Cultural Facilities Fund
What is the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund?
The Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) is a capital grant program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Fund offers grants to help nonprofit cultural organizations plan for, renovate, expand, and repair their facilities. CFF grants help increase contributions from private funding sources. The Fund is a landmark investment in the infrastructure of our state’s cultural resources.
What is the history of the Cultural Facilities Fund?
The Cultural Facilities Fund was passed on July 13, 2006, as one part of a far-reaching economic stimulus bill. The legislation received nearly universal, bipartisan support from the Legislature.
Passage of the legislation marked the successful completion of a campaign for cultural facilities that was spearheaded by the Boston Foundation, Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities (MAASH), and the Mass Cultural Council, and involved hundreds of advocates across the state. The leaders of the campaign are profoundly grateful to the Massachusetts State Legislature for its vision and leadership in the passage of this bill.
How many grants has the Fund awarded?
To date, CFF has funded 1,063 projects totaling $129 million. These grants have been awarded to 488 cultural organizations from every region of the state. The grants include: capital grants of $122.7 million, feasibility & technical assistance grants of $5.5 million, and systems replacement plans grants totaling $576,000.
How much money is available through the Fund this year?
Approximately $10 million will be available in the FY21 grant cycle.
What kinds of grants are available through the Fund?
- Feasibility and Technical Assistance Grants: For planning and feasibility assessment for a proposed eligible project.
- Systems Replacement Plan Grants (SRP): These are a specific type of planning grant designed for small and medium-sized organizations that do not have full-time maintenance staff. The SRP is a 20-year capital needs assessment of the building and its mechanical systems.
- Capital Grants: for the acquisition, design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance (“Eligible Projects”) of a cultural facility. All of the following would qualify for consideration under this description:
- New construction
- Renovations or repairs to an existing structure
- Fixed equipment purchases
- Any combination of the above
What are the grant ranges?
- Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants – up to $50,000
- Systems Replacement Plan Grants – from $7,000 to $12,500
- Capital Grants – have been in the $200,000 range for the past few years
When is the application deadline?
The final application deadline for the FY21 grant cycle is Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:59pm (ET).
Who manages the Fund?
The Fund is administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Mass Cultural Council. A Governor-appointed Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee advises on the operation of the Fund.
MassDevelopment has authority on all matters of Fund administration, including final approval of all grant decisions and is the disbursing agent for the grants.
Mass Cultural Council through a contractual relationship with MassDevelopment, distributes guidelines for the program, offers technical assistance to applicants, and administers the panel review process for the applications.
The Cultural Facilities Advisory Committee is responsible for advising MassDevelopment on the management and operation of the Fund. The Committee consists of nine members, six appointed by the Governor, plus the President and CEO of MassDevelopment, and the Executive Directors of the Mass Cultural Council, and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. The six members appointed by the Governor represent six different geographic regions of the state, as called for in the statute.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Nonprofit cultural organizations – 501 (c)3 organizations that are primarily concerned with the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The legislation includes but is not limited to museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, theaters, concert halls, exhibition spaces, classrooms, and auditoriums. Eligible facilities must be owned, leased or used by one or more nonprofit cultural organizations, and must be accessible to the public.
- Municipalities that own cultural facilities – provided that the cultural facility is at least 50,000 square feet in size, and at least 50% devoted to cultural purposes, provided, however, that if such building, structure, or site is 125 years old or older, and is significant in the history, archeology, architecture, or culture of the nation, the Commonwealth, or the community in which it is located, it may be of any size.
- Public or private institutions of higher education – provided that the cultural facility provides service and open access to the community and the general public beyond their educational mission, and can demonstrate financial need.
Is there a matching requirement?
Yes, a 1:1 cash match. “In kind” donations are not eligible for the match.
Have review criteria been established?
The statute of the Cultural Facilities Fund established five threshold review criteria for all its grants:
- Project must be 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 or loan.
- The project must be able to demonstrate local support.*
* “Community need” and “local support” should be addressed 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”.
Additional criteria is laid out in the program guidelines.
How does the application and grant approval process work?
The Mass Cultural Council administers the application and grant technical assistance process. After grant applications are received, the Mass Cultural Council convenes panels to review all applications. The panel makes funding recommendations to the Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee. In turn, the Advisory Committee makes recommendations for approval to MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors.
Who has previously received grants through the Cultural Facilities Fund?
A project list is available online.
Can I apply to the Fund if I have already received a Cultural Facilities Fund grant?
Yes, organizations that have previously been awarded Cultural Facilities Fund grants can apply to the Fund so long as the prior grant has been fully disbursed or declined and according to a schedule and conditions to be outlined upon availability of funds.
When will the grant awards be announced?
In general, announcements typically come three to four months following the application deadline.