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Detail of

Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Program

Application Process

How to Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines (below) and FAQs. Preview a sample application (PDF).


  2. Watch the recorded information session and view the slide deck.


  3. Create a username and password to complete your organization profile (Please note: Usernames/Passwords previously created in Mass Cultural Council’s online application system to apply for grants for organization can be used.)

  4. Complete the online application and submit it by December 11, 2020 at 11:59pm (ET).



Join our Office Hours to ask questions about the program or application process, or contact Sara Glidden, Program Manager, Cultural Investment Portfolio using the subject line “Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program”

Program Guidelines

Program Overview
Cultural Organizations have suffered staggering losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related closures. The Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program offers grants to support Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organizations negatively impacted by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Culture is a major contributor to economic growth and opportunity in Massachusetts, investing in the recovery of Cultural Organizations is an investment in the economic recovery of the Commonwealth.

These funds were appropriated through the Commonwealth’s Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) as well as federal monies received through the CARES Act: $2 million from line item 1599-1232 in Section 2A of Massachusetts session law Chapter 124 of the Acts of 2020 which is funded through the federal CARES Act and an additional $8 million from the Commonwealth’s portion of federal CARES Act funding. These funds will be administered by Mass Cultural Council, in partnership with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED).

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicant must be a Massachusetts cultural organization, which is defined as a non-profit corporation:
    • whose mission is primarily concerned with the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences, including but is not limited to, museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, theaters, concert halls, exhibition spaces, classrooms, and auditoriums;
    • that offers public cultural programming in Massachusetts annually and maintains year-round operations in Massachusetts; and
    • has a 501(c)3 designation with the Internal Revenue Service which is currently active.
  • Applicant must be able to document a loss of revenue due to COVID-19 between March 10, 2020 and December 31, 2020 equal to or greater than requested assistance.
  • Applicant must be currently in operation or, if not in operation, must have an intent to reopen.
  • Applicant must have been incorporated prior to 06/30/2019.
  • Ineligible applicants include but are not limited:
    • For-profit entities
    • Unincorporated associations
    • Colleges and Universities
    • Private/Non-profit secondary schools
    • Nonprofit organizations whose mission is not primarily concerned with the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences
    • Municipal entities

Funding Prioritization

Funding is intended to help non-profit cultural organizations adversely impacted by the pandemic. All eligible organizations may apply, preference will be given to cultural organizations:

  • That have been unable to reopen or have been unable to fully reopen.
  • Whose mission is primarily focused on:
  • Presenting, promoting, and/or preserving the cultural traditions, art, history, and creative expression of people of color, women, people with disabilities, veterans, immigrants, people who are LGBTQIA+, 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.
  • That have not received aid from other federal programs related to COVID-19.
  • That operate a cultural facility they own or lease
  • That are located in a Gateway City or in an under-resourced rural town.
  • That support economic recovery through their participation in: State Designated Cultural District, Organization Improvement District (BID), Transformative Development Initiative District.
  • An amount equal to at least $2 million will be awarded to “Small Organizations.”
    • For the purpose of this program Small Organizations are defined as those organizations which have 10 or fewer Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) for calendar year 2019.

Application Submission Instructions
Your application must be filled out and submitted along with attachments as stated in “Required Documentation” electronically through Mass Cultural Council’s online application. Hard copies or electronic copies submitted in any other way, such as mailed in or emailed, will not be considered.

Amount of Funding
Organizations can request a grant of up to the lesser of $100,000 or 3 months of supported operating expenses, as detailed under “Approved Use of Funds” section below and as evidenced by the organization’s 2019 Internal Revenue Service Form 990. (Please read the FAQs for more detailed instructions.)

The maximum grant amount an organization can request is $100,000. Mass Cultural Council and EOHED reserve the right to award less than the amount requested.

On a very limited basis, Mass Cultural Council and EOHED may consider awards exceeding $100,000. Organizations must demonstrate extraordinary need and document that they are facing remarkable challenges that threaten the viability of the organization. These organizations can request up to $500,000 if they can:

    • Clearly articulate the extraordinary need.
    • Demonstrate more than $500,000 in lost revenue (between 3/10/20 and 12/31/20).
    • Demonstrate 3 months of supported operating expenses of at least $500,000, as detailed under “Approved Use of Funds” section below and as evidenced by the organization’s 2019 Internal Revenue Service Form 990.
  • Provide invoice(s) for eligible expenses of at least $500,000 in expenses incurred in any three month period occurring between 3/10/20 and 12/31/20.

Mass Cultural Council and EOHED reserve the right to award less than the amount requested. Awards exceeding $100,000 for extraordinary need, if any, will be awarded at the discretionary judgment of Mass Cultural Council and EOHED.

Approved Use of Funds
Employee payroll and benefit costs, current mortgage payments and mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations. Small Organizations may also use funds for general operations.

Non-Approved Use of Funds

  • Major equipment purchases
  • Construction, purchase, or capital renovation costs of facilities or land
  • Lobbying
  • Compensation to foreign nationals, including traveling to or from foreign countries when those expenditures are not in compliance with regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC Sanctions/NEA guidelines)
  • Visa costs that are paid to the U.S. Government
  • Subgranting or regranting
  • Costs of entertainment, including amusement and social activities such as receptions, parties, galas, dinners, etc., and any associated costs including catering, alcoholic beverages, planning, staffing, supplies, etc.,
  • Rental of any property owned by any individuals or entities affiliated with the non-Federal entity for purposes such as the home office workspace
  • Costs of goods for resale are unallowable. This includes the sale of concessions, promotional merchandise, or items purchased to sell.

Also, grantees must prevent the duplication of benefits, which means these grant funds may not be used to pay expenses if another source of financial aid has paid that same expense.

Award Process
After the application period closes, Mass Cultural Council will review all applications to determine eligibility. Mass Cultural Council will make award recommendations to EOHED based upon eligibility criteria and preference prioritization. EOHED will approve final grant amounts. Mass Cultural Council will administer all grant payments.

Required Documentation
Please be prepared to provide the following for your application:

  • A copy of the Applicant’s 2019 IRS Form 990. If, due to an extension, the applicant has not filed their 2019 IRS Form 990 at the time of application, they may submit their 2018 IRS Form 990.
  • A copy of the invoice(s) for expenses you wish to use these grant funds to cover between March 10, 2020 and December 31, 2020. If you plan to incur expenses between the time of application and December 31, 2020, please describe what that expense will be (in 1-2 sentences) and expect to submit proof that the expense was paid within 45 days of receiving your grant award.

Compliance with Federal Funds, Laws and Regulations

Applicants must comply with all applicable laws.

Language Translations
Program overview information is available in the following languages: (Application will remain in English.)

  • Arabic
  • Guajarati
  • Haitian Creole
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Vietnamese

Send language translation requests to Carmen Plazas no later than November 30, 2020.

Grant Timeline
Application Opens: November 20, 2020
Application Deadline: December 11, 2020
Award Notification: January 2021

About Mass Cultural Council

Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, education, diversity, and inclusion in the arts, humanities, and sciences to foster a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the vitality of our communities and economy.

We pursue this mission through a wide range of grants, initiatives, and advocacy for artists, communities, organizations, and schools. We work with partners in government, the cultural community, and across sectors, to increase public and private investment in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

We believe in the power of culture. Working through the arts, humanities, and sciences, culture is a dynamic force for enriching communities, growing the economy, advancing equity, and fostering individual creativity. Culture is intrinsically valuable and unique in its ability to lift the human spirit.

We recognize the essential role that a rich cultural life plays in communities and the lives of individuals. To invest in our cultural life is to invest in our shared future.

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