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Festivals & Projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I see the ‘Festivals & Projects’ under ‘current opportunities’ in the grants management system?
Only organizational entities are eligible to apply for Festivals & Projects grants. If your profile is set up as an individual applicant account, you cannot see the grant opportunities meant for organizations. Individuals are not eligible to apply to this program.

If you are also an authorized representative of an eligible organization, you should login with the account associated with that organization. If your organization does not already have an account, you will need to register and create an organizational profile using a different email address than the one associated with your individual account previously used with our grants management system.

After you login to your organization’s account or register as an organization and set up your password, the Festivals & Projects grant will display under ‘current opportunities’.

Please note that you might see the ‘Operating Grants for Organizations’ in the ‘current opportunities’ section, but that is not confirmation that your organization is eligible for this grant program.

What is different about the Festivals & Projects grant this cycle?

  • The eligibility criterion is expanded to include community-based and/or publicly available activities.
  • Additional prioritization factors include projects aligning with the Agency values of public service and inclusion.
  • Single-member Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are not eligible.
  • State-designated Cultural Districts are not eligible.

Festival, Project, or Activity Eligibility

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.

What are some examples of eligible projects?
Examples include but are not limited to concert series, dance performances, art showcases, sculpture walks, poetry readings, mural projects, oral history projects, fashion shows, gallery exhibits and openings, digitization, conservation, public installations, and productions of cultural works. Questions about whether your project is eligible for this grant? Contact us.

What are some examples of eligible festivals?
Examples may include multicultural festivals (Lunar New Year, music festivals, harvest fairs, holiday strolls, foodie crawls or food festivals that celebrate a neighborhood or type of food with cultural, historical, or regional significance). They may also include Open Studios, craft fairs, film festivals, book and literary festivals, town anniversary celebrations, and science festivals. All of these must still incorporate the arts, humanities, and/or sciences in order to be eligible. Questions about whether your festival is eligible for this grant? Contact us.

Does my project or festival have to offer in-person programming?
No, your project or festival does not have to offer in-person programming to be eligible. Virtual programming is eligible as well.

What do you mean by ‘publicly available’?
Festivals & Projects grants are intended to support activities that contribute to the cultural vitality of the community rather than benefiting any private individual or group. However, this does not mean that a large crowd of people needs to participate to satisfy the publicly available requirement.

What do you mean by a festival, project, or activity that is ‘community based’?
Mass Cultural Council recognizes the value of preserving and promoting a diverse cultural sector. Community based projects are mean to serve the needs of a specific community. This could be a geographic community, ethnic heritage, or cultural/tribal tradition and may include events, education, performances, conservation, or cultural revitalization efforts.

Community based projects also include those serving portions of the general public that require specific accommodations.

What do you mean by a festival, project, or activity that ‘intentionally serves portions of the general public requiring specific accommodations?
Mass Cultural Council recognizes that portions of the general public require specific accommodations to engage in or experience the arts, humanities, and/or sciences. Projects, festivals, and activities intentionally serving these populations are also eligible for funding. Examples are seniors in care centers, incarcerated individuals, persons with disabilities, persons in recovery programs, etc.

University students, K-12 school groups, donors, members, or other limited audiences are not considered specific portions of the general public. Projects benefiting any private individual or group are ineligible.

Does our festival or project have to be available for free?
No, but projects and festivals that are free to the public will be prioritized.

What if our festival or project is only free for a certain population, but not for everyone?
If your festival or project is only free for a certain population (i.e., seniors, or kids under 12) you will not be able to get prioritization points awarded for free activities.

What if my project or festival has a majority of its programming during fiscal year 2025 (July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025), but there is a little overlap into the next fiscal year?
If the majority (50%+) of the publicly-available portion of your activity takes place July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025, you should apply for this cycle. The same festival/project straddling the Agency’s fiscal years can only be funded once, in only one of the grant cycles. (An eligible festival/project that is repeated annually can be funded in multiple grant cycles, as these are separate events/activities.)

We haven’t selected a date or location for our festival, project, or activity yet. Can I still apply?
Yes, if what you are planning meets the requirements for an eligible project, festival, or activity you can apply – even if you don’t have the details sorted out just yet.

What is the festival or project minimum expenses required?
Projects and festivals must have a minimum of $2,500 in cash expenses, including the full cost of the project – there are no limits on overhead or indirect costs. If your proposed festival or project has more than $2,500 in expenses, you will report on the full amount in your application. Grant amounts for this program, if awarded, are $2,500, regardless of overall project size.

What does ‘accessible to people with disabilities’ mean?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights legislative requirement that equitable provisions must be designed in your programs, services, and products. These considerations can and should be ongoing and improved over time. Access should be assessed within physical and virtual sites to achieve integrated settings, effective communication, and reasonable accommodations. For more info on Access and Inclusion resolutions contact Charles G. Baldwin.

Can my organization apply to perform at or take part in someone else’s festival?
Provided your organization meets all other eligibility requirements, yes. However, know that each activity/festival/project will only be funded once per cycle. If the festival producer or other entities apply for activity at the same festival or event, your organization may not receive funding.

Can my organization apply for a grant to sponsor an event produced or presented by another organization?
No. Serving solely as a venue, promotional partner, or corporate sponsor is not eligible.

Applicant Eligibility

How can I tell if my organization is incorporated in Massachusetts?
You may search for your organization using the search function on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Corporations Division’s website. When you find your organization, you can click on your organization’s record to see the status of your incorporation and any related filings. If your organization’s status is listed as revoked or dissolved on the SOC website, we will be unable to award you a grant. Your organization may also be at risk for liability and other issues, and you should work with the SOC to address it as soon as possible.

Does my organization need to have federal tax-exempt status?
No. If your organization is incorporated or registered in the state of Massachusetts and not dissolved or revoked, you are eligible. If your organization is not incorporated or registered in Massachusetts, you may apply using a fiscal agent.

My organization is in a state other than Massachusetts? Can we apply?
Yes, but you may have additional requirements in order to be eligible. Non-profit and for-profit entities need to be registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have a Massachusetts address. Unincorporated organizations must have a Massachusetts address and conduct the majority of their group’s programming in Massachusetts. The proposed festival, project, or activity must be in Massachusetts.

Do we need to be a federally recognized Tribal Government to apply?
No, Native American and/or Indigenous organizations may be eligible with other legal statuses as well, including for-profits, non-profits, and unincorporated organizations.

Can I apply as an individual?
No, this program is for organizations.

I operate as a sole proprietorship, or a single-member Limited Liability Company, am I eligible?
No, these types of entities are considered individuals, and individuals are not eligible to apply to this program.

I am an artist, can I apply for a grant on behalf of an organization to present my work at their venue?
No, only authorized representatives can register under an organization. Authorized representatives have permission to act on the organization’s behalf. Either as a member of the organization’s board or staff, or as someone duly authorized in writing by the organization to register as a contact for the organization to submit applications (i.e. grant writer, contractor, volunteer, etc.). Individuals that act on behalf of an organization without permission, may result in the withdrawal of any/all applications submitted, cancellation of any/all grants awarded, and the removal the individual’s profile from the organization’s record.

Are schools or higher education institutions allowed to apply?
Yes, as long as programming is intended for and promoted to the general public. For FY25, festivals, projects, and activities primarily serving a school are not eligible.

Can religious organizations apply for funding?
Yes, religious organizations or groups with religious affiliations are eligible to apply if the festival or project meets all other eligibility requirements and does not include activities that are ‘inherently religious’ such as religious worship, instruction, and proselytization.

Can a Cultural District apply for funding?
Due to limited funds, Cultural Districts receiving funding in FY24 will not be eligible to apply. Please note that managing entities that functionally serve as the Cultural District would fall under this restriction. However, managing entities that primarily act as fiscal agents may still be eligible for grants based on their other outside operations.

What does it mean to apply with a fiscal agent?
A fiscal agent is an organization that agrees to act as the legal and contractual representative of the unincorporated group. They can provide a variety of services as part of the agreement, but the most important is that they maintain supervision over the funds, making sure that they are used for the purpose of the agreement.

Grantees using a fiscal agent will not be paid directly, the fiscal agent will complete the contract and receive the payment on the grantees’ behalf.

Eligible fiscal agents must have active 501(c)3 status with the IRS and be registered to do business in Massachusetts – meaning they are listed in the Corporate Division’s Business Entity database (not dissolved or revoked) or registered with the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division. For the purpose of this program, Massachusetts municipalities are also able to serve as an applicant’s fiscal agent.

Does a fiscal sponsor with an address from another state have the ability to do business in Massachusetts?
They would need to be registered as a Foreign Corporation with the MA Secretary of the Commonwealth or registered with the MA Attorney General’s Public Charities Division.

If a non-profit organization has received funding through Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio or Operating Grants for Organizations – but is acting as a fiscal agent for another group – is that other group eligible for funding through the non-profit fiscal agent?
Yes, an organization receiving support through the Cultural Investment Portfolio or Operating Grants for Organizations can serve as a fiscal agent for another applicant.

Can individuals apply if they get a fiscal agent?
No, individuals are not eligible to apply.

Can Festivals & Projects funding be used to cover miscellaneous expenses, such as food and beverages and payment of staff?
Yes, grant amounts of $2,500 are unrestricted, there is no limit on overhead or indirect costs regardless of the size of the project. Your project budget should cover the full cost of your project, not just expenses you are asking the grant program to cover.

Applying for a Festivals & Projects Grant

Can I apply to Operating Grants for Organizations and Festivals & Projects? How does that work?
Yes, organizations are eligible to apply for both the Operating Grants for Organizations and Festivals & Projects programs. However, an organization can only receive funding from one of these programs.

If an organization’s application for Festivals & Projects is recommended for a grant (notifications are anticipated in September), they have the option to either accept it immediately or defer acceptance until the Operating Grants for Organizations application review process concludes (notifications are anticipated in November).

Should an organization be awarded a grant from the Operating Grants for Organizations program, that grant takes precedence, and the Festivals & Projects grant will be reassigned to another applicant. If an organization is not awarded an Operating Grant for Organizations grant, their Festivals & Projects grant will be released for payment.

How do I access the online application?
Start by registering in the Agency’s grants management system as an organization if you are applying for a grant on behalf of an organization, school, town, or another group. In this case, the organization is the applicant and grant recipient, and you are the primary contact for the application.

Typing your organization’s name into the ‘Organization Name’ field will prompt a list of organizations already registered in our system. Select your organization from the list, and then complete your contact information. If your organization is not listed, follow the directions to add your organization information and your contact information to register your organization.

To see if you already have a profile in the grants management system, log in and click ‘Forgot password?’ and enter your email address. If the email you entered matches the one in our system, you will be sent an email from ‘’ with instructions for resetting your password.

If we received a grant from a Local Cultural Council, does this count as being ‘previously funded’?
If you received funding from Local Cultural Councils, your organization won’t be considered as receiving previous funding from Mass Cultural Council.

How do I know if I have an individual account or an organization account in the grants management system?
If you have an individual user account, your portal displays ‘My Profile’.

If you have an organization account, your portal page shows ‘My Profile’ and ‘My Organization Profile’.

Can I submit the application even if my BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) or Card to Culture prioritization points aren’t showing up yet?
Yes, you can. Mass Cultural Council staff will be reviewing BIPOC and Card to Culture applications. Once those reviews are complete, the points will be added retroactively in our grants management system.

How do I know if my application has been successfully submitted?
You should be able to see a ‘Congratulations’ header at the top of your submitted application on the grants management system and receive a confirmation email.

How many grants will be awarded?
The number of grants awarded through this program is dependent upon the Agency’s FY25 state budget appropriation and our FY25 spending plan which is expected to be approved by the governing Council in August 2024.

How do we check the status of a grant?
We anticipate notifying applicants about the outcome of their application in September 2024, and will update the timeline in our program guidelines if that changes. You are also welcome to contact us with any questions.

If funded, when would we receive the grant?
If your grant has been approved, you will receive an electronic funds transfer after your contract with us is fully executed. This is usually 4-6 weeks after Mass Cultural Council receives your completed grant contract package. We expect to be able to send contracts to grantees in late-September through October 2024. Please note: This timeline is subject to change, and awardees need to complete a multi-step contracting process before funds can be disbursed. Applicants with funded activities happening before that time may be paid retroactively.

Can we hold over funds for another related project or festival?
You are unable to hold over funds. Grant funds need to be spent on your proposed projects unless discussed with Mass Cultural staff after the approval process.

How do we request a modification to our original proposal and description?
It is suggested that you reach out to staff with your request to modify your original proposal. Staff will then make an internal note on your application. You will fill out the final report with updated details regarding your new project or festival.

We are not able to hold our festival or project within the timeframe of July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025. Do we lose our grant funding?
You have a few options:

  • Discuss with staff about a project modification that will still happen within the timeframe. Staff will make a note on your application, and you will provide details about your updated project or festival on the final report.
  • If your project or festival needs to be postponed until after June 30, 2025, you will fill out the final report after you conclude your program, but you will not be eligible to apply for the FY26 cycle that opens Spring 2025.

Additional Questions?

Technical questions about the online application or grants management system? Contact our grants team.

Programmatic questions about application requirements? Email our program staff or call 617-858-2821.

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