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2 visitors in a gallery at Peabody Essex Museum

Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations

FAQs

Eligibility

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. Examples of these organizations can include but are not limited to senior centers and social service organizations (Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, etc.).

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 or a single-member LLC. Should I apply as an Organization or Individual?
For the purposes of the Cultural Sector Recovery programs, artists operating a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC 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 or single-member LLC, 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.

Does receiving this grant make me ineligible for future Mass Cultural Council grants (such as Cultural Facilities Fund or Projects)?
No, receiving this grant will not impact your organization’s future eligibility for other Mass Cultural Council grant programs.

Do I have to describe a specific project for the application?
No, because the funds are unrestricted, they can be used for any purpose and are not tied to a specific project.

We do not have an office space and our primary address is a PO Box, can we still apply?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that you have a physical address. If your primary mailing address is a PO box, you can add the address of a board member or Executive Director as your physical address.

Support with your Application

Are Mass Cultural Council staff available for questions?
Yes. There is a recorded information session and slide deck for the Pandemic Recovery Grants for Organizations. There are also “office hours” where you can join small groups to discuss any of your questions. One-on-one support is also available. Additionally, you can also email Mass Cultural Council staff or call 617-858-2821 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.

How do I know if my organization already has an account?
You can email our our program staff to help you determine if your organization has an existing account.

Our FY21 tax documents are not ready, what do we submit instead?
If you do not yet have your FY21 tax documents, you can submit a draft version or a statement of income and expenses and a balance sheet (if you have one). This can be a Profit & Loss statement, or it can be an Excel file, a report from your accounting software, or other internal documents that show your income and expenses for FY21. Please note that FY21 is the fiscal year that ended between Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2021.

What is a Fiscal Year?
A fiscal year is a one-year period that companies and governments use for financial reporting and budgeting. A fiscal year is most commonly used for accounting purposes to prepare financial statements. Fiscal years are referenced by their end date or end year and are often referred to as, “FY 2020”, “FY20”, or “fiscal year ending June 30, 2020”. For this grant application, we are requesting your financial reports for the fiscal years that ended in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Although a fiscal year can start on Jan. 1 and end on Dec. 31, not all fiscal years correspond with the calendar year. For example, for government offices in Massachusetts, the state fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. This grant is available during the state fiscal year 2023 or FY23, which started on July 1, 2022, and ends on June 30, 2023.

Is there a narrative section? I’d like to describe the impact of the pandemic on our FY22 financials.
No, there are no narrative fields in the application as we intended to make the process as light a lift as possible.

How does is it work if we apply with a fiscal agent?
When an organization has a fiscal agent, the organization is the applicant, and supplies the contact information for the fiscal agent as part of the application. An organization can act as a fiscal agent for multiple applicants, and can also be an applicant themselves.

When a grant award is made, Mass Cultural Council will issue a contract to the fiscal agent, for the benefit of the applicant, and the funds will be paid to the fiscal agent.

When do the funds need to be spent?
There is no set period in which funds must be spent for this grant program. You will be asked to complete a simple final report by July 14, 2023, but this is not the deadline by which the funds must be spent.

Is there a matching requirement?
No, there is no matching requirement for this grant.

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 28, 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?
Applicants that are located in specific communities, which are cities and towns that are below the state average in household income and educational attainment. This includes but is not limited to places designated as Gateway Cities. A full list of these under-resourced communities is available.

In your Organization Profile in the Agency’s grants management system you provide your group/collective/organization’s Official City. You can see the Official City you provided in the physical address displayed on the Applicant Information tab of the application. If it is incorrect follow the instructions for updating it provided there.

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.

How do we determine “demonstrated impact on tourism”?
To determine tourism impact, we will be looking at your organization’s in-person programming at your primary activity location(s). It is not about your organization’s touring activities, broadcast, or online activities. If 50% or more of your organization’s audience for in-person programming comes from outside of Massachusetts AND/OR more than 50 miles away from your primary location, your organization will receive prioritization credit for this category.

How do we determine “demonstrated impact on job creation”?
Job creation criteria is being determined by the number of people employed by your organization during calendar year 2021. This is the combined number of 1099 and W-2 statements that your organization issued.

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

Should I count employee tax credits or other tax deductions as pandemic relief?
No. We are specifically asking about grants awarded to your organization and do not require you to identify tax credits or other tax related programs.

Glossary

AAPI (also AANHPI) – an abbreviation that stands for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and is meant to include all Asian, South Asian and Polynesian ethnicities.

ALAANA (also AALANA and ALANA) – an abbreviation that stands for African, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, and Native American, and is meant to replace diminishing terms like minority.

Artistic discipline – a term used to describe an artist’s primary area of work within the cultural sector. Artistic Disciplines include but are not limited to: Dance, Theatre, Music, Opera/Musical Theatre, Visual Arts, Design Arts, Crafts, Media Arts, Literature, Folk and Traditional Arts, Interdisciplinary Arts, and Humanities.

BIPOC – an abbreviation that stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and is meant to be more inclusive and widely recognizable than a less specific term like people of color.

Collective – a group of artists/creatives sharing things like ownership, risk, benefits, and status to achieve shared goals, objectives and needs of the artists.

Earmark – a specified allocation of funding designated in a legislative bill for things such as a location, project, or institution.

Fiscal Sponsorship (also fiscal agent and unincorporated group) – A business practice or partnership characterized by a municipal or non-profit entity lending its tax-exempt status and 501(c)(3) benefits to a group that does not have its own non-profit status but is doing work that aligns with the agent’s mission. This relationship makes it possible for the unincorporated group to accept payment that is otherwise reserved for organizations with non-profit status.

For-profit corporation (also cooperative, partnership and LLC) – an entity that exists to earn income and pays income taxes.

Gateway Cities – midsize urban centers around the state that were slow to draw new investment in their economy as manufacturing opportunities stopped. The Massachusetts Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in the Commonwealth, which are Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.

Latino/a (also Hispanic, Latinx/e and Afro-Latino/a) – any person with ancestry in Latin America, a region usually unified by the predominance of Romance languages. This definition usually includes Portuguese-speaking Brazil and French-speaking Haiti but excludes Spain.

Hispanic was created as a term that refers to peoples descended from Spanish-speaking communities, such as Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans.

Latinx/Latine are gender-neutral alternatives for Latino/a.

Afro-Latino/Afro-Latina refers to people from Latin American countries with African ancestry.

MENA – an abbreviation that stands for Middle East and North African and encompasses a region of (22) twenty-two countries.

Native American (Tribal or Urban) – members of federal and state recognized tribes and Indigenous groups. Under U.S. law Native American tribes are distinct, independent political communities. This includes American Indians, Indigenous Americans, Alaska Natives, First Nations and urban Indian organizations.

Non-profit (also 501(c)3) – a tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 501(c)3 refers to the specific section of the IRS code that extends tax exempt status to charitable, educational, literary, religious, and scientific organizations, which includes most organizations in the arts and humanities.

Operating Expenses – money spent on something that is used to support normal business operations, including things like rent, equipment, inventory, marketing, payroll, and insurance.

People of Color – an imperfect umbrella term for people who do not present as white, especially in a white supremacist culture.

People of the Global Majority – a term that is being adopted more widely to describe the large part of the global population who consider themselves non-white.

Unincorporated Entities (groups and individuals) – a collective that comes together to create around a common purpose but is not incorporated with a non-profit tax status.

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with only one owner who pays personal income tax on profits earned.


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