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BAMS festival. Image by Jen Vesp.


Application Process

One impact of a late FY21 state budget is that Mass Cultural Council’s spending plan for the coming fiscal year will also be delayed. Grant application processes that normally open in the late spring and summer will be paused until we are able to develop a responsible FY21 spending plan, which is dependent upon our state budget appropriation.

To receive updates on our FY21 grant application processes, sign up to receive e-news updates from  Mass Cultural Council.​

Projects grants support cultural projects that benefit the public. These grants are not for general operating support. This is a one-year grant. It is an option if you are not eligible for Gateway grants, or if you looking for one-year project support. Projects grantees receive a grant of $2,500 for a specific project.

You are not eligible for a Projects grants if you will receive Portfolio or Gateway funding in FY20.

How to Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines below.


  2. Listen to an informational webinar and check out the sample application (PDF).


  3. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, SerHacer, YouthReach, Festivals, and/or Cultural Facilities Fund applications can all be used.)

  4. Complete and submit the online application by May 1, 2019 at 11:59:59 EDT.


Questions? Contact Sara S. Glidden, Program Manager, at 617-858-2710.


FY20 Program Guidelines

Who can apply?

  • Massachusetts recognized 501(c)3 organizations
  • Programs under a federal, state, or local government
  • You can use a fiscal agent if your group is not incorporated. You can also use a fiscal agent if you are eligible to be a federally tax exempt, 501(c)3 nonprofit but do not yet have your tax exempt status. If you are thinking about using a fiscal agent, you must talk with Mass Cultural Council staff before you submit your application.

To be eligible to apply, you must:

Your eligible Project must meet these guidelines:

  • The project is the work of an organization, not an individual.
  • Your Project must have minimum cash expenses of $5,000.
  • Your Project must take place between June 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020. You can start planning or spending before June 1, but don’t include those costs in your application. Make sure that you explain this.
  • Your Project must have the goal of providing access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences
  • Your application should only include the cash expenses. You can describe in-kind goods and services in the text, but don’t include them in the budget.
  • Projects grants support a specific, connected set of activities. These activities have a beginning and an end, explicit objectives, and a set cost. This might be an aspect of the organization’s cultural activities, such as a one-time event; a single production; an exhibition; a workshop; or series of related arts activities, such as art classes or training sessions. A Project may be a one-time activity. Or it can be a program that you repeat for multiple years.

The following types of activities are not eligible for Projects grants:

  • Projects that are the complete public programming activity of the applicant.
  • Fundraising activities, strategic planning, and capacity building activities.
  • Projects designed to create a surplus or profit for the organization.
  • Programming outside of Massachusetts.
  • Capital expenses: A capital expense is defined as an item, or group of items, with a life expectancy of more than three years and a total cost of more than $500. Examples include equipment, such as lighting or sound equipment, new construction or the renovation of a cultural facility.
  • Competitions where the sole purpose of the program is to judge cultural works.
  • Projects that are for or by students as part of the activities of a college or school. Some of the project may be student-focused, but most of it must serve the greater community outside of the school.
  • Applications where the purpose is to “re-grant” or award funds using some or all of the Project grant in the form of scholarships or other prizes. If you are giving cash prizes, don’t include this in your project budget.
  • Other projects that do not meet the definition of public programming, or a ‘project’ (see description above). If you aren’t sure about your project, you should contact us.


Review Criteria

Your application will be reviewed by an independent panel. It will be scored according to the following criteria:

  • Quality of the project
    • Project description, clear plan, specific goals. (15 points)
    • How does this relate to your mission and other programming? (15 points)
  • Public value
    • How does this benefit the community? This can include the general public, the artists, or a specific target audience. (25 points)
    • How do you reach out to diverse communities?. This can include ethnically and economically diverse, rural, elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities. (10 points)
  • Organization’s ability to carry out the project.
    • Appropriate staff to develop and implement project. (10 points)
    • Financial skill and health (clear budget, good explanation of budget, organization capacity). (10 points)
    • Evidence of strong planning (timeline, marketing, evaluation, past success). (15 points)


 Grant Requirements

  • Project grantees must submit a Final Report by June 1, 2020.
  • Advocacy: You must engage in an advocacy activity. Complete the requirement and report it in your Final Report. Learn more about Advocacy Requirements.
  • Match: Projects grants are subject to a 1:1 Match Requirement. This means that at least $2,500 to pay for your project has to come from other sources. Your matching funds may include earnings from ticket sales, fees, ad sales, or donations from businesses, or other supporters. You may use funds from your reserves, or other operating support. You may not use in-kind donations as matching funds. You may not use other State funds for your match (example: Local Cultural Council)
  • Acknowledgement of Funding: You must credit the Mass Cultural Council for funding.  Refer to Attachment D of your Contract Package or the online Credit and Publicity Kit for more details. You will be asked to confirm compliance with the Mass Cultural Council’s Credit and Publicity Agreement in your Final Report.
  • Accessibility: The 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. The Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. The 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 on the Mass Cultural Council’s website.


Contract Holds, Penalties, and Restrictions
The Mass Cultural Council may apply a contract hold, penalty, or restriction if you are not in compliance with necessary grant requirements. You might not be able to apply for grants in the future if you do not meet your grant requirements.



Application Forms Online Late March 2019
Application Deadline TBD
Notification to Applicants TBD

For FY20 Project grantees:

FY19 Contract Due Jan. 31, 2020
Final Report Due June 1, 2020, 11:59 PM EDT
An exception can be made for projects taking place during June 2020.
Future Application Deadlines Annually in the Spring

Reconsideration Policy
You may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision if you can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council did not follow published guidelines and procedures. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an award does not constitute grounds for reconsideration. A written request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director within 30 days of the date of notification of the decision. Such requests will be reviewed by the Mass Cultural Council Grants Committee and the Council.

The Cultural Investment Portfolio staff is available as a resource to answer questions about eligibility, requirements, deadlines, and compliance.

Proceed to the Online Application

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