Mass Cultural Council Festival Grant

Featured image for “Mass Cultural Council Festival Grant”

Culture elevates the quality of life and well-being of communities across Massachusetts. Through Festivals & Projects, we support efforts that celebrate our vibrant cultural landscape. These $2,500 grants fund activities incorporating the arts, humanities, or sciences that provide community and/or public benefit.

Festivals & Projects provides one-year grants of $2,500 to support public activities incorporating the arts, humanities, or sciences, taking place between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.

How to Apply

  1. Read (and listen to) the program guidelines below and the Frequently Asked Questions. Download a sample application for nonprofit and unincorporated organizations. 
  2. Watch the information session recording and/or download the slide deckDrop-in on virtual office hours to ask staff questions. One-on-one support is also available. 
  3. Learn more about requesting an accommodation for accessibility or requesting translation services​
  4. Create a user profile or login to your account in the grants management system. (See details under “Grants Management System” below.) 
  5. Complete the online application which opens on April 25, 2023 and submit it by 11:59pm (ET) on June 8, 2023. 

Questions? Email program staff or call 617-858-2821.

Program Guidelines

Program Eligibility

You are eligible to apply if you have a festival, project, or activity that:

  • Incorporates the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. (Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more guidance.)
  • Is intended for and promoted to members of the general public, OR intentionally serves portions of the general public requiring specific accommodations. (i.e. seniors in care centers, incarcerated individuals, people with disabilities, people in recovery programs, etc.) Projects benefiting any private individual or group are ineligible. (Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more guidance.)
  • Has the majority of its publicly-available activity taking place between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024. (Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more guidance.)
  • Has a minimum project budget of $2,500 in cash expenses (including all indirect costs and overhead).
  • Takes place in Massachusetts, whether in person or virtually.
  • Is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Does not have the effect of advancing religion.
  • Is not an event for a political candidate running for office.
  • Does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Any festival, project, or activity will only be funded once. If you have a recurring festival, project, or activity that happens every year, you will be able to apply once per grant cycle.

If you have any questions about whether your organization’s work is eligible for this grant, contact us before starting the application.

Who Can Apply

We encourage you to apply if your group/collective/organization is:

A federally-recognized tribe, or Native American, Indigenous, or Urban Indian organization, with ties to the land that is currently known as “Massachusetts”.


An organization incorporated in Massachusetts, including:

  • Non-profit corporations
  • For-profit corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies (LLC)


A Massachusetts state or municipal entity such as a Local Cultural Council, Cultural District, public library, recreational department, etc.


An unincorporated organization that conducts the majority of your programming in Massachusetts. Unincorporated organizations must have a Massachusetts address and apply with a fiscal agent. (Refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more guidance.)

Each organization can only submit one application.

Organizations receiving funding from Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio (including Gateway) or YouthReach programs in FY23 are not eligible to apply.

Review Process

Mass Cultural Council staff review all applications to confirm eligibility. Mass Cultural Council will make every effort to ensure accuracy but cannot be held accountable for missing or incorrect information in the relevant sources.

If eligible applications exceed available funding, the Funding Prioritization and Geographic Distribution details below will be used to determine which applications will be funded.

Funding Prioritization: Mass Cultural Council envisions a diverse creative and cultural sector that is valued as essential in the Commonwealth. To that end, priorities have been established to support programmatic practices that advance equity, diversity, and inclusion through our services to the sector. Prioritization will include the following:

  • Festivals, projects, or activities that significantly incorporate, and/or are primarily focused on arts, humanities, or sciences.
  • Applicants that have not received funding from Mass Cultural Council in the last three fiscal years (FY23, FY22, FY21), or that are applying for the first time.
  • Applicants participating in the Agency’s Card to Culture. (Applicants may sign-up for this voluntary non-granting program in the Agency’s grants management system.)
  • Festivals, projects, or activities that are free to the public.
  • Applicants and projects that have been historically underfunded:
    • Applicants that self-identify as led by and serving people of the global majority — Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Latinx, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, and all other ethnicities of color. (Applicants wishing to make this BIPOC Centered Organization identification will need to fill out a form in the Agency’s grants management system.)
    • Festivals, projects, or activities in cities and towns that are below the state’s median household income and below statewide educational attainment. This includes but is not limited to places designated as Gateway Cities. A full list of these under-resourced communities is available.

Applicants operating under parent entities are advised that, if demand exceeds available funding, Mass Cultural Council may limit the number of grants awarded to any one parent organization.

Geographic Distribution: To ensure equitable geographic distribution, Mass Cultural Council will try to make sure that the number of grantees is proportionate to the number of applications from each region.

The regions are as follows:

  • Greater Boston
  • Central
  • Metrowest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Western

For example, if applications from the Southeast region make up 15% of the total applications received, the Southeast region will be allocated roughly 15% of the grants made.

In the event we cannot fund all eligible applications: After prioritization and geographic distribution have been applied, if several applications with the same prioritization factors are tied for the final available award(s), a lottery style randomization will be used to determine how the tie will be broken.


Application Opens: April 25, 2023
Information Sessions: April 27 and May 3, 2023
Application Deadline: June 8, 2023 (11:59 PM EST)
Applicant Notification: Early September 2023
Contract Sent: Mid to Late-September 2023
Final Report Due: July 18, 2024

Grant Payment

To receive the funds awarded through this program, grantees must complete the following documentation:

  • State Contract and attachments
  • Electronic Funds Transfer Form
  • W-9

All the necessary documents will be emailed to grantees to complete. Grantees who do not have a bank account that the funds can be transferred to can notify the Contract Officer at the time of award notification to request a mailed check. Grantees using a fiscal agent will not be paid directly, the fiscal agent will complete the contract and receive the payment on the grantees’ behalf.

Electronic deposits will be made to the grantee’s account (or a check will be mailed) 20-45 days after the grantee returns their contract. Mass Cultural Council will make every effort to expedite payments as quickly as possible.

Grant Requirements

  • Final Report
    Grantees will be expected to complete a simple final report describing the use of their grant funds by July 18, 2024, for legislative reporting and advocacy purposes.
  • Acknowledgement of Funding
    Grant recipients are required to credit Mass Cultural Council for funding. Attachment D of your contract package or the online Credit and Publicity Kit has more details.

Compliance with Laws and Regulations

Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are contractually committed to abide by state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities. Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. 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. Resources and additional information are available as part of Mass Cultural Council’s Access Policy.

Legal and Other Requirements

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination Policy

Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensuring that all programs, services, policies, and practices are 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.

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, and does not discriminate on the basis of these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs and services by removing any barriers to accessibility.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact staff for help. To facilitate your request in a timely manner, please contact us at least three weeks before any Mass Cultural Council event or grant deadline. Please read the full Access Policy for more information.

Reconsideration Policy

An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on their 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.

The first step in the reconsideration process is to consult with the appropriate Program Staff to discuss the review process that concluded in the 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.

Grants Management System

All applicants should submit their applications through the online system. To create a profile in the system you must have an email address, which will be your username.

If you have not applied to Mass Cultural Council before and/or do not already have a user profile, complete a registration in the grants management system:

  • Go to the online system and click “Register”.
  • On the next page select “Organization” to register your organization, school, town, or other group.
  • Your organization may already have a record in the system. Use the Organization name field to find and select your organization, then provide your contact information.
  • If your organization’s name is not listed, click the link at the top of the page to register your organization manually. There you will also provide your own contact information as well.
  • After completing the registration, you should receive an email to activate your account. The account must be activated within 24 hours. After clicking the activation link, you will be prompted to create a new 8-digit password.

If you have previously applied for a Mass Cultural Council grant using your email address, you may have a profile in the system already. Here’s how you can check to see if you already have a user profile:

  • Go to the online system and click “Forgot Password”.
  • Once you submit your email address, you will receive an email with a temporary password and a link to the site.
  • Copy the password to use on the login page, you will then be prompted to create a new password.
  • If you do not receive an email, you do not have an account and you should create one (see above), or you can contact the grants help desk for assistance.

Proceed to the Online Application