Application and Forms
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.
Current FY21 GOS grant awardees that are 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 or Technical and Organizational Development Assistance grants.
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 year 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.
- The organization should have a diversified funding base, beyond tuition and ticket sales for public performances, that shows widespread community support.
- Scholarships should be available for low-income students. There should be an active effort to recruit students from all segments of the community.
- In addition to instruction, there should be regular opportunities for students to perform or exhibit for the public.
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.
Diversified Funding Base. Applicants are expected to earn as much income from ticket sales/admission fees as possible, and seeking contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government, including from special fundraising activities when feasible. This philosophy recognizes that government resources are limited while demands for services are high and that the arts are healthier when open to diverse stakeholders and not financially dependent on any single source of support.
- Special projects
- Maintenance / operation
For FY22, no new GOS applications will be accepted (during the typical cycle of submission that would take place in spring 2021). Only those organizations that applied and received GOS funding for FY21 will be eligible to apply in this category. All other organizations may apply in other categories if eligible.
All current General Operating Support grantees should submit an online Short Form application no later than February 1, 2021 by 5:00 PM, for expenses occurring between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. Short form applications are reviewed by the staff and Commission members only. If accepted, Short Form applicants will be awarded at the same priority level as in FY21 with eligible income averaged from FY19 and FY20.
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.
If the grant is awarded, the organization must submit a year-end report no later than June 1 in order to receive the second (final) grant payment. Failure to submit a final report by June 1 will impact future funding in the next grant year, and may impact subsequent years. If an 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.
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.
Criteria for Evaluating Applications
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: Typically, the Commission requires General Operating Support grantees with income over $600,000 for at least two consecutive years to submit an opinioned, independent audit of their financial records each year. In light of financial challenges related to COVID 19, for FY 22 applications, the Commission will allow organizations with budgets exceeding $600,000 to submit board/treasurer approved IRS 990s in lieu of independent opinioned audits.
Application Review/Payment Procedure
In FY22, there will be no panel for GOS Short Form applicants.
- 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, if received at least four weeks before the deadline. Organizations applying to the Commission are encouraged to include the panelists and Commissioners on their mailing lists.
- Applicants (FY21 grantees) must complete and submit the Short Form online application by the posted deadline. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.
- 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.
- The Commission staff makes recommendations on each application.
- The Commission Board then reviews the recommendations of the staff, and takes final action on the applications.
- Applicants are notified of Commission action by email.
- The Commission will generally pay 85% of each year’s grant amount by August 15. The final 15% will be paid within 30 days after the Commission receives the final report on the grant. The Commission reserves the right to use an alternative payment schedule in special circumstances. Final reports must be submitted after the completion of all funded activities or by June 1 at the latest.
Major Arts Institutions
Organizations that meet the standards described below 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
The Commission staff will submit to the Commission Board for their approval any arts organization that meets the above criteria to be moved into the Major Arts Organizations category. The Commission staff will also notify the Commission Board of any Major Arts Organization that does not meet the above criteria for three consecutive years. The Commission may vote to remove the organization from this category.
NOTE: An arts organization cannot opt out of being in the Major Arts Organization category once it has met the above criteria.
For questions about the General Operating Support Grants, contact:
Virginia Commission for the Arts