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Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations



How do you define “fully cultural”?
Fully cultural means dedicated to the industries that make up the creative sector of the Massachusetts economy. These industries include arts, humanities, and the interpretive sciences. This can be expressed by your mission statement if you have one, your statement of purpose if you have one, and the work that your organization does.

How do you define arts, sciences, and humanities?
As it relates to this program, Mass Cultural Council uses the following definitions:

The arts are the creation of work in the crafts and performing, visual, media, folk, design, literary, and interdisciplinary arts. They also include the presentation and preservation of, and education about, works in these disciplines.

The humanities are types of learning that deal with human values and aspirations, human thought and culture, language, and creativity. Examples include, but are not limited to, history, social studies, philosophy, criticism, and literature.

The sciences are limited to the cultural, interpretive, and educational expression of science and refers to types of learning that deal with nature, science, and technology in ways that explain how they relate to people’s lives. Some organizations that conduct this type of activity include aquariums, botanical gardens, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, and science centers.

How do you define “publicly available” cultural activity?
Publicly available cultural activity is any in-person or virtual event, learning engagement, performance, or cultural revitalization effort that is available to the general public by paid or free admission.

How do you define “community-based” cultural activity?
Any cultural activity (whether publicly available or not) that focuses on serving the needs of a geographic community, ethnic heritage, or cultural tradition and may include events, education, performances, conservation, or cultural revitalization efforts.

What kinds of organizations, collaboratives, and businesses are eligible?
A broad range of organizations, collaboratives, and businesses are eligible. They may include, but are not limited to, performing arts, museums, libraries, historical societies and commissions, community arts education, language revitalization, media arts. The most important factor for eligibility is whether the organization is fully cultural and falls under one of the eligible types listed in the guidelines.

If you have any questions about whether your organization’s work is eligible for this grant, contact staff before starting the application.

Do I have to offer in-person programming to be eligible?
No, your organization does not have to offer in-person programming to be eligible.

Does my work have to be available for free to be eligible?
No, your organization’s work does not have to be available for free to be eligible.

My organization is not “fully cultural”, but incorporates a creative practice into the work, and does some cultural activities. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, no. There are numerous industries that benefit from creativity. We value the creative energy your organization brings to its work. However, this program’s funding was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature to support the cultural sector. So, while we appreciate your creativity in your respective field, we cannot award grants to organizations, collaboratives, and businesses that are not fully cultural.

I am a fiscally-sponsored organization, how do I measure if the majority of my programming takes place in Massachusetts? We don’t have a facility or office, what address do we provide?
The majority of your programming takes place in Massachusetts if over half of your cultural activities, or services to the cultural sector, are located in Massachusetts. The organization needs to be based in Massachusetts as well, which means that it can provide a Massachusetts address. Because many unincorporated groups do not have a facility, the organization typically provides the address of one of its members/volunteers.

What do you mean by K-12 schools and degree-granting organizations?
This refers to organizations such as public and private schools (pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school education), colleges, and universities. Organizations such as dance schools and community music schools are NOT included in this definition and ARE eligible to apply.

My organization does not have a mission statement, are we still eligible to apply?
Yes, applicants without a mission statement are eligible to apply. If your organization does not have an official mission statement, you will need to provide a statement of purpose, a summary of your organization/business’ cultural activities or services to the cultural sector, and links to a website or social media pages documenting this work in the application.

I am an artist operating a business that is a sole proprietorship. Should I apply as an Organization or Individual?
For the purposes of the Cultural Sector Recovery programs, artists operating a sole proprietorship should apply as Individuals. If selected to receive a grant, you will be required to complete a Massachusetts W-9 form where you can either use your social security number or your business EIN, if you are a sole proprietor, to receive the funds.

My organization was created during the COVID-19 pandemic, am I still eligible for COVID-19 relief?
Yes, organizations established on or after March 31, 2020 are eligible to apply for funding.

If my organization does not fit any of the prioritization categories, are we still eligible to apply?
Yes, all applicants who meet the eligibility criteria should apply.

My organization did not undergo any loss, am I still eligible for COVID-19 relief?
Yes, however, applicants that have demonstrated economic need because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be prioritized in funding determinations.

Support with your Application

Are Mass Cultural Council staff available for questions?
Yes. There will be information sessions for the Pandemic Recovery Grants for Organizations on August 10 and August 11, 2022. There will also be “office hours” where you can join small groups to discuss any of your questions. You can also contact Mass Cultural Council staff for guidance.

What if I have more questions?
Please read about the application process, then contact Mass Cultural Council staff.

Can you translate the guidelines and application into another language?
Yes, Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer translation, interpretation, alternative formats, and other services individuals may need to complete this application. All translations will be done by a third-party service. Translated applications will then be emailed to the applicant by a Mass Cultural Council staff member. The applicant then answers the application questions in their preferred language and emails the completed document back to the staff person before the deadline. Lastly, Mass Cultural Council will have the submitted application translated back into English. Fulfilling a language translation request may take up to 7-10 business days. To ensure your request is fulfilled with enough time to complete and return the application, please submit requests at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. For more information, review the Mass Cultural Council’s Access Policy.

Grants and Timeline

I won’t be able to complete the application by the deadline. Can I get an extension?
Unfortunately, no. The deadline to complete the application is 11:59pm (ET) on September 23, 2022.

When will I know if I will receive funding?
Final funding decisions are made by the governing Council, which will meet in January 2023. Following that meeting funding announcements will be made.

How much money might I receive?
Grant amounts will range from $5,000 to $75,000, but Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to change these ranges based on the volume of requests received. Grant amounts will be determined by a formula based on the number of eligible applicants, an organization’s pre-pandemic operating expenses, and the prioritization categories.

If I meet the eligibility requirements and I apply, will I definitely receive a grant?
Applicants are not guaranteed to receive a grant because we may receive more applications than we have funds to award. Mass Cultural Council seeks to award these one-time funds to as many eligible recipients as possible, to assist the economic recovery of the cultural sector.

If I’m awarded a grant, will I need to submit a final report?
Grantees will be expected to complete a simple final report on the use of their grant funds by July 14, 2023 for our reporting purposes. The information that you provide will be used to advocate for additional funds to continue supporting the cultural sector.

Prioritization Categories

How do I know if my city/town is one of the “under-resourced” cities and towns?
There are 122 cities and towns that meet our definition of “under-resourced”. A full list of these under-resourced communities is available.

I received money from a Local Cultural Council in the past three years, does this mean I don’t fit that prioritization category?
No, only direct grants from the Mass Cultural Council (i.e., Projects grants, Festivals grants, etc.) will be considered for prioritization. Receiving Local Cultural grants will have no impact on your application.

What do you mean by “little to no” other pandemic relief funding?
When evaluating this priority, Mass Cultural Council will consider both the:

  • Number of pandemic relief grants/payments an applicant has received
  • Total amount of pandemic relief grants/payments an applicant has received

Applicants that have gotten no other pandemic relief funds will receive priority over those that have gotten funding. Applicants that received small awards will be prioritized over those that received large awards.

Examples of federal and state programs that have provided funding to organizations related to COVID-19 include:

  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
  • SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP)
  • SBA Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG)
  • CARES funding through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
  • CARES funding through National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • CARES funding through the Mass Cultural Council’s Youthreach/SerHacer and/or CIP Gateway/Portfolio programs
  • CARES funding through the New England Foundation for the arts (NEFA)
  • CARES funding through Mass Humanities
  • Mass Cultural Council COVID relief programs: Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grants, and Supplemental Economic Recovery Grants
  • Other aid from federal programs related to COVID-19 not listed above

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