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Operating Grant

Grants to Mississippi Arts and Cultural
Nonprofits for General Operating Expenses

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Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC)

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Grants to Mississippi arts and cultural nonprofits to support general organizational operations. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with program staff prior to applying. These grants are intended to support organizations that offer access to the arts for state residents. Funding will help qualifying organizations expand their programs and services.

Operating Grants can be used by organizations to support any of their general operating expenses, including salaries, marketing, rent, insurance, or artistic fees. Because of the wide range of expenses the grant can support, Operating Grant applicants are required to submit more detailed information than other applicants. The additional information allows MAC’s grant review panels to get a more detailed picture of the applicant organization’s overall structure and activities.

MAC awards Operating Grants in each of its four programs areas. Before applying, review the goals of each program area to determine which one most closely aligns with your organization’s mission and activities.

MAC awards Operating Grants in three of its program areas.

Arts Based Community Development:

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Whether it is after-school programming targeting at-risk youth, public art refurbishing a blighted downtown area, or a music festival bringing together a diverse audience from the community, successful Arts Based Community Development programming utilizes community-driven planning and the power of the arts to create stronger communities.

Arts Industry:

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Arts Industry organizations seek to enrich the lives of their audience through entertainment and through learning about themselves and others by expanding the role the arts plays in the broader social arenas of Mississippi communities. They involve the general public with their services and programs. They reach diverse communities to identify shared values, foster excellence in the arts and provide inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens by providing inclusive and diverse artistic experiences.

Folk & Traditional Arts:

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Folk & Traditional Arts works to increase the awareness of and foster the continuation of the state’s folk and traditional art forms.

Long-Range Strategic Plan:

An organization’s ability to develop an effective long-range plan and utilize it to track its performance over time is crucial to achieving long-term success. Therefore, a long-range plan (that covers three to five years) is a required component of MAC’s Operating Grant application.

MAC’s grant review panelists evaluate each applicant organization’s long-range plan in order to get a picture of where it sees itself going in the coming years. Panelists also review the narrative attachment, which describes the organization’s objectives for the coming grant period and outlines the strategies the applicant will use to move it toward those goals.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 163595

Estimated Size of Grant:

The amount an organization is eligible to apply for is based on its previous year’s total income:

-If you are a volunteer-run organization, you may apply for 25% of your last completed fiscal year’s income, not to exceed $7,500.

-If you are a staffed organization with an annual budget of at least $30,000, you may apply for 25% of the last completed fiscal year’s income, not to exceed $20,000.

-If you are a staffed organization with an annual budget of more than $250,000, you may apply for up to 10% of the actual cash revenue for operating expenses of the last completed fiscal year, not to exceed $30,000. (Revenues do not include loans, endowment funds, capital improvement funds, or any other restricted-use funds that are not part of general operating revenues.)

Statewide arts service organizations that have missions compatible with one of MAC’s four program areas may apply for up to $15,000 through the Operating Grant program. The organization may be staffed or volunteer.

Term of Contract:

MAC allows veteran Operating grantees to apply for two-year Operating Grants. Organizations who are awarded two-year support do not submit an application prior to the second year of their grant. However, they are required to submit final reports both years, as well as a “Request for Second Year Funding” form at the start of the second year’s grant.

Organizations may apply for two-year support after successfully completing a one-year MAC Operating Grant. Applicants must be recommended for two-year funding by the grant review panel that evaluates their application. This recommendation then must be approved by MAC’s Commissioners.

Two-year Operating Grant funds are given on a year-to-year basis. The grantee is not guaranteed to receive the same amount of funding both years of the grant.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

A Mississippi-based arts organization may apply for an Operating Grant if it has been incorporated in the state of Mississippi as a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3 of the IRS code for at least two years and:

-Has a mission and ongoing activities that are focused on arts development and presents performances, exhibitions, arts education programs, or other arts services to the public as its primary function;
-Has a governing board empowered to form policies and execute programs;
-Demonstrates a close working relationship with local government agencies, artists, schools, and community organizations;
-Has a board-adopted, basic long-range plan that shows how the organization intends to grow artistically, manage for the future, and serve the community;
-Reflects the demographics of its community in the planning, implementation and evaluation of its programs;
-Demonstrates ongoing fiscal responsibility by maintaining financial records that meet generally accepted accounting principles;
-Is not receiving operating funds from another line of the Mississippi state government’s budget; and
-Is not primarily educational and does not award academic credit.

To apply as a staffed agency, your organization must have at least one full-time, year-round paid professional staff person working for your organization at the time that the application is submitted. MAC considers “full-time” status as a minimum of 35 hours of work per week. The agency expects that the staff person(s) are paid at the prevailing professional wage for their area.

Local arts agencies applying to the Community & Economic Development program for an Operating Grant must provide at least two of the following services:

-Arts-based community development programs for local residents;
-Re-granting and services to local artists or arts organizations;
-Serves as a source of information on local cultural events, activities, and programs;
-Facility management (such as a gallery or performance center) services;
-Arts education;
-Advocacy for the arts;
-Arts presenting; or
-Arts instruction.

A note to Community & Development organizations: MAC traditionally awards Operating Grants to one local arts agency from any given municipality. When two local arts agencies serving the same geographic area apply for Operating Grants in the same year, both of the organizations’ applications should directly address how the work of the two groups complement (and does not replicate) each other. As with any other application in this program, each applicant must demonstrate that they involve the entire community in their planning, governance, programming, and evaluation.

Major divisions of nonprofit organizations that are engaged solely in arts activities and meet the above requirements are also eligible to apply. However, branches or divisions within eligible arts organizations may not apply. An arts division within a larger organization must provide a budget that is clearly delineated within the overall financial statement of the organization.

Statewide Arts Service organizations:

Statewide arts service organizations that have missions compatible with one of MAC’s four program areas. The organization may be staffed or volunteer. MAC defines a statewide arts service organization as a nonprofit group that:

-Advocates to policy makers and citizens the benefits of a specific arts discipline or application of the arts, such as dance, theater, arts-based community projects, or arts in education;
-Serves a defined segment of the arts community;
-Provides services or programs to the general public, not just its members;
-Creates technical assistance or networking opportunities for professionals within a specific discipline; and
-Has a governing board that represents the state’s geographic and cultural diversity.

Grant funds to organizations may not be used for the following expenditures:
-Indirect costs
-Contingency funds
-Activities already funded in the state’s budget (for example, an organization receiving unrestricted funds from the state of Mississippi through another agency or line item may not receive general operating support from MAC. In addition, an organization receiving funds for a partial project cannot apply to MAC for funding of the same project)
-Interest on loans, fines or litigation costs
-Food or beverages for hospitality or entertainment functions
-Projects primarily planned for fundraising purposes
-Lobbying expenses or other activities that are primarily political in nature;
-Tuition or scholarships for academic study
-Monetary awards for competitions
-College and university events that are considered a part of regular or extracurricular programs
-Purchase or long-term rentals of equipment, property or collections
-Out-of-state tours or travel to competitions
-School-sponsored trips, including transportation, admission fees, and other related travel expenses
-Capital improvements, facility construction, or renovation work (except through the BFA grant program.)
-Activities where the primary focus is for therapy
-Programs for a religious purpose, including for the promotion of any sect, church, creed, or sectarian organization, nor to conduct any religious service or ceremony. Funds can be granted to religious organizations as long as the funds are not used for a religious purpose. This allows faith-based organizations to apply on behalf of its community for arts activities or programming where artistic expression is the primary focus.
-Grants to artists for paper, computers, office supplies or postage

If grant funds are limited in any fiscal year, priority will be given to new and underserved applicants and in support of accessible programming.

Applications from colleges, universities and other state-level schools are only eligible if they include and benefit the general public. College and university events that are considered a part of regular or extracurricular programs, or whose primary purpose is to offer academic credit, are not eligible for grants. Grants to these types of entities are not a top priority of MAC.

Pre-Application Information:

Grant awards to organizations, unless otherwise specified in the program guidelines, must be matched dollar-for-dollar. Sources of matching funds may include revenue from the project activities, contributions from foundations or corporations, government support from federal or local sources, or cash from the organization’s own accounts.

Grantees cannot match MAC funding with other state funds. In-kind contributions cannot be counted as part of a cash match.

All organizations applying to MAC (including schools) must provide their Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number on the application.

Eligible organizations are limited to applying for a Project Grant OR an Operating Grant each fiscal year. First-time applicants to the Operating Grant Program are strongly encouraged to contact MAC Program Staff about the viability of this type of grant for their organization before submitting an application.

Organizations or individuals who are applying to MAC for the first time are encouraged to submit a draft version of their application to be reviewed by a MAC staff member. The staff will contact the applicant with feedback no later than 10 days prior to the deadline. Applicants must request a review by contacting MAC staff in advance.

Application Timeline:
-January 15, 2018 – Draft Application Deadline (if submitting a draft)
-March 1, 2018 – Operating Grant application deadline
-April 2018 – Review of applications by the grant panel (the specific panel date will be available by late March. Applicants are allowed to attend panels.)
-June 2018 – MAC Board meets and makes final funding decisions on all applications
-July 2, 2018 – Applicants are notified whether their application was funded or not. No information on the grants (including whether or not an applicant will be receiving an award or the amount of the award) will be available from MAC prior to this date.


Grant Review Criteria:

Tips for Writing Grant Applications:

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 more information on applying for an Operating Grant, contact the MAC Program Director who oversees the area most closely tied to your organization’s main goals:

Arts-Based Community Development:
Melody Moody Thortis

Arts Education:
Charlotte Smelser

Arts Industry:
Turry Flucker

Folk & Traditional Arts
Maria Zeringue

Mississippi Arts Commission
501 North West Street
Suite 1101A Woolfolk Building
Jackson, Mississippi 39201

P: (601) 359-6030
F: (601) 359-6008

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Mississippi