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BAMS festival. Image by Jen Vesp.


Application Process

Projects grants provide a 1-year grant to support cultural projects that benefit the public. In order to respond to the unique needs of the cultural sector during these challenging times, applicants can either apply for a project grant for public programming OR for an organizational investment. Unlike the CIP Portfolio and Gateway Programs, these awards do not provide general operating support. Projects grantees will receive a grant of either $1,000 or $2,500 to support a specific project.

A cultural organization is not eligible for a Projects grant if it will receive Portfolio or Gateway funding in FY21.

How to Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines below and the FAQs. Please read them carefully as they have changed from previous years.


  2. Watch the recorded information session and/or attend office hours.


  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 March 2, 2021 at 11:59pm (ET).


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


FY21 Program Guidelines

Applicant Eligibility

Who can apply?

  • Massachusetts organizations with a 501(c)3 designation with the Internal Revenue Service which is currently active
  • Programs under a federal, state, or local government
  • Applicants using a fiscal agent: Massachusetts based unincorporated group/association with a non-profit objective, or a Massachusetts based corporation in the process of obtaining a 501(c)3 designation.
    • Fiscal agents can either be municipal entities or non-profit entities incorporated in Massachusetts or registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Massachusetts.
    • If you are thinking about using a fiscal agent, you are encouraged to talk with Mass Cultural Council staff before you submit your application.

To be eligible to apply, you must:

Note: A Parent Organization of a CIP Cultural Affiliate may also apply to Projects for a separate program. The maximum total combined grant amount of $30,000 to any Parent Organization still applies.

Project Eligibility

  • Your Project must have minimum cash expenses of $2,000 to qualify for a grant of $1,000, or minimum cash expenses of $5,000 to qualify for a grant of $2,500. Your application should only include the cash expenses. You can describe in-kind goods and services in the text, but do not include them in the budget.
  • Your Project must take place between June 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021. You can start planning or spending before June 1, but do not include those costs in your application. Make sure that you explain this.
  • Your Project may be in-person, virtual, broadcast/streaming, or a combination of these.
  • All eligible applicants may apply for a project grant for:
    • Public Programming: programs and events, whether in-person or virtual. Examples include projects in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences, such as performances, education programs, or events.
  • Applicants with a primary mission in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences can choose to apply for in internally focused project instead to enhance their ability to provide public benefit:
    • Organization Investment: projects that build capacity for organizations. Examples include investment in staff training and supplies so that the organization can produce virtual/online programs; developing health protocols for welcoming employees and the public back into your physical spaces, investment in staff capacity to help an organization be effective in changed settings, such as DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access) training, strategic planning, other work that enables the applicant to improve its ability to serve its mission.

Public Programming: Your eligible Project must meet these guidelines:

  • Your Project must have the goal of providing access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences.
  • The Project is the work of an organization, not an individual.
  • If your Project is for in-person programming, you musthave a plan for it to be delivered virtually if state guidelines do not permit in-person events.
  • 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.

Organization Investment: For applicants whose primary mission is arts, sciences, or humanities, your eligible Project must meet these guidelines:

  • The Project is for organization development, not for professional development for individual employees.
  • The goal of the Project is to improve the organization’s ability to deliver future programming.

The following types of activities ARE NOT ELIGIBLE for Projects grants:

  • Fundraising activities, fundraising plans, and marketing plans.
  • 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 cost of more than $1000. Examples include equipment, such as lighting or sound equipment, new construction, or the renovation of a cultural facility. Supplies, and small equipment purchases (items under $1,000) are allowed.
  • 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, do not include this in your project budget.
  • Religious organizations or groups with a religious affiliation are eligible to apply for funding of cultural programming that is available to the general public, primarily cultural in intent, and does not have the effect of advancing religion.
  • Other projects that do not meet the definition of Public Programming, Organization Investment, or a ‘project’ (see description above). If you are not 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:

  • The Project and its goals are clearly defined (20%)
  • The Project is appropriately designed to meet its goals (20%)
  • The Project has at least one strategy for promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and/or access with a specific goal that is measurable, achievable, and appropriate to the project. (20%)
  • The Project’s budget is appropriate to the project (10%)
  • The applicant has not received a Project Grant before (10%)
  • The applicant’s mission is primarily focused on (20%):
    • Presenting, promoting, and/or preserving the cultural traditions, art, history, and creative expression of people of color, women, people with disabilities, veterans, people who are LGBTQIA+, under-resources rural communities, and members of other historically underrepresented and underfunded groups, or,
    • Advancing and or supporting artists who are people of color, women, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQIA+, and members of other underrepresented and underfunded groups.

Geographic distribution: To ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region in proportion to the region’s application demand. The regions are as follows:

  • Greater Boston
  • Central
  • Metrowest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Western

For example, if applications from the Southeast region make up 15% of the total applications received, the Southeast region will be allocated roughly 15% of the grants made.

Within each region, awards will be made to eligible applicants based on the score their application received using the above criteria.

Award Amount and Funding Period

We will make awards in two amounts:

  • $1000 grants to support projects with cash expenses of $2,000 – $4,999
  • $2,500 grants to support projects with cash expenses of $5,000 or more

This is a one-year grant for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), which ends on June 30, 2021.

Grant Requirements

Matching Funds

Projects grants are subject to a 1:1 Match Requirement. This means that you must match the amount of the grant ($1,000 or $2,500) with an equal amount of funds 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 must engage in an advocacy activity. Complete the requirement and report it in your Final Report. Learn more about Advocacy Requirements.

Reporting Requirements

Project grantees must submit a Final Report by June 30, 2021.

Acknowledgement of Funding

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

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination Policies

Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensure that all personnel and service programs, policies, and practices will be formulated and conducted in a manner which will ensure equal access for all people and prevent discrimination not only as a matter of law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth’s population in Mass Cultural Council programs and services.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer applicants/grantees alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact our staff for help.

Mass Cultural Council is dedicated to creating a workplace, programs, and services that welcome, respect, and value people of all races, color, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religions, creeds, ancestry, national origin, disability, and veteran status. Mass Cultural Council will not fund any organization or program that discriminates based on these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs, and services removing any barriers to accessibility. Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to comply with:

Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract (see contract requirements) 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 support both the public and the grantee. Additional information about Mass Cultural Council’s Accessibility Requirements and Compliance Tools for Grantees are located in our Access Policy.

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.

Reconsideration Policy

An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on their application if the applicant can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the results of a review does not constitute grounds for reconsideration.

The first step in the reconsideration process is to consult with the appropriate Program Staff to discuss the review process that concluded in the Mass Cultural Council’s decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director, in writing, within 30 days of the Mass Cultural Council’s notification to the applicant of its decision.


Application Forms Online January 25, 2021
Information Session February 3, 2021
Office Hours for Applicants February 16-24, 2021
Application Deadline March 2, 2021 at 11:59pm (ET)
Notification to Applicants TBD

For FY21 Project grantees:

FY21 Contract Due April 15, 2021
Final Report Due June 30, 2021, 11:59pm (ET)
An exception can be made for projects taking place during late June 2021
Future Application Deadlines TBD

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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