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<< Program Guidelines

Capital Grant Program

There is no Cultural Facilities Fund application at this time. Check back for updates on an FY19 round of funding in September 2018.

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For your reference, below is a summary of our 2018 capital grant application instructions.  Feel free to refer to these instructions if you would like to learn about the program, eligibility requirements and review criteria. Please keep in mind that all dates and deadlines are not static year to year, and program guidelines are subject to revision.

Goals of the Capital Grants Program
The Capital Grant Program provides matching grants to assist with the acquisition, final-stage design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation, or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance of cultural facilities in Massachusetts. The goal of this program is to promote the development of cultural facilities that are thoughtfully planned and developed, contribute to the cultural and economic lives of their communities, have a transformative impact on the community, and are supported by significant matching contributions from the private sector.

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Types of Projects Funded
The Capital Grant Program offers grants for:

  • Site or facility acquisition (provided there is a signed Purchase & Sale Agreement and appropriate business planning is in place).
  • Repair, rehabilitation, or renovation of existing facilities. This may include (but is not limited to) efforts to improve physical accessibility, fire safety, and other building safety.
  • New construction/expansion of existing facilities (provided appropriate business planning is in place).
  • Final-stage design of new facilities
  • Purchase of major equipment or integrated systems. This may include HVAC systems, sound and light systems, rigging or similar equipment, provided that these are fully integrated elements of a building, structure or site and are fixed in place.  Mobile goods or equipment, including moveable seating and display cases, are not eligible for grant reimbursement.
  • Any combination of the above.
  • New projects that demonstrate a transformative impact on the host community.

Grants in this program may not be used for:

  • Capital campaign costs or non-facilities capital campaigns (e.g., endowment campaigns).
  • Regular operating activities of an organization.
  • Ongoing staff positions.
  • Fundraising or marketing activities.
  • Any other costs that are not related to the approved Eligible Project.
  • Mortgage or loan payments.

All organizations that receive grants under this program must certify as part of the Grant Agreement that the project for which the grant is being made complies with, or will comply with upon completion of the project, the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Review Criteria – Capital Grants
Threshold Criteria #1 – Community Impact (Statutory)
As outlined in previous sections, the Cultural Facilities Fund statute establishes five threshold review criteria for all grants. All projects must provide evidence that they meet these five statutory criteria to be considered for a Cultural Facilities Fund Grant.

  • The project is an "eligible project"
  • There must be a demonstrated community need for the project*.
  • The project must be able to demonstrate that it will benefit tourism in the local area**.
  • There must be a demonstrated financial need for a grant.
  • The project must be able to demonstrate local support*.

*Please address “community need” and “local support” in terms of your cultural organization and/or programming.
**Tourism is defined as: “a person traveling 50 miles or more one way to a destination or who stays overnight”.

Threshold Criteria #2 – Financial Capacity
All projects that have demonstrated that they meet the statutory criteria must then demonstrate evidence of financial capacity to undertake and sustain the capital project. The grant review panel will make this determination based on the quality of your responses to the following Financial Capacity criteria.

Evidence that the proposed facilities project:

  • Demonstrates financial capacity to begin the project within 18 months of the grant approval date.
  • Has successfully entered three years of organizational and financial data (if your organization is new and three years of data is not available, you may enter less than three years) into the Cultural Data Profile and generated the Funder Report (for cultural nonprofits only – learn more).
  • Has the matching funds committed to the project or demonstrates an ability to raise the match within 18 months of the grant approval date. Thoroughly analyzes the impact the capital project will have on the organization’s future finances if expanding square footage or programming.
  • Has capital reserves in place or demonstrates an ability to successfully fund depreciation.

All projects that have demonstrated that they meet the above statutory and financial capacity threshold criteria will then be reviewed by the grant panel on the quality of the project's planning, transformative impacts and implementation.

Project Planning
Evidence that the proposed facilities project:

  • Is integral to the mission and to an overall strategic organizational plan.
  • Is appropriately sized, relative to the capacity and needs of the organization.
  • Is justified by evidence of market demand (for projects that either expand programming or square footage, or both.)
  • Addresses the impact the capital project will have on the organization's future operations.
  • Is in the context of an overall capital needs assessment, maintenance plan and/or replacement schedule.

Transformative Impact (For new construction projects only.)
Evidence that the new project:

  • Is located in an urban or village center.
  • Has a “transformative impact” on host community by improving the appearance of its immediately surrounding area.
  • Creates opportunities for additional private investment, supports neighborhood public/private partnerships, and increase of foot traffic in the area immediately surrounding the project.

Evidence that the proposed facilities project:

  • Includes a project budget that identifies all sources of funding (committed, pending and/or projected)
  • Includes a project budget where the project costs are prioritized and informed by professional third party bids.
  • Evidence that a project can begin and the match can be raised within 18 months of the grant approval date. 
  • Has identified and/or hired the project’s leadership and key contracted personnel and demonstrated they have the appropriate skills and capacity to implement the project.

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Application Instructions

There are three components to the application, outlined below. Only the submission of (1) the complete electronic application, (2) the completion of the Cultural Data Profile including Funder Report generation and (3) the mailing or hand delivery of the required/supplementary materials listed above will constitute a final and completed application.

I. Intent to Apply

  1. Please review the eligibility requirements for the Cultural Facilities Fund as defined by the statute.

  2. If you decide to proceed, create an organizational profile to access the Intent to Apply and online application. (Please note: If your organization already has a profile -- from a previously-submitted online application for CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, Cultural Facilities Fund, or YouthReach, you can skip this step and login using the username/password associated with your organization's profile.)

Complete the Intent to Apply (the Project Overview page) of the online application and submit it electronically by the Intent to Apply deadline: November 17, 2017.

Please note: The information in the Intent to Apply becomes the Project Overview page of the application, and can be changed anytime up until the application deadline. You do not need approval from the Mass Cultural Council after submitting the Intent to Apply to continue with the full application. Mass Cultural Council staff will contact you if any eligibility issues are identified.

II. Cultural Data Profile

All applicants (except municipalities, colleges, and universities) applying to the Cultural Facilities Fund for a Capital Grant must enter their last three years of financial, programmatic, and operational data into DataArts ' standardized online form. If this is the first time you are registering to complete your Cultural Data Profile (CDP), we strongly urge you begin working on this immediately following your Intent to Apply submission. Learn more about CDP.

If you are already participating in the Cultural Data Profile, make sure your three most recent years of data are submitted to the Mass Cultural Council by the application deadline and that you have generated a Funder Report. Cultural Investment Portfolio grantees currently in compliance with CIP Cultural Data Project requirements will just need to submit the same three most recent years of data to the Cultural Facilities Fund.

If you are a new organization, and do not yet have three years of organizational data, you should enter as many years as you can and contact Mass Cultural Council staff.

  1. Go to and create a new account under Nonprofit Organizationsto get started. Allow yourself enough time to fill out your organization’s information for your three most recent fiscal years.
  2. Search for the Mass Cultural Council under “Find Grants,” and submit your data to the Cultural Facilities Fund: Capital Grantees FY18 pool by the final application deadline, 5 p.m. on January 12, 2018.

Any questions you may have about CDP should be directed to the CDP Help Desk: 877-707-DATA (877-707-3282) or

III. Final Application

  1. Complete the online Capital Grant application, including any updates/changes to the Organizational Profile and/or Project Overview. Click the "final submission" button of the application by the deadline, 5 p.m. on January 12, 2018. The electronic component of your application will then be automatically sent to the Mass Cultural Council and you will receive an email confirming receipt of the narrative with a pdf copy of the application narrative attached for your records.

  2. Complete the Cultural Data Profile (non-profit organizations only; municipalities and institutions of higher education are exempt). 

  3. Mail or hand-deliver the following required and supplementary materials to the Mass Cultural Council, by the final deadline, 5 p.m. on January 12, 2018. You may mail in the supplementary materials in advance of "final submission" of the on-line application. There is no need to send the narrative answers from the electronic application. (Please note that this is NOT a postmark deadline. Hard copy materials must be in Mass Cultural Council staff hands by 5 p.m. on January 12, 2018.)

IV. Required Materials:

Please submit two complete and separate, collated sets of the following items in the order shown below. Please print items 1 – 3 single-sided on 8.5 x 11’ paper.  Do not use staples or binders. Please use paper/binder clips to separate sections.

  1. Project Budget: Please list both the "sources" and "uses" of funds in the project budget. In the "source" column indicate whether the funds are: "committed", "pledged", or "projected". In the "use" column indicate whether the costs are based on: a "contractor bid"; "architect estimate" , or "in-house estimate". In addition, please indicate your most critical needs and less critical needs. See a sample project budget (XLS).

  2. Timeline for your project. Be sure to include the scope-of -work accompanied by dates.

  3. Financial Information:

    Nonprofit Organizations:

    1. Income statements and balance sheets since your last audit, accountant’s review, or 990.
    2. Audited financial or draft audit statements for the three most recent fiscal years. (If your organization's annual budget is less than $500,000 and no audited financials are available, please provide the review statement by the accountant or internally prepared income and expense statements and balance sheets for the two most recent years. Audit statements are not required if the applicant is a municipality, but are required for all 501(c)3s including colleges and universities.)

    Municipalities: Facility-specific financials for the last three years for the subject facility. Audit statements are not required.

    Colleges and Universities:

    1. Audited Financial statements for the three most recent fiscal years.
    2. Facility-specific financials for the last three years for the subject facility.

The most recent year's financial statements must be unbound, one-sided, and printed on 8.5" x 11" paper only.

  1. Resumes, CVs, or other summaries of qualifications for all key project personnel (e.g., project manager and/or general contractor, architect, fundraising consultant, key organizational staff). [Please note: Project managers and general contractors must meet insurance and bond requirements appropriate to the nature and size of the project.]

  2. Board list and affiliations (not required for municipalities).

  3. Copy of Current Strategic Plan (if available). Please clearly indicate where the plan addresses cultural facilities and capital planning/maintenance.

  4. Copy of IRS 501(c)3 tax exemption letter (not applicable to municipalities).

  5. Copy of the lease, deed, or ground lease for your facility.

  6. Appropriate business plan materials (only required for acquisition, expansion of existing building, or new construction – not required for maintenance projects).

  7. Signed Purchase & Sale Agreement (for acquisition projects only).

  8. Letters of support

Optional Supplementary Materials:

Depending on your project, the following list of materials may help you make the case for funding.  Please submit any and all materials you think will help the review panel understand your project and its readiness to proceed.

Please submit two complete and separate, collated sets of any other materials that will help a review panel to assess your project (two-sided copies acceptable, please submit applicable materials in the following order). These may include but are not limited to:

  • Images of facility. Please follow the instructions.
  • Architectural plans for the building or renovation. (Summary plans are acceptable).
  • Project costs/ estimates from a contractor bid set or from an architect.
  • Zoning Variances, ZBA hearing dates, building permits or other evidence that regulatory approvals are in place or in process.
  • Copies of market studies, fundraising assessments or project and business feasibility studies, if applicable.
  • If available, architect and construction contract. (Summary pages of contracts acceptable)
  • Maintenance plans and replacement schedules for the facility.  (mechanical as well as the structural components of the facility, i.e. plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roof, siding, foundation, etc.)
  • Press clippings, editorials, or other materials that demonstrate community need and local support for the project.
  • Other materials, as relevant.
    Additional Materials for Transformative Impact Projects:
  • Provide a map identifying the location of your project and sites in the vicinity of your project that are in need of additional private investment and could be positively impacted by your project.


  • Provide letters from or agreements with the local partners (public or private) who you have identified as participants in your efforts to spur transformative impact as a result of your project.


  • If your project is part of or consistent with any municipal plan to improve the area,  provide a brief summary of such a plan, a link to the plan if available electronically, and a letter from the municipality saying your project is consistent with the plan. 

    Printed materials should  be held together by clips or rubber bands; please do not staple or use binders Two-sided printing is acceptable unless where otherwise noted. Please allow for at least 1" margins on all sides to allow for copying and binding of panel books.

Address mail to:
Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund Grant Program
Mass Cultural Council
10 St. James Ave., 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02116-3803