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Festivals Grants

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits to Support
Arts, Humanities, and Science Festivals

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Massachusetts Cultural Council

Deadline Date:

03/15/18 5:00 PM ET


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Grants of $500 to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations to support a broad range of arts, cultural, humanities, and science-based festivals. Funding is intended to assist festival programmers in promoting and producing festivals, as well as developing festival audiences.

From independent film and jazz to town celebrations and folk traditions, festivals are a core part of the state's arts and culture ecosystem. Festivals build community, foster cultural exchange and understanding, and help tourism. They add a rich and vibrant texture to communities, and provide access to arts, heritage, and educational programs that engage wide and varied audiences.

The Festivals Program goals are:
-To engage residents and visitors with programs that celebrate the arts, humanities, and sciences.
-To build community.
-To offer diverse arts and cultural experiences.
-To support Massachusetts artists and those working in the humanities and interpretive sciences.
-To showcase the Commonwealth’s geographic, artistic, and cultural diversity.

Eligible Expenses:
-Fees paid to artists, musicians, performers, celebrities, special guests, and speakers.
-Programming and production costs.
-Equipment rental such as: sound, stage, lighting.
-Accessibility services such as: enhancements for people with visual impairment or hearing loss.
-Audience surveys, research or economic impact studies related to festival activities
-Translation costs such as: promotional or programming materials for multi-cultural audiences.
-Marketing and promotional materials.

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination:

The Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services.

The Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensure that all personnel and service programs, policies and practices will be formulated and conducted in a manner which will ensure equal access for all people and prevent discrimination not only as a matter of law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth's population in Mass Cultural Council programs and services.

The Mass Cultural Council is dedicated to creating a workplace, programs, and services that welcome, respect and value people of all races, color, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religions, creeds, ancestry, national origin, disability and veteran status. The Mass Cultural Council will not fund any organization or program that discriminates on the basis of these attributes. Mass Cultural Council strives to reflect diversity in all activities, programs and services removing any barriers to accessibility.

The Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to be in compliance with:
-The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
-Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. The Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can provide for both the public and the grantee.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 167961

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grant awards will be $500.

Term of Contract:

Festivals may take place between March 1, 2018 and August 31, 2018. Expenses must be incurred by June 30, 2019.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for funding a festival must:
-Be based in Massachusetts and managed by a Massachusetts-based entity.
-Have a 501(c)(3) designation and be in good standing with the IRS, or an organization applying through a 501(c)(3) fiscal agent. The fiscal agent must be incorporated in Massachusetts or registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Massachusetts and in good standing with the IRS.
-Be an annual or bi-annual celebration.
-Be an organized consecutive sequence of curated events within a certain time period - not less than 4 hours in one day and not to exceed 14 consecutive days.
-Be an identifiable unified theme that either has an arts, humanities, or science component.
-Be in operation for 1 year or more.
-Employ or showcase MA artists, humanists, or scientists.
-Be open to the public and include some aspect of free programming.
-Be in good standing with other Mass Cultural Council grant programs.
-Festivals produced by municipal departments such as Local Cultural Councils, parks and recreation departments, and libraries are eligible to apply and can serve as a fiscal agent.

Ineligible festivals include:
-Individual organization’s season or seasonal series of presented or produced work.
-Sports and recreation activities and related events.
-Virtual events.
-Competitions and award ceremonies.
-Scholarship programs, pageants, conferences, symposiums, or seminars.
-Trade fairs, events of a primarily commercial nature, consumer shows.
-Events that are organized solely as fundraisers, or that contribute to endowments.
-Events organized as showcases or recitals for individual schools, including: fairs, bazaars, fetes, or open house events.
-Events organized by political parties, or produced as platforms for politically partisan activity.
-Parties, private celebrations or events not open to the general public.

Ineligible expenses include:
-Food and beverages including alcohol.
-Non-arts and cultural festival components (such as rides, games, booths, fireworks)

Pre-Application Information:

Successful applicants must demonstrate significant community support through collaborations, partnerships, and sponsorships (in kind or cash based).

Applications will be reviewed by Mass Cultural Council staff and granted on a "first-received, first-reviewed" basis. Regional diversity will be taken into consideration at time of funding.

Application Timeline:
-Application Opens: January 5, 2018 - 10:00 AM ET
-Preliminary Funding Decisions Begin: March 1, 2018
-Application Closes: March 15, 2018 - 5:00 PM ET
-Notification: April, 2018

The application for the next funding cycle (fall 2018 - winter 2019 festivals) is slated to be available in June 2018 pending legislative appropriation.


Application Instructions:

Listen to an informational webinar:

More information about the Festivals Program may be found here:

Contact Information:

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

Register online to apply:

Lisa Simmons, Program Manager

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts