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Cultural Investment Portfolio

Application Process

The Cultural Investment Portfolio provides operational support grants to more than 340 Massachusetts-based, cultural organizations with year-round operations that have public cultural programming in the arts, humanities, or sciences. These unrestricted funds continue to support economic growth within the cultural sector. These organizations have earned their support from the Portfolio through a long and consistent history of successful applications in a competitive process.

Please note: There are changes coming to the Cultural Investment Portfolio.

The information below is for Portfolio grants awarded for FY24. Guidelines for the revised Portfolio and the new application process are currently being drafted, and this page will be updated in Spring 2024 for funding starting in FY25.

If your organization receives Portfolio support, you reapply by continuing to meet eligibility requirements, and by meeting all annual report requirements by the annual deadlines to avoid penalties.

How to Apply

  1. Find out if your organization is currently receiving a Portfolio grant. If not, check out our Programs At-a-Glance to see other funding opportunities.

  3. Watch a presentation explaining the FY24 annual reporting requirements. The recording is captioned.


  4. Continue to meet Portfolio program guidelines and grant requirements as outlined below.


Program Guidelines


Please also see the “Temporary Changes to Grant Requirements” below.

Portfolio support is available to the following:

  • Fully-cultural organizations: You must be a Massachusetts recognized 501(c)3 organization. Your primary mission must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or sciences.
  • Cultural Affiliates: This is the name that is given to semi-independent programs that operate under a non-cultural parent organization. The primary mission must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or sciences.

Portfolio 501(c)3 organizations must:

  • Offer public cultural programming in Massachusetts every year and maintain year-round operations in Massachusetts.
  • Have a 501(c)3 designation with the Internal Revenue Service which is currently active.
  • If you are incorporated outside of Massachusetts, you must have a current certificate of registration from the Secretary of the Commonwealth to operate as foreign corporation within Massachusetts.
  • Be a “fully-cultural” organization, or a Cultural Affiliate (both are defined above).
  • Have minimum annual cash expenses of $50,000 based on a three-year average.

Portfolio Cultural Affiliates must meet these additional requirements:

  • Manage your own budget.
  • Have at least one full-time (min. 30 hours per week) compensated administrative staff position dedicated solely to operation of the cultural entity.
  • Have your own advisory board that meets regularly to discuss policy, strategic direction, and resource development plans to ensure long-term sustainability.

Fiscal Agents/Fiscal Sponsors

Organizations using the services of fiscal agents or fiscal sponsors are not eligible for Portfolio grants. These organizations might be eligible to apply for Festivals & Projects grants. Portfolio grantees may act as Fiscal Agents/Sponsors for other organizations. The funds under fiscal agents/sponsors must be reported as “pass through monies” on your DataArts report, and are not included in your cash expenses as part of the Formula.

Grant Amount

See the “Temporary Changes to Grant Requirements” below for updated information.

Portfolio grants are based on a formula. The formula is calculated on the following:

  • A three-year average of your cash expenses as reported in the DataArts Cultural Data Profile
  • Equity Impact Points: for organizations that are in, or are centered on, historically under-resourced communities.
  • The total funds allocated to the Cultural Investment Portfolio by Mass Cultural Council based on our annual legislative appropriation.

Portfolio grants include these additional restrictions:

  • For Cultural Affiliates, the grant contract will be with the parent organization and the grant is restricted to the activities of the Cultural Affiliate.
  • The maximum grant amount for a Cultural Affiliate is one-third of the largest grant amount for the Portfolio. For example, if the largest Portfolio grant awarded in a fiscal year is $60,000, the largest Cultural Affiliate grants will not exceed $20,000.
  • No single parent organization will receive more than $30,000 in Cultural Investment Portfolio funding. For example: if a college has several programs that receive Portfolio and Festivals & Projects grants, the total will not be more than $30,000.
  • Media organizations (such as community access television stations): To be considered a “fully-cultural” organization, you must meet the following eligibility criteria: Over 50% of programming time must be arts, humanities, or sciences programming produced by or for the applicant. This includes original creative content, original documentary content, original arts and culture programming. Calculation of eligibility should only count the original broadcast, not re-broadcast.
  • Cash expenses are verifiable by audit, IRS form 990, and/or filings with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Cash expenses do not include in-kind support, fiscal sponsorship monies, grant making expenses, or other pass-through funds.
  • Intentional misrepresentation of finances, as it may affect the formula, is cause for cancellation of Mass Cultural Council grants and deletion from the Cultural Investment Portfolio.


If a current Portfolio grantee merges with, or is taken over by another organization or program, the new organization will be reviewed to ensure that its mission, organizational structure, and programming are eligible for Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) funding. Please contact CIP staff early in the merger to determine CIP funding implications, which could include a decrease to, or elimination of your CIP grant. For recently merged organizations, a site visit is strongly recommended in the year following the merger.

Grant Requirements

Temporary changes to Grant Requirements, due to COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Compliance Requirements
    • If a grantee organization falls below $50,000 in formula expenses due to their FY20 or FY21 financial data as reported in their DataArts Funder Report, that organization will not be suspended from the Portfolio as is currently stated in the guidelines. Contact CIP staff to determine funding implications.
    • If a grantee organization is considering eliminating public programming due to COVID-19 concerns, we encourage you to contact CIP Staff to discuss eligible programming, and to determine funding implications.
  • Grant Amount
    • Requirements for 1:1 match have not changed.

Portfolio grants recipients must complete the annual reporting requirements to be eligible for a grant in the next year.

The following reporting requirements MUST be completed by 11:59pm (ET) on June 3, 2024 to avoid penalties to your grant for the following year.

If you do not complete all of the requirements by the deadline, there will be a 25% penalty to your grant for the following year. You have an extension June 10, 2024. If you still haven’t completed your requirement by this time, your organization will be suspended and not eligible to receive a grant for the following fiscal year.


See the “Temporary Changes to Grant Requirements” above for updated information.

Portfolio grantees are required to provide an annual financial report as part of the annual reporting requirements. Currently, this is accomplished by completing the DataArts Cultural Data Profile (CDP) Survey each year. This is an online financial management, data collection, and research tool. The CDP Survey is based on your most recently completed fiscal year.

Your DataArts Requirement is complete once you have done the following:

  • Created a new CDP Survey and entered data for your most recently completed fiscal year.
  • Generated a CIP Funder Report which includes the most recent 3 years of data.
  • Received staff approval of your Funder Report. Your Funder Report is reviewed by staff for completion and accuracy of data. If there are errors or omissions, you will be required to make changes and generate a new Funder Report. You have not completed the requirement until this step is completed.

Month Deadline: Each Portfolio grantee has a month deadline, based on your organization’s fiscal year end. This is the month that you are expected to complete the DataArts requirement. Typically, the Month Deadline is no later than nine months after your fiscal year ends. We will work with you to set a deadline that your organization will be able to meet.

Please note: the CDP Survey only collects historic data; you do not enter data for a fiscal year that has not closed. This means that the fiscal year has ended and you have completed your 990 and audit for that year.

  • If your organization receives an annual audit or review, you will work from your finalized, board-approved versions.
  • If your organization is not reviewed or audited annually, you will work from their finalized, board-approved year-end financial statements.
  • If your organization is an arts program/department within a larger institution (a “Cultural Affiliate”), it should enter data based on internal financial statements for the program/department only. It should not include financial or programmatic information for the larger institution.

All Portfolio grantees should include a balance sheet in the CDP Survey, even if the organization is not audited.

Your organization must complete a new CDP Survey annually. Contact your CIP staff contact if you have questions about which fiscal year you are required to use for your report.

CIP Annual Report

The CIP Annual Report serves as a confirmation of your organization’s ongoing eligibility for Portfolio grants. It acts both as a final report for the current year, and as the ‘application’ for funding for the following year. It contains:

  • Organization Review

An opportunity for you to share concerns, or significant changes to your mission, programming, staffing, or board. It also includes a few statistical data points which the National Endowment for the Arts requires Mass Cultural Council to collect from grantees.

  • Attestations

Confirmation that your organization has completed its contractual requirements in the following areas (see below for more information):

  • Advocacy
  • Acknowledgement of funding
  • Policies
    • Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy
    • Board and organization ethics and best practices
    • Compliance with state and federal regulations that bar discrimination

To encourage the state’s continued support, we ask that grantees advocate on behalf of the cultural sector by explaining to legislators, in concrete and personal terms, the social and economic benefit of supporting a vibrant cultural community.

Portfolio grantees are required to complete two advocacy activities per year.

You need to connect with a member of the State government (not the Federal government), to tell them about the importance of supporting the cultural sector. This could be a current State Senator, a State Representative, the Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, or a member of their staff. These are all people who play a part in the state budget process.

You need to talk about the cultural sector as a whole, not just your organization.

This needs to be direct contact, not simply attending an event that includes members of the Legislature.

Grant recipients are required to credit Mass Cultural Council for funding.  Attachment D of your Contract Package or the online Credit and Publicity Kit has more details.

Your organization has a policy on Sexual Harassment, and your Board of Directors annually approves an organization policy on ethics and best practices for boards. This needs to be formally approved by your Board, and you will need to provide the date that the board voted.

An organization that cannot attest to fulfilling these requirements as of the reporting deadline will have a “Hold” on their grant contract for the following year.

Compliance with state and federal regulations that bar discrimination: Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are contractually committed to abide by state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities. Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can provide for both the public and the grantee. Resources and additional are available as part of Mass Cultural Council’s Access policy. 


Portfolio grants are subject to a 1:1 Match requirement. Matching funds may include earned revenue or private funds donated to your organization. The following may NOT be used as matching funds: In-kind contributions, other sources of public funding (i.e.: Local Cultural Council grants, Mass Humanities grants), and/or proceeds from the sale of collections.


Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are contractually committed to abide by state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities. Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can provide for both the public and the grantee. Resources and additional are available as part of Mass Cultural Council’s Access policy.

Compliance Requirements

See the “Temporary Changes to Grant Requirements” above for updated information.


An organization can be removed from the Cultural Investment Portfolio for the following reasons:

  • A grantee organization that is suspended for two years in a row (ex: an organization that misses the final reporting deadline two years in a row, or falls below $50,000 in formula expenses for two years in a row.)
  • Elimination of public programming
  • Changes to the organization that make the organization ineligible for funding (ex: losing your tax-exempt status, or moving principle operations out of state)
  • Intentional misrepresentation of finances, programming, or other eligibility requirements
  • Changes in mission and/or programming to non-eligible activities
  • Changes to mission and/or programming that deviate significantly from the mission and programming that were in place when the organization was admitted into the Portfolio, either through Gateway, or the Council’s discontinued competitive Operating Support Program. Organizations making such changes will be reviewed, and might be required to re-apply to the Portfolio. Organizations contemplating such changes are encouraged to contact CIP staff to determine funding implications.
  • An organization will be subject to review and possible removal from the Portfolio if a situation arises that creates grave concerns about an organization’s ability to effectively and ethically operate. These concerns could include but are not limited to the following:
    • Violation of ethics and standards as determined by professional associations in an organization’s field or discipline
    • Operations in violation of the provisions governing the operations of public charities


Under certain circumstances, Mass Cultural Council may place a “hold” on your grant contract/grant payment. This means that you won’t receive your grant contract until you are in compliance with necessary grant requirements and program guidelines. This is separate from any penalties for late compliance. Reasons for contract holds include:

  • Grantee hasn’t fulfilled Portfolio engagement requirement in a timely manner.
  • Grantee has outstanding requirements for other Mass Cultural Council grant programs: There will be a hold on your contract if you have not completed final reports or other requirements to other Mass Cultural Council grant programs, including YouthReach grants.
  • Changes to the DataArts Funder Report: You might be required to make changes to your Funder Report after the staff has reviewed it. If you have not made the necessary changes, including generating an updated Funder Report, your next contract will be held until you do so. This might result in changes to your grant amount.
  • Mass Cultural Council may hold a contract for other reasons but will communicate with you on what needs to be resolved in order to receive your contract/funding. Resolution of the hold might prompt additional inquiry or action.


Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, discontinue funding, or apply restrictions to the use of Portfolio grant funds if a grantee does not notify Mass Cultural Council of significant organizational changes, cannot carry out stated mission, or if it demonstrates inadequate financial management and oversight. The notification must be made in writing, and must provide reasonable advanced notice. In cases where a Portfolio grantee experiences serious organizational capacity issues, Mass Cultural Council will work with that organization to address the challenge.


See the “Temporary Changes to Grant Requirements” above for updated information.

Mass Cultural Council may suspend a grantee from the Portfolio if you do not meet annual grant requirements. You will not receive a contract or a grant for the contract year. If your organization is suspended for two consecutive years, your organization will be removed from the Portfolio. An organization that wants to return to the Portfolio will need to reapply through Gateway.

Reasons for suspension include:

  • Your organization has not resolved a contract hold.
  • Your organization temporarily fails to meet eligibility requirements (for example: temporary suspension of public programming, CIP formula expenses drop below $50,000).
  • Your organization does not complete the reporting requirements (DataArts and/or CIP Annual Report) by the extension deadline.

If your organization is suspended, you must continue to meet eligibility requirements and complete all annual reporting requirements for the following year, even though you will not receive a grant.

Reconsideration Policy

You may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision if you can show that Mass Cultural Council did not follow published guidelines and procedures. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an award is not grounds for reconsideration. You must send a written request to Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director within 30 days of the date of notification of the decision. Any request will be reviewed by Mass Cultural Council Grants Committee and the Council.

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