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Festivals Program
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Application Instructions
Program Guidelines
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Program Guidelines

Program Overview
The Massachusetts Festivals Program is a new 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.

In addition to funding, grant recipients also receive promotional support through our ongoing work with ArtsBoston. Through their work with MCC, ArtsBoston will promote festivals on their website at www.artsboston.org/massfestivals and analyze data collected by festivals through their Audience Initiative.

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 interpretive science component.
  • Be in operation for 1 year or more (new festivals are not eligible to apply).
  • Employ or showcase MA artists, humanists, or scientists.
  • Meet the 501(c)(3) requirements.
  • Be open to the public and include some aspect of free programming.
  • Be in good standing with other MCC 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.

This funding period is for festivals taking place between March 1, 2017 and August 31, 2017. Expenses covered by the grant must be incurred by June 30, 2017.

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

The application for the next funding cycle (fall 2017 - winter 2018 festivals) is slated to be available in June 2017 pending legislative appropriation.

Eligible Expenses
Funds must be encumbered on or before June 30, 2017. The grant award must be utilized for the festival.

  • 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:

  • Capital Expenditures. Capital expenditures are defined as an item or group of items with a life expectancy of more than three years.
  • Food and beverages including alcohol.
  • Non – arts and cultural festival components (such as rides, games, booths, fireworks)

Review Criteria
Applications will be reviewed by MCC 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).

A well thought out planning process that engages the community during the planning and/or development stage is a plus.

Application Timeline

Festivals Taking Place March 1 - August 31, 2017

Application Opens January 5, 2017 - 10:00am ET
Informational Webinar January 11, 2017 - 12:00pm ET
Preliminary Funding Decisions Begin March 1, 2017
Application Closes March 15, 2017 - 5:00pm ET
Notification April 2017

Festivals Taking Place September 1, 2017 - February 28, 2018

Listen to an Informational Webinar Before applying
Application Opens June 14, 2017 - 10:00am ET
Preliminary Funding Decisions Begin September 1, 2017
Application Closes September 15, 2017 - 5:00pm ET
Notification October, 2017

Spring /Summer 2017 festival grant recipients are required to complete an online Final Report by September 30, 2017.

Fall 2017/Winter 2018 festivals grant recipients are required to complete an online final report by April 30, 2018.

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

The MCC 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 MCC support
  • Misses deadlines for grant reports

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination
The MCC is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in the MCC’s programs and services. Contact MCC staff for help.

The MCC 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 MCC programs and services.

The MCC 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 MCC 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 MCC and its grantees are expected to be in compliance with:

The MCC’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. The MCC 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 an MCC decision on his or her application if the applicant can demonstrate that the MCC 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 MCC's decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a request must be sent to the MCC's Executive Director, in writing, within 30 days of the MCC's notification to the applicant of its decision. All requests will go to the MCC'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 Adams, CIP-Peers, 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, 2017 at 10:00am (ET).

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


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