Artistic Quality

    Supporting and stimulating excellence in the arts throughout Virginia is the responsibility of the Commission.

    Artistic quality is the first consideration in the decision to fund any arts organization or arts activity. The Commission supports artistic excellence where it already exists, encourages growth in artistic quality, and works to make this artistic excellence available to all Virginians. The advisory panels make evaluations of artistic quality.

    The Commission chooses the panelists for their knowledge of and experience in the arts. They attend activities of the Commission grantees and have first-hand knowledge of the quality of the work of the organizations.

    Access to the Arts

    The Commission strives to make quality arts experiences available and accessible to all Virginians, regardless of age, ability, gender, geographic location, race, or socio-economic status.

    The Commission supports existing arts organizations in all parts of the Commonwealth and encourages new organizations that serve people with limited access to the arts.

    In addition, the Commission makes a substantial investment in performing arts touring each year as a way of increasing the availability of high quality arts throughout the Commonwealth.

    All applicants are expected to consider the needs and abilities of special populations, such as geography, age, gender, race and socio-economic status when planning their programs.


    The Commission believes that it is through the arts we celebrate the diverse cultures of this country.

    The Commission funds arts organizations, artists, and arts activities that preserve and present the many cultures of contemporary life in the Commonwealth.

    Commission grantees that are serving racially, ethnically, and/or culturally diverse communities are expected to actively seek racial, ethnic, and/or cultural diversity in their artists, audiences, boards, and staff. Applications for funding should fully describe all efforts to create this diversity.

    Assistance to Individual Artists

    The Commission relies on a healthy, vital and productive arts infrastructure that supports Virginia’s individual artists, arts entrepreneurs, businesses and institutions.

    The Commission provides leadership in supporting the arts infrastructure of artists and arts professionals in their development and ability to support themselves through their work. Additionally, the Commission supports artist retreats, access centers for equipment and studio/rehearsal space, and organizations that provide information and advisory services for individual artists.

    Development of Arts Organizations

    The Commission provides ongoing support for established arts organizations and helps in the development of new arts organizations which fill a community need.

    In deciding which organizations to support, the Commission looks for high standards of artistic quality and management, as well as the amount of local commitment to an organization in terms of attendance and financial support.

    The Commission funds both professional and nonprofessional organizations that strive for artistic excellence. The Commission defines a “professional” organization as one composed of, hiring, or serving artists who earn or endeavor to earn their living through the practice of their art.

    The Commission provides technical assistance to arts organizations by paying for staff and board members to attend workshops and seminars and funding short term consultations on management problems.

    The Commission views its financial assistance role to arts groups as that of a catalyst, helping to strengthen private and local support of the arts. The Commission believes in a diversified funding base for arts organizations.

    Organizations receiving funding from the Commission are expected to earn as much income from ticket sales/admission fees as possible, while seeking contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government. This philosophy recognizes that government resources are limited while demands for services are high, and that the arts are healthier when open to diverse influences and not financially dependent on any single source of support.

    Some arts organizations exist to present the work of one artistic leader and are not intended to continue after that leader is gone. Other, equally worthy arts organizations have a more broad-based artistic philosophy and are intended to continue serving their communities beyond the tenure of the original artistic leader. The Commission strongly encourages this second group of organizations to build cash reserve funds and endowment funds to ensure financial stability in the future.

    Arts Education

    The Commission values and promotes the arts as a key element in lifelong learning and recognizes the essential role of arts learning and education in the intellectual and creative growth of Virginians of all ages. The study of the arts is essential to human development and the education of all citizens. Authentic arts’ learning is experiential and begins in childhood and continues through adulthood. The Commission serves as an advocate for arts education providing support for arts experiences that inspire and ignite imagination. There are no age restrictions on creativity.

    The Commission’s Arts in Education Program provides Virginians of all ages with opportunities for direct residency experiences with teaching artists to encourage a sustainable creative culture. These resources are meant to enhance and support sequential, curriculum-based arts instruction delivered by certified arts teachers in preK-12 schools and expand quality arts access to underserved populations.