Arts Access Annual Grant
Fiscal Year 2019
Deadline: Monday, January 22, 2018, by 11:59 p.m. (CST)


The Arts Access Annual Grant (AA) category offers direct support for arts projects which focus on increasing access to underserved and underrepresented populations which may include ethnic groups*, people with disabilities, people age 65 years and older, and active duty military/veterans and their families.

*Ethnic groups are defined as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or other groups that constitute less than the state’s current majority population.

Proposed arts projects must involve one or more of these recognized art forms: visual, craft, media, design, music, theater, dance, folk or literary arts. The following are examples of activities and expenditures that are consistent with the funding philosophy for AA:

  • Contracted artists fees for professional artists
  • Master classes, workshops, programs, projects or activities involving artists
  • Specific aspects of workshops, festivals and conferences
  • Public performances, productions and exhibitions produced by the applicant
  • Exhibitions of art by professional artists
  • Promotion, publicity and newsletters
  • Materials and supplies needed for participants in the proposed art project
  • Administrative and artistic staff support
  • Technical/production support

A project may start no earlier than July 1, 2018, and must end no later than June 15, 2019.

Funds awarded to a single organization in this category range in these amounts: $500 to $9,000 for arts organizations; $500 to $7,000 for non-arts organizations; and arts organizations serving a statewide audience can apply for up to $10,000.

The requested grant amount must be matched dollar for dollar (1:1). Funding will depend upon an organization’s rating in the review process (see Evaluation Criteria) and upon the total amount of funds available to the Tennessee Arts Commission for grant allocation. This grant category is competitive.

An organization may submit only one AA application for any given fiscal year. AA applicants may also apply in the following grant categories:

  • Arts Project Support
  • Rural Arts Project Support
  • Arts Build Communities
  • Partnership Support
  • Cultural Education Partnership
  • Major Cultural Institution
  • Arts Education categories (if eligible)*

*K-12 schools are not eligible under this category. Arts education-based projects, especially those primarily serving youth, must be submitted in one of the four Arts Education grant categories. 

Eligibility Requirements

An organization is eligible to apply for funding if the organization is legally chartered in Tennessee, has an active IRS 501(c)3 status, can provide a current copy of the organization’s by-laws, and a DUNS number. Failure to provide all nonprofit status documentation will result in the application being disqualified.

Arts organizations that receive revenue from a “New Specialty Earmarked Plate” under T.C.A 55-4-215 (a) (1) are ineligible for Commission grant funding.

Additional eligibility requirements and funding restrictions may apply. Please see Legal Requirements for further details.

The Tennessee Arts Commission reserves the right to deny any application, if the proposed activity is outside of the scope or spirit of the agency’s mission, purpose, or this grant program.

Evaluation Criteria & Panel Review

Commission staff will contact all applicants and inform them of the advisory panel review schedule. Advisory panels reviewing grant applications for this program use the following evaluation criteria citing evidence that:

  • The proposed project demonstrates artistic, cultural and/or educational value while increasing access to underserved/underrepresented people (i.e., the community being served) (10 points)
  • The proposed project advances the organization’s mission to the community being served (10 points)
  • The organization understands and is responsive to the diverse interests and needs of the community it serves by having a board that is reflective of the project or community population it is projecting to serve (10 points)
  • The proposed project supports the work of artists through payment of fees, services or appropriate benefits (10 points)
  • The organization understands and acts as an advocate for the public value of the arts in the community (10 points)
  • The planning procedures are comprehensive, inclusive and communicated (10 points)
  • The organization understands principles of documentation and evaluation and results are used to guide future planning and programming (10 points)
  • The organization understands and demonstrates the value of public and private partnerships (5 points)
  • The organization demonstrates financial stability and a broad base of financial support (5 points)
  • The organization’s ability to carry out proposed project based on history of Commission funding (10 points)
  • The organization’s application is well planned, addresses all questions, and is correct and complete in all information provided (10 points)

The Tennessee Arts Commission reserves the right to deny any application, if the proposed activity is outside of the scope or spirit of the agency’s mission, purpose, or this grant program.


All Commission sponsored programs, services and facilities are fully accessible to all Tennessee artists and citizens. Organizations are urged to consider contracting with diverse artists, artists living with disabilities, and/or artists representing Tennessee’s diverse artistic and cultural heritage. No person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion or sex shall be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, or otherwise be subject to discrimination of services, programs and employment provided by the Commission and its contracting agencies. If an individual believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination, he/she should contact the Commission’s Director of Arts Access, Kim Johnson (615) 532-9797.

Deadline and How to Apply
  1. First time applicants must “register” (see step #2) and complete an “organization” and “people” profile (steps #3-5) before applying for a grant. Returning applicants are advised to check the “organization” & “people” profile, and if correct proceed to apply for a grant (step #6).
  2. Register to use the new Online Grants System. You are strongly advised to register well in advance to the application deadline.Anyone registering close to the deadline date can expect delays in the processing of their grant application.
  3. Log in to the new Online Grants System to complete your “Organization” profile and begin an application for a AA grant.
  4. Use the “Organizations” tab on the left-hand menu to ensure that the profile is complete and accurate. This information is as important as the application itself. Incomplete or erroneous data will impact your chances for funding. To edit the profile, click the “Edit” button at the top of the Organization screen.
  5. Use the “People” tab on the left-hand menu to ensure that your “People” profile is complete and accurate. This information will also be used in the review of the application. To edit the profile, click the “Edit” button at the top of the screen.
  6. When both your “Organization” and “People” profiles are complete and accurate, select the “Apply for Grants” tab again and choose the AA grant application link.
  7. Complete all of the application fields.
  8. Create and upload required attachments.
  9. Submit by Monday, January 22, 2018, by 11:59 p.m. (CST).

NOTE: The forms in this portal do not auto-save. Always click the “Save” button before navigating away from the form you are editing to save your work.

Beware—clicking the back navigation button on your web browser will exit you from the system and you will lose your work.

Association or Connection to Multiple Organizations: If you are associated with more than one organization, the organization that you were originally associated with will prepopulate in the organization name field on any newly opened application. To change to another associated organization, simply delete the prepopulated name and type in the correct organization.

Required Documents in the Application

You will be prompted to create and upload the following documents in the Required Documents section of your Annual Application in the Online Grants System.

  1. Proof of Arts Advocacy. Advocacy is educating and communicating to the public, including public officials, the importance of the arts and how public support of the arts can and has impacted your community. Examples of arts advocacy proof may include membership in Tennesseans for the Arts, copies of recent letters to legislators and other elected officials, photos of elected officials at the applicant’s arts events, newspaper articles that create awareness about public support for the arts through the organization’s activities (news articles that primarily market events are not acceptable), promoting the Specialty License Plate program and other pertinent print materials. Proof of advocacy must be demonstrated by the applicant organization. Applicants may notsubmit advocacy efforts conducted by contracted personnel. Multiple examples of arts advocacy will strengthen the application, but only one example that proves advocacy is required.
  2. Bios & Job Descriptions. Short, biographical statements and job descriptions of administrative and artistic personnel including those contracted who are involved in the grant activities. Full resumes should only be included with the supplementary materials.
  3. List of Board of Directors. Only nonprofit organizations with 501(c) 3 status will be prompted to upload this document. The board list (at the time of application) must include the following:
  • Full Name
  • Occupation
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Number of years on the board
  • Length of term(s)
  • Notations identifying which members represent underserved populations: persons of
    color (C), persons with disabilities (D), and senior citizens over 65 (S). If no
    underserved populations are represented on the board, please indicate.

NOTE: Other biographical information about individual board members should NOT be included on this list. Legal requirements state that Commission funds granted to an organization may not be used as a payment of any kind, for any purpose, to members of an organization’s board.

  1. Corporation Annual Report: Only nonprofit organizations with 501(c) 3 status will be prompted to upload this document (as required to be filed annually with the Secretary of State’s Office). In lieu of the report, you may also submit a copy of the email verification issued by the Secretary of State’s office or a copy of the online verification sheet maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office found here. Entities of government do NOT submit.
Required Documents in the Organization Profile

Bylaws: Only nonprofit organizations with 501(c) 3 status need to upload this document. Upload the most recent copy of the organization’s Bylaws into the “Organization” profile where prompted, not into the grant application.

Additional Documents

You will NOT be prompted to upload these documents in the system, but these documents may be required based on your applicant type.

Optional Materials. These include proof of advocacy, project examples. These documents can be uploaded in the “Documents” section below the “Required Documents” section of your application. Accepted file types include .pdf, .jpg, or .png. For video and audio samples, provide links to projects in the section labeled “Optional Material Link(s)” below the “Documents” section.

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