Grant Guidelines 

Welcome to the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) works to enhance the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the city through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced via equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Support to the cultural sector via grants and programs are key ways MOAC carries out this mission.

Boston Cultural Council
The Boston Cultural Council (BCC), under the umbrella of the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, helps to ensure that grant making responds to the needs of the cultural community and that best practices for grant solicitation, review and disbursement are followed. The BCC annually distributes funds allocated by the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, to support innovative arts, humanities, and interpretive science programming that enhances the quality of life in our city.

The council members are Boston residents appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh for up to two consecutive three year terms. Council members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated commitment to Boston’s cultural community and their knowledge of various arts disciplines. The BCC reviews applications to evaluate the quality of proposed programming and potential benefit to diverse audiences in Boston.

Boston Cultural Council Equity Statement
To truly thrive, Boston must be an equitable city. For the Boston Cultural Council, equity means equal access to resources and equal value of all cultural traditions and expressions. Equity operates as an out-loud process of actively reflecting, including, and rewarding cultural, economic, and racial diversity in the arts.

The BCC actively encourages the creativity and engagement of all. We do this through our grantmaking guided by the Boston Creates cultural plan. Our grants emphasize fair opportunity, accessibility and understanding of Boston’s arts and cultural communities. Our programmatic, financial, and informational resources also pro-actively encourage equity and inclusion within the organizations we support.

Why We Fund What We Fund
The BCC seeks to enhance the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the city through the arts by investing in cultural organizations and cultural programs. We provide support through grants that reflect the goals of the Boston Creates cultural plan, which are to:

  1. Create fertile ground for a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture ecosystem.
  2. Keep artists in Boston and attract new ones here, recognizing and supporting artists’ essential contribution to creating and maintaining a thriving, healthy, and innovative city.
  3. Cultivate a city where all cultural traditions and expressions are respected, promoted, and equitably resourced, and where opportunities to engage with arts and culture are accessible to all.
  4. Integrate arts and culture into all aspects of civic life, inspiring all Bostonians to value, practice, and reap the benefits of creativity in their individual lives and in their communities.
  5. Mobilize likely and unlikely partners, collaborating across institutions and sectors, to generate excitement about, and demand and resources for Boston’s arts and culture sector.

Grant Categories

General Operating Support: Organizations with a budget of less than $1 million that are located in the City of Boston may apply for general operating support.

Project Support: Organizations with a budget of over $1 million may apply for project specific support. Organizations with a budget of under $1 million who are located outside of the City of Boston, but who offer programs in the City of Boston may apply for program specific support for their Boston-based programs.

Field Trip applications should no longer use this grant opportunity. Please apply to the Opportunity Fund.


  • Grants are available for up to $5,000.
  • Organizations may request up to 10% of their budget (not to exceed $5,000) or $1,000, whichever is greater.
  • Organizations not based in the City of Boston, but whose primary programming takes place in Boston, are eligible.
  • Organizations can receive funding in consecutive years.
  • Disciplines are no longer rotated annually.
  • Organizations whose primary mission is not arts and culture, but who are applying for a project that is entirely arts and culture related are eligible for funding.
  • Non-profits with L3C designations are eligible to apply.

Application Forms and Submission
All proposals must be submitted online (While we prefer to have all proposals submitted online, we also accept hand-written hard copies. Download a print copy of the application at Applications must be received on or before October 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm. No late applications will be accepted.

Review Process
Once received, grant applications are initially reviewed for eligibility and completeness. If eligible and complete, they are then read and evaluated by MOAC staff as well as members of the BCC, and scored against an evaluation rubric. Scores are then tallied, averaged and applications are then discussed in meetings during the fall and winter. Awardees will be notified of BCC funding decisions in January.

An applicant may request reconsideration of a decision on its application if the applicant can demonstrate that the BCC failed to follow published application and review procedures. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the Boston Cultural Council within fifteen (15) days of notification. No reconsideration may be requested regarding the amount or a decision made about artistic quality or programming priorities.

Grant Payment
During the 2019 grant cycle, all Boston Cultural Council grant  payments will be made in full and up front. Applicants must demonstrate at least a 1:1 match. The match can include in-kind (non-monetary gifts of goods and services) or donated contributions. Awardees have one calendar year from notice of award to submit a final report or be ineligible for funding in the next year.

Conflict of Interest
The Boston Cultural Council observes the Mass Cultural Council’s Conflict of Interest Policy regarding review panels. To ensure that all review panels are free from conflicts of interests, panelists are required to disclose any current or prospective affiliations they or their immediate family members have with an actual or potential applicant. “Affiliation” applies to employment, board memberships, independent contractual relationships, advisory or policy relationships, substantial contributor relationships, or other financial relationships. In addition, panelists are required to disclose any past or current adversarial relationships with actual or potential applicants. Panelists will not be permitted to participate in discussions or votes relating to applicants with whom they have an affiliation or relationship.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

  • Non-profit cultural organizations whose mission and programming is focused in the following disciplines: Music, Film and Video, Folk and Traditional Art, Visual Art, Theatre, Dance, Humanities, Literary Arts, Performance or Time-based Art, Social and Civic Practice, and Multi-Disciplinary Arts.
  • Non-profits whose mission is not primarily arts and culture based, but who are looking to fund arts and culture programs are welcome to apply.
  • City of Boston-based groupings of artists, humanists, and/or interpretive scientists jointly working toward common goals, using a fiscal agent in the City of Boston, whose work is primarily focused in the disciplines named above, may apply for a program grant for a program that takes place in the City of Boston.
  • Organizations can submit only one proposal per funding cycle.

Grant Fund Restrictions
Grant funding received may not be used for the following items:

  • To pay salaries or stipends for employees of the school system, library, parks department, or municipality.
  • On capital expenditures for schools, libraries, other municipal agencies.
  • On programming that discriminates or discourages participation on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, or age.

Evaluation Criteria
Once basic eligibility is met, proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria. Proposal narratives should address as many of these items as is relevant:

  • Does the organization demonstrate competent management and capacity to carry out the proposed work or programs?
  • How meaningful is the organization’s inclusion of diversity, equity, and inclusion as it relates to their leadership, board, staff, and programming? 
  • Does the organization meaningfully serve a historically underrepresented population? 
  • Does the proposed project provide public benefit and contribute to the cultural vitality of the community as a whole?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate meaningful representation of Boston's diverse communities?
  • Does the project have a qualified list of key artists, humanists, interpretive scientists or partner organizations available to lead its implementation?
  • Does the organization or project meaningfully reflect the ideals and goals of Boston Creates?

 Questions should be directed to


The City of Boston, as part of its Percent for Art program, invites artists or artist teams to apply to create permanent public artwork to complement the new Engine 42 fire station. 

Call released: August 13, 2018 

Deadline for responses: Extended to September 26, 2018

Budget: $300,000


This Call to Artists is open to all artists, artisans, architects, landscape architects, or teams with experience in public art, site responsive design, project management, and construction administration.

Click here to read the full RFP (to print, please download).

Artist Certification Guidelines

What is an Artist Certificate? 

An Artist Certificate is a letter from Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. The letter confirms that the artist has been reviewed by a committee of peers and is “certified” as a working artist. An Artist Certificate qualifies an artist as eligible for live/work and work spaces listed through the Artist Space program - spaces developed by the City of Boston. The Artist Certification is valid for a period of eight years. Upon expiration, the artist will need to reapply ro renew their certification. The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture keeps a list of all spaces for artists in the City of Boston, whether they require the Artist Certification or not. Review those spaces here.

Who is eligible for an Artist Certificate?

Applicants must able to demonstrate that they have a recent body (last three years) of fine artwork and must be at least 18 years of age. Artists in the following disciplines are considered:

  • Visual Arts: including painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, conceptual art, ceramics, woodworking, architecture/design, media arts, film, and new media.
  • Performing Arts: including dance, theater, and music.
  • Literary Arts: including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and spoken word.
  • Multidisciplinary Art

If you are a commercial artist who has an office space to do your work, and/or works for a company instead of for yourself (sole proprietor) we require examples of your personal fine art to ensure that you need an artist space for your artistic work.

Who reviews the applications?

The Artist Resource Manager in the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture reviews applications.

The decision of the Artist Resource Manager is final. If an applicant is not certified during this round, it is because they were not able to convey that they have been actively making art in the past three years through their application.

Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria.

  • Evidence of a recent body of work (last three years), demonstrated by an artist resume or CV that lists dates and locations of exhibitions, publications, performances, press, awards, artist residencies, jobs held in arts discipline field, and formal training if you have it.
  • Documentation of artwork including image files, video clips, and writing samples. Files must be dated or they will not be considered. 
  • Recommendations and letters of support from peers and professionals in the arts.

When are applications accepted?

Applications for the Artist Certification are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications are reviewed the last week of every month. If you submit your application by close of business on the last Tuesday of the month, your application will be reviewed that month.

When will I hear back about the status of my application?

You should expect to wait no more than 6 weeks to hear back.

What is Automatic Certification?

Automatic certification is granted to artists who have received any of the following awards in the last 3 years: the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, The Boston Foundation Brother Thomas Fellowship, the Boston Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, or the City of Boston Emerging Artist Award.

To receive automatic certification, please fill out your name and contact information in the Artist Certification application and upload your fellowship letter in the Work Samples section. Letter must prove reception of award in the past three years.

Boston City Hall

Call to Artists & Art Organizations

The Scollay Square Gallery, The Mayor’s Gallery, and 

The Mayor’s Neighborhood Gallery at Boston City Hall.


Seeking artists and artist organizations, that live or create in Boston to exhibit at Boston City Hall. Your submission will be kept on file for future consideration.


Selection process

  • This is an ongoing search, there is no deadline



The Boston Art Commission, housed within the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, advocates for the creation of innovative and transformative art and promotes its accessibility to enrich the lives of Boston’s diverse citizens and visitors. The Art Commission advises, supports, and consults with artists and communities, City departments, and others. It commissions, approves, and conserves the City of Boston’s collection of art and historical artifacts.

Please fill out the following form to propose both short and long-term public art and design interventions and installations on City of Boston property.

All applications will be reviewed by the Boston Art Commission at our monthly meeting, scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month. We ask for applications to be submitted 2 weeks before a BAC meeting and 6 weeks before the proposed start date, to allow us time to process the request and work with other departments for permissions and the insurance waiver scheduled BAC meeting.

Ends on October 31, 2018

Opportunity Fund Guidelines


The Opportunity Fund provides grants that support meaningful one-time opportunities for artists living in the City of Boston to further develop their career, and helps provide access to more opportunities for communities throughout the City of Boston to engage in arts experiences. The Opportunity Fund has five grant categories:

  • Artist Career Development 
  • Community Arts Experiences
  • Local Arts Events 
  • MCC Festivals Program Matching Grant
  • Field Trips

Application Cycle

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and will be reviewed every other month. Individuals may only receive grant funding from the Opportunity Fund once per year. See below dates to decide when to apply for the Opportunity Fund.
If you need funding between:Apply by this deadline:You will be notified if you received funding by:February 28-April 30, 2018December 30, 2017February 28, 2018April 30-June 30, 2018February 28, 2018April 30, 2018June 30-August 30, 2018April 30, 2018June 30, 2018August 30-October 30, 2018June 30, 2018August 30, 2018October 30-December 30, 2018August 30, 2018October 30, 2018December 30, 2018-February 28, 2019October 30, 2018December 30, 2018
It can take up to a month to receive funding after being awarded and submitting paperwork for payment of the Opportunity Fund.

Available Funds
In 2017-2018 $200,000 will be available for distribution from the Opportunity Fund. The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will make $33,333 available every other month.

Reporting Requirements
All grantees will be required to submit a final report that describes the outcomes of the experience and how the funds were used. Final reports must be filed online within one year of receiving your grant award letter. Please note that if you are awarded a grant, you or your fiscal sponsor will be required to apply for a Vendor ID number from the City of Boston in order to receive your funds.

Please continue reading for specific guidelines for each grant category:

Artist Career Development Grant

Who can apply? 

Individual artists living in the City of Boston who want to pursue meaningful one-time artistic opportunities to further their career such as:

  • Funding to help support an artistic project
  • Funding for materials
  • Funding for professional development opportunities

Who is eligible?

Artists residing within the City of Boston are eligible to apply for the Artist Career Development Grant if their annual household income is under 65% of area median income (AMI). Nearly 80% of Certified Artists surveyed make an income of under $50,000/year. See below for 2017 income limits:

Household Size65% AMI1$47,0502$53,8003$60,5004$67,2005$72,6006$78,000

What expenses are eligible?

  • Cost of materials
  • Cost of travel, conference, or residency fees and,
  • Costs related to an artistic project, such as help framing paintings before an exhibition

Community Arts Experience Grant

Who can apply?

Individual artists and/or teaching artists who would like to bring free arts experiences into a community located in the City of Boston.

  • The Community Arts Grant prioritizes bringing arts experiences into neighborhoods in the City of Boston that have been identified as having a lower concentration of arts activities that are free and open to the public. Priority communities include: Allston/Brighton, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Fenway/Kenmore, Roxbury, Mission Hill, and Mattapan.  
  • Experiences do not have to happen in these geographic areas, but these geographic areas will be prioritized. Whether applicants' arts experience will occur in one of these neighborhoods or not, applicants are encouraged to explain how the community they will serve through this art experience are underserved by arts activities in the City of Boston. 
  • Experiences can be in libraries, schools, or less traditional arts-learning spaces such as senior centers, health centers, or community centers.
  • Experiences must be free and open to the public.
  • If an experience includes showing a film, the film must be the applicants own work and/or the applicant must be able to prove permission to show this work.

Who is eligible?

Artists who are applying to bring arts experiences into communities can live anywhere, but the arts experience offered must occur in the City of Boston.

What expenses are eligible?

  • Materials for the arts experience
  • Compensation for artist(s) facilitating experience

Local Arts Event Grant

Who can apply?

Artists leading an established, annual community-based arts experience/event/festival can apply for funding to support their event. 

Who is eligible?

Organizers of a pre-existing event in the City of Boston that has been held at least once in past years. For example, all currently existing Open Studios cohorts are welcome to apply for this grant. Events must be free arts-focused events that are open to the public. Organizations who are receiving operational support from the Boston Cultural Council Organizational Grant are welcome to apply for the Event Grant.

Who is ineligible?

Organizations that received programmatic funding through the Boston Cultural Council Organizational Grant cannot receive funding through the Opportunity Fund in the same year. Organizations that received operational funding through the Organizational Grant are welcome to apply for this Event Grant.

What expenses are eligible?

  • Promotion and marketing materials such as: advertising, design and printing, marketing consultants, and production and design of and collateral such as maps and wayfinding. 
  • Supply and equipment needs for the event itself such as tables, tents, pop-up canopies, and chair rentals.
  • Shuttle rental
  • Fees paid to designers, artists, musicians, performers, celebrities, special guests, and speakers.

MCC Festivals Program Matching Grant

Who can apply? 

Organizations or individuals who are producing a festival occurring in the City of Boston who have received a Festivals Program grant from the Mass Cultural Council are eligible to receive a matching grant from the Opportunity Fund. 

Who is eligible?

Applicants can live anywhere, but the festival they are organizing must occur within the City of Boston.

What expenses are eligible?

  • 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.

Field Trips

Who can apply? 

Teachers at K-12 schools in the City of Boston who are planning arts and cultural field trips are welcome to apply for an Opportunity Fund Field Trip Grant to help support the costs of the field trip. Please note that if a BPS school is awarded funds they will be disbursed through the school system and not directly to a teacher, staff member, or administrator.

Who is eligible?

Applicants must be teachers or school administrators at public schools that are located in the City of Boston. This includes BPS schools and charter schools located in the City of Boston. This does not include universities and independent schools. Schools must be kindergarten, elementary, middle, or high schools.

What expenses are eligible?

  • Travel
  • Tickets
  • Food

City of Boston Arts and Culture