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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, used to apply for grants for individuals, you cannot see the grant opportunities meant for organizations.

If you are also representing 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’.

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 public art and capital projects, concert series, dance performances, art showcases, sculpture walks, poetry readings, mural projects, oral history projects, fashion shows, gallery exhibits and openings, digitization, conservation, 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, ‘intended for and promoted to members of the general public’?
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. Funded activities should be available to the public or community by exhibit, performance, demonstration, reading, or other means.

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 if eligible applications exceed available funding.

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 2024 (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024), 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, 2023 – June 30, 2024, 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.

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 the Mass Cultural Council’s ADA Coordinator for external requests.

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?
Eligible nonprofit and for-profit entities are registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You may search for your organization using the search function on the 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.

Does my organization need to have federal tax-exempt status?
No. If your organization is incorporated in the state of Massachusetts, you are eligible. If your organization is not incorporated in the state of 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. Nonprofit and for-profit entities need to be registered as a Foreign Corporation 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.

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

I operate as a sole proprietorship, am I eligible?
No, individuals are not eligible to apply to this program.

Are schools or higher education institutions allowed to apply?
Yes, as long as programming is intended for and promoted to the general public. Projects/Activities only open to university students, K-12 school groups, and other private groups are not eligible.

Can religious organizations apply for funding?
Yes, religious organizations or groups with religious affiliations are eligible to apply if the project/activity is intended for and promoted to the general public, and does not have the effect of advancing religion.

What does it mean to apply with a fiscal agent?
A fiscal agent is a nonprofit or municipal 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.

For the purpose of this application, your fiscal agent can be a nonprofit, whether Massachusetts-based or national, or a Massachusetts municipal organization.

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

Applying for a Festivals & Projects Grant

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 the Mass Cultural Council.

How do I know if I have an individual account or an organization account?
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 do we check the status of a grant?
Contact us.

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 mid to late-September.

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.

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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