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General Operating Support Grants

Grants to Virginia Arts Nonprofits to Provide
Assistance with Organizational Expenses

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA)

Deadline Date:

03/02/20 5:00 PM Receipt - Deadline for Short Form applications only; Long Form applications are due on March 2, 2020.


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Grants to Virginia nonprofit arts organizations for organizational expenses. Applicants applying for the first time are required to contact program staff prior to submitting a proposal. Funding is intended to advance the work of qualified organizations by supporting ongoing operational and maintenance costs, arts programming, and artistic projects.

The purpose of the program is to assist organizations of artistic merit in fulfilling their missions by providing funds to maintain their stability and encourage their advancement. Grants provide general operating support to Virginia arts organizations to continue, strengthen, and expand their programs. 

Criteria for Evaluating Applications:

  • Artistic excellence
  • Effective management
  • Service to the community

The Commission supports organizations with high-quality activities that achieve a distinct artistic vision consistent with the applicant’s mission and goals. The Commission supports organizations with a wide variety of artistic programs, including both the preservation of an artistic heritage and the presentation of new works and new artists.

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. Each grantee is required to submit an application annually. Expenses must occur between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

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.
- Have a stable, independent governing board
- Be handicap accessible
- Meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements

Basic Eligibility Requirements of the Virginia Commission for the Arts stipulate that Virginia organizations:

- Be 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.

Avocational Organizations: Priority 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.

Festivals: To be eligible, 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.

Educational Organizations: Organizations that exist primarily to provide arts education. For criteria, please see URL for Full Text below.

Major Arts Institutions: Organizations that meet the required standards 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 meet the additional criteria found at the URL for Full Text below. (Note: An arts organization cannot opt out of being in the Major Arts Organization category once it has met the criteria.)

Applicants are expected to earn as much income from ticket sales/admission fees as possible, and seeking contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government, including from special fundraising activities when feasible.

- 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

For a list of ineligible activities, see

Pre-Application Information:

- Online Short Form Applications are due February 3, 2020 by 5:00 p.m., for expenses occurring between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
- Long Form applications are due by March 2, 2020, by 5:00 p.m., for expenses occurring between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

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

Organizations that have been funded by the Commission in the General Operating Support category in the past year will be notified by the Commission in early December about what information will be required for the application deadlines.

All applicants must include their DUNS number when applying for a grant. For information, see

Note: Organizations applying for General Operating Support are not eligible for Project Grants. Organizations receiving General Operating Support greater than $2,500 are not eligible for AIEx Grant funding.

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.

Each year the Commission staff conducts application assistance workshops around the state to explain the different grant programs and application procedures. Applicants are encouraged to attend one of the workshops.

For more information about grants and grant application resources:

GOS Forms:


Recorded Grant Application Webinar:

Contact Information:

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

Online application portal:

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

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