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General Operating Support Grants

Grants to Virginia Arts Nonprofits to Support
Organizational Programs and Operations

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA)

Deadline Date:

03/01/19 5:00 PM Receipt - Deadline for Short Form applications only; Long Form applications are due on March 1, 2019.


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Grants starting at $500 to Virginia nonprofit arts organizations to support general operations and promote organizational stability. First-time applicants must contact program staff prior to applying to confirm eligibility. Eligible activities include special projects, on-going programming, and maintenance/operation costs.

These grants provide general operating support to Virginia arts organizations to continue, strengthen, and expand their programs. A Virginia arts organization is defined as one whose primary purpose is the arts, that is incorporated in the State, and that has its headquarters and home season, or activities equivalent to a home season for non-producing organizations, in the State.

Funding Categories:

Avocational Organizations
Priority in this funding program will be given to organizations that pay artists. Avocational organizations may be funded in this program if they provide specific services or programs that would otherwise not be available in that particular geographic area.

In order to be eligible for General Operating Support a festival must be a separately incorporated Virginia organization with a year-round administrative staff and a year round presence in the community; have as its primary purpose the arts, spend the majority of its budget on arts activities; last longer than three consecutive days; hire professional artists; and include education and outreach programs as part of the festival. Other festivals may apply for Project Grants and Touring Assistance.

Educational Organizations
Organizations that exist primarily to provide arts education should meet the following criteria:
- The instructors should be professionals or former professionals in their fields
- Classes should be aimed at acquiring skills at ever-increasing levels of difficulty
- Classes should be focused on development of skills rather than being primarily rehearsals for a performance
- The organization should have a diversified funding base, beyond tuition and ticket sales for public performances, that shows wide-spread community support
- Scholarships should be available for low income students. There should be an active effort to recruit students from all segments of the community.
- In addition to instruction, there should be regular opportunities for students to perform or exhibit for the public.

Vocal and Musical Ensembles
Vocal and musical ensembles that perform primarily pop, Broadway, or barbershop music, or that focus primarily on competitions are not eligible for General Operating Support but are eligible to apply for Project Grants for new initiatives or for Technical Assistance.

Applicants that are serving racially, ethnically, and/or culturally diverse communities are expected to actively seek racial, ethnic, and/or cultural diversity in their artists, audiences, boards, and staff. Applications for funding should fully describe all efforts to create this diversity.

Diversified Funding Base
Applicants are expected to earn as much income from ticket sales/admission fees as possible, while seeking contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government, as well as income from special fund - raising activities. This philosophy recognizes that government resources are limited while demands for services are high and that the arts are healthier when open to diverse influences and not financially dependent on any single source of support.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178360

Estimated Size of Grant:

Organizations approved for funding will receive no more than 10% of their previous year's cash income, less Commission support, commissions to artists, facility rental income for non-arts activities, money paid to the organization for out-of-state trips or tours by the people taking the trips or tours, and money raised for capital purposes in the previous year. Minimum grant awards will be $500 per year; maximum grant awards will be $200,000 per year. Most organizations will receive less than the maximum, and no organization is guaranteed a specific funding amount.

Term of Contract:

The Commission awards all General Operating Support Grants for a one year period. Expenses may occur between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for General Operating Support, applicants must:

- Be a non-profit Virginia organization whose primary purpose is the arts (excluding units of government and educational institutions and their private companion foundations) and that are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code
- Have a valid DUNS number
- Be incorporated in Virginia and have its headquarters and home season, or activities equivalent to a home season for non-producing organizations, in the state.
- Have completed three years of programming. Applicants for General Operating Support are required to present at least three different programs or services for the public in Virginia each year.
- Have a total operating income of more than $10,000 for the last completed fiscal year. Organizations with smaller budgets may be eligible to apply for Project Grants or Technical Assistance.
- Have a stable, independent governing board
- Be handicap accessible
- Meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements listed above.

Basic Eligibility Requirements:

The Virginia Commission for the Arts awards grants to Virginia organizations which:

- Are not-for-profit and exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a), which includes the 501(c)3 designation of the Internal Revenue code, or are units of government, or are educational institutions, or are local chapters of tax exempt national organizations;
- Produce, present, or support in Virginia, dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theater, visual, and related arts;
- Comply with Title VI, Section 601, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that no person, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
- Comply with Title IV, Section 1681, of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Section 6101, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or age.
- Comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which state that no otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of his or her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Major Arts Institutions: Organizations that meet the standards described in Eligibility below will be reviewed by a statewide, multidisciplinary panel in alternating years. These organizations will follow the same guidelines and application procedures as other applicants for General Operating Support.

In addition, Major Arts Institutions must have the following:

- Have significant economic and artistic impact in its region of the state
- Must pay its performers. Organizations that have the purpose of presenting the visual arts must have professional curators who select the work to be shown. These organizations may not charge fees to artists for the exhibition of their work.
- Employ full time administrative staff
- Have boards of directors with the authority and skills to guide the organization
- Have been reviewed and approved for full funding in operating support from the Commission for at least four years prior to being considered by the Commission to be a major arts institution
- Have previous year’s cash income of at least $1,500,000. Substantial income for non-arts activities, such as facility rental income, is not included in the income minimum
- Have education/outreach programs
- Have opinioned, independent audits of their financial records each year

The Virginia Commission for the Arts does not fund:
- Activities restricted to an organization’s membership
- Costs of parties, receptions, fund-raising benefits, etc.
- Endowments, capital campaigns
- Activities that are primarily religious in purpose
- College or university-based projects that are part of a required course or curriculum, that do not involve and serve a significant non-student population, or that are for activities that are otherwise available in the community
- General operating support for historic celebrations or community promotional activities
- Applications to reduce or eliminate existing deficits
- Arts activities/programs that have started or already occurred
- Activities or programs that take place outside Virginia with the exception of the technical assistance grant.
- Vocal and musical ensembles that perform primarily pop, Broadway, or barbershop music, or that focus primarily on competitions

Pre-Application Information:

First-time General Operating Support applicants must contact the Commission staff before applying to confirm eligibility.

Online Short Form Applications are due February 1, 2019 by 5:00 p.m.

Long Form applications are due by March 1, 2019, by 5:00 p.m.

The Commission staff is available for consultation on applications, and to review drafts of applications before the application deadline. If assistance is needed, contact the Commission office at least four weeks before the deadline.

All organizations applying to the Virginia Commission for the Arts are required to provide a W-9.

All applicants must include their DUNS number when applying for a grant. Obtaining your DUNS number is a free, straightforward process. For more information, click here:

More on applying online:


Contact Information:

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

Apply online:

Catherine Wellborn

Virginia Commission for the Arts
Main Street Centre
600 East Main Street, Suite 330
Richmond, Virginia 23219

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Virginia