Ends on October 15, 2018

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 boston.gov/artsgrants). 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 bcc@boston.gov.