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Operating Support Grants - Basic and Core

Grants to Tennessee Arts Nonprofits in Eligible
Regions for General Organizational Operations

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

03/19/20 4:30 PM CST


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Grants to Tennessee nonprofit arts organizations in eligible regions for general operational support. First-time applicants must create an online profile in advance of the application deadline. Funding levels will vary based on the size of the organization. Organizations must be located in Metro Nashville or in Davidson County.

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 who 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. 

Grant funds can be used for:

  • Salaries
  • Artist Fees
  • Program/Project Supplies
  • Performance Space/Facility Rental
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Consulting Fees
  • Equipment Rental

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 151699

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Basic Operating Support grants are up to $20% of average revenue and cannot exceed $300,000.
- Core Operating Support grants are up to $20% of average revenue and cannot exceed $20,000.

Term of Contract:

All FY21 grant activities must take place between July 1, 2020 and June 1, 2021 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
- 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, 2018 or earlier for Core
Operating Support and January 1, 2017 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:
- Organizations who receive operational budget amendments (“line items”) from Metro, except for those that are provided by the Metropolitan Charter
- Colleges or universities
- Public broadcasting stations
- Arts organizations that operate as a legal subsidiary of a non-arts nonprofit organization

Grant funds cannot be used for:
- Capital Improvements or Equipment Purchase
- Reduction of Debts
- Food or Beverage
- Activities or Programs with Religious Content
- Political Lobbying Activities
- Fundraising Events
- Purchase of Property

Pre-proposal Conference:

Metro Arts Grants 101

This is an information session to review the FY21 Metro Arts Grant program. Attendees will meet Metro Arts staff, learn about the Metro Arts Grants application and award processes, and have an opportunity to ask staff questions.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 from 13:00-15:00 CST
Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts and Culture

Pre-Application Information:

Important Dates:
- Applicant Grant Training Online Video Available: January 31, 2020
- Draft Review Request Deadline - Operating Support Categories: March 3, 2020
- Application Deadline - Operating Support: 4:30 PM March 19, 2020
- Panel Review - Basic Operating Support: May 12 and 13, 2020
- Panel Review - Core Operating Support: May 14, 2020
- Commission Approval: June 18, 2020
- Grant Period: July 1, 2020 – June 1, 2021

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, 2020 for the grant deadline. Applicants that already have a complete profile should submit any necessary updates to by February 28, 2020 in order 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. Simply enter your answers in to the application form in WebGrants, click save, then email the Grants Manager to request a draft review. All narrative answers in The Community, The Art, and The Organization are required prior to requesting a draft review. The draft review requests deadline is March 3, 2020 for operating support applications. A staff member will read the application and provide feedback within 5 business days.

All FY21 grant applications and accompanying support materials must be submitted before 4:30 PM CST, Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Metro Arts grant awards require a $1 to $1 match. This means that if you are awarded funding, the applicant must cover at least half of the cost of the program or project with funds not from Metro Arts. For instance, a $5,000 Metro Arts grant must be matched by another $5,000 not from 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.

Arts focused organizations may apply for up to three (3) grants in a single fiscal year. Applicants can apply for one (1) operating support category as well as one (1) Arts Access or Youth Arts grant and one (1) Creation or Catalyst grant.

Metro Arts Grants 101:

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:
Janine Christiano, Grants Manager

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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