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Festivals Program
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Program Guidelines

Program Overview
The Massachusetts Festivals Program is a program designed to provide funding to help festival programmers meet the needs of producing, promoting, and developing 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.

Eligibility Requirements

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.

Award Amount and Funding Period
Grant awards will be $500.

Funding period for festivals taking place between March 1, 2019  and August 31, 2019. Expenses must be incurred by June 30, 2019.

Applicants may only submit one application for funding during this grant cycle.

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

Eligible Expenses
The grant award must be utilized for the festival. Funds for the Fall/Winter Grant Cycle must be encumbered on or before June 30, 2019.

  • 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.

Ineligible expenses include:

  • Food and beverages including alcohol.
  • Non – arts and cultural festival components (such as rides, games, booths, fireworks)

Review Criteria
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.

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

Application Timeline

Festivals Taking Place March 1- August 31, 2019

Application Opens January 5, 2019 - 10:00am ET
Preliminary Funding Decisions Begin March 1, 2019
Application Closes March 15, 2019 - 5:00pm ET
Notification April, 2019

Spring/Summer 2019 festivals grant recipients are required to complete an online final report by September 30, 2019. Applications submitted after the deadline date up until April 28, 2019 may be considered if funding is available.

Failure to complete the Final Report will result in loss of eligibility for the Festivals Program and all other direct Mass Cultural Council grant programs until the Final Report has been submitted.

The Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, or cancel grants if a project:

  • Fails to comply with the terms of the grant contract
  • Does not properly credit Mass Cultural Council support
  • Misses deadlines for grant reports

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. Contact our staff for help.

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. We strive 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 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.

Reconsideration Policy
An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on his or her application if the applicant can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the results of a review does not constitute grounds for reconsideration, however.

The first step in the reconsideration process is to consult with the appropriate Program Staff to discuss the review process that concluded in Mass Cultural Council's decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council's Executive Director, in writing, within 30 days of the Mass Cultural Council's notification to the applicant of its decision. All requests will go to the Mass Cultural Council's board for reconsideration no earlier than its next scheduled board meeting.

Application Process

  1. Read the program guidelines and FAQs.

  2. Register for an informational webinar and check out the sample application (PDF).

  3. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, SerHacer, YouthReach, and/or Cultural Facilities Fund applications can all be used.)

  4. Complete and submit the online application beginning on January 5, 2019 at 10:00am (ET).

Questions? Contact Lisa Simmons, Program Manager at 617-858-2707.


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