.
- The project is an “eligible project”
- There must be a demonstrated community need for the project*.
- The project must be able to demonstrate that it will benefit tourism in the local area**.
- There must be a demonstrated financial need for a grant.
- The project must be able to demonstrate local support*.
*Please address “community need” and “local support” in terms of your cultural organization and/or programming.
**Tourism is defined as: “a person traveling 50 miles or more one way to a destination or who stays overnight”.
Threshold Criteria #2 – Financial Capacity
All projects that have demonstrated that they meet the statutory criteria must then demonstrate evidence of financial capacity to undertake and sustain the capital project. The grant review panel will make this determination based on the quality of your responses to the following Financial Capacity criteria and the review of your organizational financials.
Evidence that the proposed facilities project:
- Demonstrates financial capacity to begin the project within 18 months from the application deadline, or by June 2024.
- Has the matching funds committed to the project or demonstrates an ability to raise the match within 18 months of the application deadline. Thoroughly analyzes the impact the capital project will have on the organization’s future finances if expanding square footage or programming.
- Has capital reserves in place or demonstrates an ability to successfully fund depreciation.
All projects that have demonstrated that they meet the above statutory and financial capacity threshold criteria will then be reviewed by the grant panel on the quality of the project’s planning, transformative impacts and implementation.
Evidence that the proposed facilities project:
- Is integral to the mission and to an overall strategic organizational plan.
- Is appropriately sized, relative to the capacity and needs of the organization.
- Is justified by evidence of market demand (for projects that either expand programming or square footage, or both.)
- Addresses the impact the capital project will have on the organization’s future operations.
- Is in the context of an overall capital needs assessment, maintenance plan and/or replacement schedule.
Evidence that the proposed facilities project:
- Includes a project budget that identifies all sources of funding, and articulates whether they are committed, pending, and/or projected.
- Includes a project budget where the project costs are prioritized and informed by professional third-party bids.
- Evidence that a project can begin and the match can be raised within 18 months of the application deadline, or by June 2023.
- Has identified and/or hired the project’s leadership and key contracted personnel and demonstrated they have the appropriate skills and capacity to implement the project.
A complete application constitutes the submission of the online application, including supplementary materials by the final deadline of February 2, 2023 at 11:59pm (ET).
All applicants should submit their applications through the online system. To create a 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.
I. Eligibility Quiz
Cultural Facilities Fund applications no longer have an Intent to Apply process. The first step to beginning an application is taking the Eligibility Quiz. This will ensure your organization is eligible to apply to this program.
If your organization is eligible, the next page will bring you to the full application.
You do not need approval from Mass Cultural Council to continue with the application. Mass Cultural Council staff will contact you if any eligibility issues are identified.
If you don’t meet the criteria in the Eligibility Quiz, the grants management system will notify you that this program isn’t a good fit.
- Complete the online application, including any updates or changes to the organization information in your user profile.
- Click the “Submit” button by the deadline, 11:59pm (ET) on February 2, 2023. You will receive an email confirming the submission. If you don’t receive the automated email receipt, go back to ensure the application has been submitted successfully. Be sure to save the PDF summary of your application for your records.
III. Supplementary Materials
- Project Budget: Please list both the “sources” and “uses” of funds in the project budget. In the “source” column indicate whether the funds are: “committed”, “pledged”, or “projected”. In the “use” column indicate whether the costs are based on: a “contractor bid”, “architect estimate”, or “in-house estimate”. In addition, please indicate your most critical needs and less critical needs. See a sample project budget (XLS).
- Timeline for your project: Be sure to include the scope-of-work accompanied by dates.
- Financial Information:
- Audited financial or draft audit statements for the two most recent fiscal years. (If your organization’s annual budget is less than $500,000 and no audited financials are available, please provide the review statement by the accountant or internally prepared income and expense statements and balance sheets for the two most recent years. Audit statements are not required if the applicant is a municipality, but are required for all 501(c)3s including colleges and universities.)
- Year-to-date Income Statements and Balance Sheets since your last audit, accountant’s review or 990.
Municipalities: Facility-specific operating financials for the last two years for the subject facility. Municipal financial audited statements are not required.
Colleges and Universities:
- Audited financial statements for the two most recent fiscal years.
- Facility-specific operating financials for the last two years for the subject facility.
- Copy of the lease, deed, or ground lease for your facility.
- Business plan & strategic plan materials (required for acquisition, expansion of an existing building and/or programs, and new construction).
- Signed Purchase & Sale Agreement (for acquisition projects only).
- Images of the overall site as well as specific areas of work.
Optional Supplementary Materials:
At the end of the application, there will be an optional upload button. Feel free to submit any additional materials you would like to share with the review panel regarding your project and its readiness to proceed.