An organization is eligible to apply for funding of its arts activities if the organization is legally chartered in Tennessee and has its headquarters and home season, or activities equivalent to a home season for non-producing organizations, in Tennessee and meets either of the following qualifications::

    • The group is a chartered nonprofit organization with a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service declaring it exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.
    • The organization is a public or private educational institution (such as an elementary or secondary school), a school board, a governmental agency, or a college or university.

Private educational institutions must be nonprofit and meet the tax-exempt requirements explained above.

Colleges and universities are eligible only for activities that clearly serve the needs of surrounding communities or the state and are designed to involve community input during planning and a broad audience. Activities that are credit-producing or oriented primarily to university students and the academic community are not eligible.

Nonprofit organizations that are first time applicants will be asked to provide a copy of the organization’s current by-laws. Organizations must provide a valid IRS Employer Identification Number that is issued in the name of the applicant organization, a DUNS number, and upload a Corporation Annual Report (as filed with the TN Secretary of State’s office) with every application.

Any question of eligibility should be directed to the Commission before the application is submitted. First time applicants MUST contact the Commission to discuss the proposed project prior to application submission.

Arts Organization and Non-arts Organization Opportunities
An arts organization is defined as an organization whose mission is primarily dedicated to the arts, and with a majority (at least 51%) of annual activities that are arts-focused. Arts organizations are eligible to apply for all Commission grants except for those designated for K-12 schools or for individuals only.

Non-arts organizations are eligible to apply with a maximum request of $7,000 for the following Annual grants: Arts Project Support, Rural Arts Project Support and Arts Access. Non-arts organizations are also eligible to apply for Arts Education Community Learning, Teacher Training, and Funds for At-Risk-Youth grants as well as Touring grants. Non-arts organizations are not eligible to apply for Major Cultural Institution, Partnership Support, Cultural Education Partnership, Special Opportunity, Technical Assistance, and some Arts Education grants.

How your organization is defined has direct bearing on its range of eligibility for funding opportunities. If you are uncertain whether your organization qualifies as an arts organization, you should contact the Commission before submitting your application.

Matching Requirements
Many grant categories require a 1:1 (one-to-one) dollar cash match of the Commission funds requested in the application. An example of a 1:1 match is when the Commission funds an organization $5,000 and the organization matches the grant with an additional $5,000 cash (in most cases, use of in-kind expenses are not allowed as matching funds). Some grants are available that do not require a match, they are:

  • Arts Education Grants
  • Rolling Grants
  • Student Ticket Subsidy Grants

Although 1:1 match is not required for these categories, applicants are encouraged to include matching funds on the budget page to demonstrate the organization’s financial commitment to the project.

Additional Funding Information

• Statewide organizations must have statewide mission and board members located throughout the state
• Organizations with a standing deficit must submit a detailed plan to reduce that deficit with the application
• Faith-based organizations may apply for non-faith-based projects only
• Funding restrictions may apply, see individual guidelines and legal requirements

Multiple Applications
Applicant organizations may submit only one grant application per grant category per fiscal year, except for Student Ticket Subsidy. The following applicants may apply to more than one grant category per fiscal year, but the applications must be for completely different projects:

Major Cultural Institutions, Partnership Support, Cultural Education Partnership, Arts Project Support, Rural Arts Project Support applicants may also submit one Arts Access application and/or more than one Arts Education application per fiscal year; as long as the projects are entirely distinct and the applicant meets the eligibility requirements in the guidelines.

In addition to the annual grants listed above, Rolling grants with ongoing deadlines may also be sought for distinct projects, if the applicant meets eligibility requirements for the grant category. Please review the guidelines to confirm eligibility and that your project fits within the funding description.

NOTE: New applicants should contact the Commission before submitting applications in multiple categories.

Activities for K-12 Students

Eligible organizations that intend to apply for Project Support whose projects serve, or application primarily serves, K-12 students SHOULD  apply for Arts Education grants. 

Choose your program area:

Or choose a grant category on the Grants-At-A-Glance page.

For general information contact Hal Partlow, Associate Director for Grants at 615-741-2093.

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