Assist organizations of artistic
merit in fulfilling their missions by providing funds to maintain their stability and encourage their advancement.
These grants provide general operating support to Virginia arts organizations to continue, strengthen,
and expand their programs.
Virginia organizations whose primary purpose is the arts (excluding units of government and educational institutions and their private companion foundations), that have an independent governing board, that meet the Basic Eligibility criteria, and that are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Organizations must be incorporated in Virginia before applying for General Operating Support and must have completed three years of programming. Applicants for General Operating Support are required to present at least three different programs or services for the public in Virginia each year.
A Virginia arts organization is defined as one whose primary purpose is the arts, that is incorporated in the state, and that has its headquarters and home season, or activities equivalent to a home season for non-producing organizations, in the state.
Applicants that are at least three years old must have a previous year’s income of at least $10,000 in cash. Organizations with smaller budgets may be eligible to apply for Project Grants or Technical Assistance.
NOTE: First-time General Operating Support applicants must contact the Commission staff before
applying to confirm eligibility. Organizations applying for General Operating Support are not eligible for Project Grant funding.
Avocational Organizations. Priority in this funding program will be given to organizations that pay artists. Avocational organizations may be funded in this program if they provide specific services or programs that would otherwise not be available in that particular geographic area. Avocational organizations may apply in the other grant programs of the Commission.
Festivals. In order to be eligible for General Operating Support a festival must be a separately
incorporated Virginia organization with a year-round administrative staff and a yea
r round presence in the community; have as its primary purpose the arts, spend the majority of its budget on arts activities; last longer than three consecutive days; hire professional artists; and include education and outreach programs as part of the festival. Other festivals may apply for Project Grants and Touring Assistance.
Educational Organizations. Organizations that exist primarily to provide arts education should meet the following criteria:
- The instructors should be professionals or former professionals in their fields
- Classes should be aimed at acquiring skills at ever-increasing levels of difficulty
- Classes should be focused on development of skills rather than being primarily rehearsals for a performance
Vocal and Musical Ensembles. Vocal and musical ensembles that perform primarily pop, Broadway, or
barbershop music, or that focus
primarily on competitions are not eligible for General Operating Support
but are eligible to apply for Project Grants for new initiatives or for Technical Assistance.
Diversity. Applicants that are serving racially, ethnically, and/or culturally diverse c
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.
Diversified Funding Base. Applicants are
expected to earn as much income from ticket
sales/admission fees as possible, while seeking contributions from individuals, corporations,
foundations, and government, as well as income from special fund
raising activities. This philosophy
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
- Special projects
- Maintenance / operation
The Commission awards all General Operating Support Grants for a one year period. Each grantee is required to submit an application annually.
Organizations that have been funded by the Commission in the General Operating Support category in past year will be notified by the Commission in early
December about what information will be required for the application deadlines.
All new applicants must contact the Commission before applying to determine eligibility.
Short Form Applications are due February 1, 2017 by 5:00 p.m ., for expenses occurring between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
This is not a postmark deadline
Short form applications are
staff and Commission members only. If accepted, short form applicants will be awarded at the
same priority level as in FY17.
General Operating Support grantees
should submit a short form for the FY18
grant cycle with the exception of GOS grantees that were downgraded in priority level from last
year. These organizations
submit a long form if they wish to be
considered for funding in
Long Form applications are due by March 1, 2017
, by 5:00 p.m., for expenses occurring between
July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
a long form, and current GOS applicants who were downgraded in priority ranking last year
a long form or opt to submit a short form application and receive the same priority funding as in the
For the FY18 grant cycle, l
form applicants will be reviewed by
a single statewide multi
panel with representation from across the Commonwealth and reflecting the
geographic and demographic diversity of the state.
W-9 Form Requirement
Plan ahead! All organizations applying to the Virginia Commission for the Arts are required to provide a W-9. Download a W-9 form, HERE.
DUNS Number Requirement
All applicants must include their DUNS number when applying for a grant.Obtaining your DUNS number is a free, straightforward process. For more information, click here.
the grant is awarded, the organization must submit a year
end report no later than June 1 of each year
in order to receive the second payment for the grant. Failure to submit a final report by June 1 will
impact future funding in the next grant year.
n organization undergoes a substantive change in its
mission, its artistic leadership, or its management during the grant period, the Commission must be
notified immediately. If in the opinion of the Commission such changes alter the purpose for which the
grant was awarded, the Commission may require the organization to submit justification for continuing to
receive the grant funds
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Amount of Assistance
Organizations approved for funding will receive no more than 10% of their previous year's cash income, less Commission support, commissions to artists, facility rental income for non-arts activities, money paid to the organization for out-of-state trips or tours by the people taking the trips or tours, and money raised for capital purposes in the previous year. Most organizations will receive less than the maximum, and no organization is guaranteed a specific funding amount. Minimum grant awards will be $500 per year; maximum grant awards will be $200,000 per year.
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Criteria for Evaluating Applications
- Artistic excellence
- Effective management
- Service to the community
Artistic Excellence is the first and most important standard of review. The organization has high-quality
activities that achieve a distinct artistic vision consistent with the applicant’s mission and goals. The Commission supports organizations with a wide variety of artistic programs, including both the
preservation of an artistic heritage and the presentation of new works and new artists.
Effective Management is measured by the organization’s capacity to effectively manage its operations and resources as reflected by organizational stability and fiscal position. The organization has a sound, board approved business or strategic planning process that shows evidence that the organization is maximizing its opportunities to generate earned income and contributed income. The organization has a strong board composition, staff qualifications, and clearly articulated roles and responsibilities.
Public Service and Public Benefit to the Community includes efforts to expand the applicant’s reach through partnerships that work to make the arts a vital part of community life. The organization has a commitment to arts education for Virginians of all ages as part of or beyond the organization’s regular
programming. The organization makes the arts a vital part of economic development for the organization’s home community, its region or the state.
In evaluating the applications the Commission will take into account whether the requested grant will result in significant programs for the community that could not be provided within the applicant's existing financial resources. The Commission will also evaluate the general merits of each application relative to others being considered.
NOTE: The Commission requires General Operating Support grantees that have income of over $600,000 for at least two consecutive years to submit an opinioned, independent audit of their financial records every year.
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Application Review/Payment Procedure
- Applicants submit the information requested by the Commission each year. The Commission staff is available for consultation on applications, and to review drafts of applications before the application deadline. If assistance is needed, contact the Commission office at least four weeks before the deadline. Organizations planning to apply to the Commission should Include the panelists and Commissioners on their mailing lists.
- Applicants submit completed application forms by the deadlines (not a postmark deadline). NO EXCEPTIONS. The Commission will not accept any application materials via facsimile transmission or other electronic means (e.g. e-mail).
- The Commission staff reviews each application for completeness and eligibility. Incomplete or ineligible applications will not be reviewed and will be returned to the applicant with an explanation.
- Copies of the applications are sent to the members of the statewide panel.
- The panelists independently review each application prior to the panel meeting.
- The panel meets with two members of the Commission staff. Commissioners attend panel meetings as observers. Applicant representatives may attend the panel meeting as observers but may not make a presentation to the panel. The panel makes its recommendations after group discussion. Names of Commissioners and advisory panelists, as well as dates and locations of Commission and panel meetings, are available from the Commission office and on the Commission website. Applicants are encouraged to invite the panelists and Commissioners to their public arts events in advance of the panel meetings.
- Following the panel meeting, the Commission staff makes a recommendation on each application.
- The board of the Commission then reviews the recommendations of the panel and staff and takes final action on the applications.
- Applicants are notified of Commission action by mail. The appeals process for applications not awarded funds can be found in the appeals section of the guidelines.
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Application and Final Report Forms
Major Arts Institutions
Organizations that meet the standards described below will be reviewed by a statewide, multidisciplinary panel in alternating years. These organizations will follow the same guidelines and application procedures as other applicants for General Operating Support.
In addition, Major Arts Institutions must have the following:
- Have significant economic and artistic impact in its region of the state
- Must pay its performers. Organizations that have the purpose of presenting the visual arts must have professional curators who select the work to be shown. These organizations may not charge fees to artists for the exhibition of their work.
- Employ full time administrative staff
- Have boards of directors with the authority and skills to guide the organization
- Have been reviewed and approved for full funding in operating support from the Commission for
at least four years prior to being considered by the Commission to be a major arts institution
- Have previous year’s cash income of at least $1,500,000. Substantial income for non-arts activities,
such as facility rental income, is not included in the income minimum
- Have education/outreach programs
- Have opinioned, independent audits of their financial records each year