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Operating Support Grants - Basic and Core

Grants to Tennessee Arts Nonprofits in Eligible
Locations for General Organizational Support

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

03/10/21 4:30 PM CST


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Grants to Tennessee nonprofit arts organizations in eligible locations for general operational support. Applicants must submit a pre-application prior to submitting a full application. Funding is intended to assist local arts-focused nonprofits as they recover from pandemic-related closures and the events of 2020. Organizations must be located in Metro Nashville-Davidson County. Metro Arts will only allocate Operating Grants this year (not Project Grants).

The Grants Program supports organizations that are engaged in work that addresses one or more of the following

community outcomes:

  • Stronger Creative Workforce
  • Vibrant, Creative Neighborhoods
  • Deeper Cultural Participation

Types of Grants: 

  • Basic Operating Support grants support the overall operations of nonprofit arts organizations that are based in Metro Nashville-Davidson County and have an average revenue of more than $100,000 per year. Applicants in this category are reviewed on a three-year cycle. After FY21 applicants will not be adjudicated again until FY24. Organizations that become eligible for this category in a non-adjudication year may apply annually in the Core Operating Support category until the next adjudication year. Applicants reviewed in FY21 will retain the scores and rankings received until the next adjudication cycle. Specific funding allocations in non-adjudication years will be dependent upon budget and total grant requests. Basic Operating Support grantees are required to submit a Reverification Form every non-adjudication year in order to receive funding. Note: This is a three-year adjudication process, not a commitment to three years of funding. Metro Arts cannot guarantee funding from year to year. 
  • Core Operating Support grants provide foundational support to community-based arts organizations that are in their early stages and/or have a budget of less than $100,000. Applications are reviewed in this category annually. 

For information about eligible expenses, see:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 151699

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grant awards are not to exceed $300,000 for Basic Operating Support and $20,000 for Core Operating Support.

Term of Contract:

All eligible FY22 grant activities must take place between July 1, 2021, and June 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To receive a grant from Metro Arts, the applicant must:
- Produce, present or directly support artistic programs, projects, or works
- Have a primary mission to directly support the performance, exhibition, or instruction of art
- Be chartered in the state of Tennessee and tax-exempt under the IRS Code Section 501(c)(3)
- Have an IRS Letter of Determination with an effective date of exemption of January 1, 2019 or earlier for Core Operating Support and January 1, 2018 for Basic Operating Support
- Have a business address that is located in Metro Nashville & Davidson County and operate most of its programs in Metro Nashville
- Have evidence of non-discrimination employment and personnel practices in place
- Maintain a fully completed and accurate profile

Basic Operating Support Eligibility:
- Organizations with an arts-focused mission and average revenue of >$100,000 annually
- 3+ years as a nonprofit and at least 6 months of programming each year

Core Operating Support Eligibility:
- Organizations with an arts-focused mission and average revenue of less than $99,999 annually
- 2+ years as a nonprofit and at least 6 months of programming each year

Metro Arts does not award Operating Support grants to:
- Non-arts organizations
- Arts organizations that focus on capacity building, technical assistance, or advocacy and do not offer direct artistic programming
- Organizations that receive operational budget amendments (“line items”) from Metro, except for those that are provided by the Metropolitan Charter
- “Friends of…”: organizations whose primary purpose is to support government agencies or initiatives
- Colleges or universities
- Public broadcasting stations
- Arts organizations that operate as a legal subsidiary of a non-arts nonprofit organization

Pre-Application Information:

The application is a 2-step process: Statement of Intent/Pre-Application and the Full Application. Complete the Pre-Application by Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at 4:30 PM, and submit it online. Both steps are required for all applicants, even those applying for Basic Operating Reverification.

The deadline for full applications is Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at 4:30 PM.

Important Dates:
- Application live: January 27, 2021
- Applicant Grant Training Online Video Available: January 29, 2021
- Statement of Intent/Pre-Application Due: 4:30 PM February 10, 2021
- Application Deadline: Operating Support 4:30 PM March 10, 2021
- Panel Review: Core Operating Support May 3-7, 2021
- Commission Approval: June 17, 2021
- Grant Period: July 1, 2021 – June 1, 2022
- First Grant Payment (80% of award): Between October 1 and November 1, 2021
- Final Grant Payment (20% of award): 6-8 weeks after final closeout report approval

All applicants are required to have a profile. New profiles take some time to create initially but are easy to update on an annual basis. Grant applicants that do not already have a complete profile on should submit new profile requests to no later than February 15, 2021, for the grant deadline. Applicants that already have a complete profile should submit any necessary updates to by March 1, 2021, for changes to be updated by the grant deadline.

Applicants may request a draft review of their application prior to the application deadline. Draft reviews are open to all applicants. First-time applicants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for feedback from a Metro Arts staff member. All coaching sessions will take place between February 15-26, 2021.

Metro Arts grant awards require a 25% match. This means that if awarded funding, the applicant organization must contribute at least 25% of the amount awarded by Metro Arts. Matching funds can be corporate sponsorships, individual donors, foundation grants, state or federal grants, earned revenue, etc., but they cannot be from other Metro Arts grants, funds from other Metro departments, or in-kind (non-cash) donations. Metro Arts grants previously required a dollar for dollar match. This change is effective only for the FY22 grant cycle and may change in future years.

Training video:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

For further assistance, please contact

Metro Nashville Arts Commission
P.O. Box 196300
Nashville TN 37219-6300
615.862.6720 phone
615.862.6731 fax

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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