Special Opportunities – COVID-19 Arts Resilience Grant

Support for nonprofit organizations and local governments to support creative responses to COVID-19 through the arts.

The COVID-19 Arts Resilience Grant for Fiscal Year 2022 provides non-matching funds for nonprofit organizations and local governments ($500-5,000 (reimbursement only)) to support creative responses and rebuilding efforts related to COVID-19 through the arts.

This opportunity endeavors to engage the creative sector in ways that strengthen communities through projects that enhance community and organizational sustainability, resiliency and rebuilding; create a sense of belonging and place; advance community and public health efforts; document this unprecedented moment; and promote community dialogue. In addition, applications should consider ways to enlist and employ artists and creative workers in innovative, responsive initiatives that benefit Tennesseans and their communities and stimulate economic recovery. To qualify for this opportunity, applicants must meet eligibility requirements, and projects must meet at least one of the following objectives:

Applications are encouraged that

  1. Invest in arts and cultural assets to enhance everyday life for all Tennesseans.
  2. Foster innovation and excellence.
  3. Accelerate transformation of rural areas through the nonprofit arts and creative sector.
  4. Strengthen community vibrancy through cross-sector and public/private partnerships with the arts.
  5. Facilitate community arts learning for all Tennesseans.

Artistic examples include, but are not limited to, public art projects; murals; virtual music, dance, or theater performances for seniors; arts programs for hospital staff, patients, and their families; and virtual literary arts workshops. Funds may also support purchase of technology to equip organizations to offer virtual activities, consultant fees for strategic planning, or other expenses to support operational stability during the pandemic.


COVID-19 Arts Resilience Grants provide funds for nonprofit organizations and local governments ranging from $500 to $5,000. COVID-19 Arts Resilience Grant proposals must meet one of the following objectives:

Objective 1: Invest in arts and cultural assets to enhance everyday life for all Tennesseans by promoting the professional development of artists; expanding arts and cultural opportunities in rural communities or for underserved populations; or recognizing the importance of community-driven amateur and informal arts-making for community vitality.

 Projects meeting this objective may consist of, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Purchase equipment/supplies for a mobile stage to be used for virtual and live performing arts and other artistic programming
  • Employ creative workers as artists-in-residence, fellows, community or cultural organizers, teaching artists with a focus on economy-boosting initiatives that strengthen our communities 
  • Employ creative workers in efforts to document this unprecedented moment through public art, photographs, narratives, storytelling, murals, films, plays and other media (i.e. engage Tennessee writers to create works inspired by the pandemic; create a new, interactive, online musical experience inspired by the pandemic)

Objective 2: Foster innovation and excellence by encouraging and incentivizing resilience and adaptability to change and rebuilding efforts. Organizations applying in this objective must be arts organizations as defined by the Tennessee Arts Commission (See Glossary).

Projects meeting this objective may consist of, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Convert a production of a play/musical/concert from an in-person experience to a virtual setting
  • Pay for equipment used to create video recordings for an online, virtual concert
  • Develop new capacities in streaming and virtual engagement for seniors, children and youth, and underserved communities
  • Retrain staff and develop new strategies for physically distanced program delivery
  • Establish new safe spaces for performance and rehearsal
  • Adapt existing arts and cultural facilities to comply with public health standards

Objective 3: Accelerate transformation of rural areas through arts and cultural assets by targeting outreach and grant programs to strengthen impact for rural communities, including Tennessee’s distressed and at-risk counties.

Projects meeting this objective may consist of, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Address issues of equitable access on digital programs (i.e. offering creative programming through digital platforms)
  • Integrate arts and cultural use for health and wellness outcomes in rural communities

Objective 4: Strengthen community vibrancy through cross-sector and public/private partnerships with the arts by developing and investing in initiatives that improve physical and mental health and quality of life for Tennesseans through the arts.

Projects meeting this objective may consist of, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Produce recordings for distribution to hospitals and nursing homes
  • Put artists back to work to assist with community needs (i.e. helping with children’s virtual school needs, making masks)
  • Integrate creative arts use for health and wellness outcomes for those most affected by the pandemic, including specific support for cultural practitioners, artists, and creative workers in rural and underserved communities

Objective 5: Facilitate community arts learning for all Tennesseans by cultivating high quality arts education in Tennessee’s arts and cultural organizations for children and lifelong learners,  integrating arts education with community cultural heritage for increased understanding and authentic arts engagement and supporting learning efforts with education and community goals for lasting outcomes, including in rural areas.

Projects meeting this objective may consist of, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Support after-school student learning resources delivered virtually
  • Purchase equipment to better facilitate community outreach concerts

Proposed arts projects must involve one or more of these recognized art forms: visual, craft, media, design, music, theater, dance, folk, or literary arts.


General Information, Ann Brown, Associate Director of Grants, 615-532-5939

Access to the Arts for Underserved Communities, Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access, 615-532-9797

Arts Education, Alicia Fuss, Director of Arts Education, 615-253-8914

Community Arts, Shannon Ford, Director of Community Arts Development, 615-532-9796

Folk and Traditional Arts, Bradley Hanson, Director of Folklife, 615-532-9795

Literary Arts, Lee Baird, Director of Literary Arts, 615-532-0493

Performing Arts, Jared Morrison, Director of Performing Arts, 615-532-9801

Visual, Craft, Media and Design Arts, Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design, 615-532-9798


The Tennessee Arts Commission encourages applications from organizations across the state, including from rural, distressed, and at-risk counties. A list of these rural, distressed, and at-risk counties is available under the Targeted Arts Development Initiative

All Organizations
An organization is eligible to apply for funding support if the organization meets one of the following qualifications:

The organization is a nonprofit organization legally chartered in Tennessee and in possession of a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service declaring the organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Organization may currently receive project or operational support from the Tennessee Arts Commission. 

  • The organization is an entity of government (such as a council or commission). 
  • 501(c)3 applicants will be required to upload copies of the basic nonprofit status documentation into the online grant making system including:
    • Tennessee State Charter
    • IRS 501(c)3 Determination Letter
    • Most recent copy of the bylaws of the organization

Proposed applications must involve one or more Commission recognized art forms, including: visual arts, craft, media, design, music, theater, dance, folk and ethnic, or literary arts. Please see Legal Requirements for further details.

Organizations are eligible to receive one Special Opportunities: COVID-19 Arts Resilience Grant during Fiscal Year 2022. Current grantees, including organizations receiving operating support, are eligible to apply for a Special Opportunities Grant as long as the proposed project is a separate and distinct project not currently funded under other Commission grant programs during FY22. 

DUNS Number requirement. All organizational applicants are required to have a DUNS number. Information and application instructions can be found here. 

Debarment and Suspension. Grantees are required to sign contracts certifying to the best of their knowledge and belief, that it, its current and future principals, its current and future subcontractors and their principals are not presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from covered transactions by any federal or state department or agency.

Affirmative Duty to Report Major Organizational Change

Any grantee shall promptly notify the State in writing of any significant changes in the organization’s structure, leadership or financial circumstances that could affect services provided under the grant contract resulting from this application.


All Tennessee Arts 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 at kim.johnson@tn.gov or (615) 532-9797.

Evaluation Criteria

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.

  1. The application should be well planned and presented.
  2. The appropriate documentation is attached to the application. 
  3. The narrative clearly explains the goals of the project and how the applicant will monitor progress.
  4. The narrative clearly describes how the project aligns with one or more of the objectives highlighted in the guidelines.
  5. The narrative describes how this project will help the applicant organization respond specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. The funding request clearly outlines what the applicant intends to do and how, when, where, and for whom.
  7. The narrative includes how this project will engage and benefit the organization’s local artistic community and/or the community at large.

Funding is based on the narrative case for the grant, the accuracy of the application, reasonableness of the budget, and the availability of funds, which are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Matching Requirements

This grant does not require a cash match.

Review Process

Applications are reviewed in-house by Commission members and staff. Funding notification will take place via email.

Payment and Close-Out Requirements

Rolling Grants, including this Special Opportunities Grant, are paid on a reimbursement basis only. No advance payments will be made. Grantees must submit all required reporting in the Tennessee Arts Commission online grants system no later than 30 days after the ending date of the activity or by June 15, 2022, whichever comes first. Failure to do so may jeopardize future funding.

How to Apply & Requirements
  1. Register to use the 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.
  2. Once you’ve been emailed a username and password, log in to the Online Grants System to complete your profile and begin an application.
  3. 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.
  4. Use the “People” link to ensure your profile is complete and accurate. This information will also be used in the review of the application. To open the record for editing, click the edit button at the top of the screen.
  5. When your “Organization” and “People” profiles are complete and accurate, select the “Apply for Grants” tab again and click the “Apply for a ROLLING Grant” link listed on the page. Then select Grant Category “Special Opportunities” and Sub Category “Covid-19 Arts Resilience.”
  6. Complete all of the application fields.
  7. Create and upload required attachments.
  8. Submit by at least thirty (30) days prior to the beginning date of the project activity.

NOTE: The forms in this portal do not auto-save. Always click the “Save” button before navigating away from the page.

What to Submit

Applicants must complete and successfully submit all sections, including required uploaded documents, of the FY2022 Rolling Grant Application electronically at minimum of 30 days in advance of the project start date.

Required Documents:

You will be prompted to upload the following documents in the Required Documents section of your application in the Online Grants System.

    • 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.
    • List of Board of Directors. Only nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status will be prompted to upload this document. Note that Commission staff may request that grantees provide additional information about the board including but not limited to contact information and occupation during the grant period. The board list (at the time of application) must include only the following:
      • Full Name
      • Email address
      • Number of years on the board
      • Length of term(s)

You will NOT be prompted to upload these documents in the system, but these documents may be required based on the activity described in the application. 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. Dependent upon your proposed project, additional documents may be required prior to evaluating your application. 

  • Staff bios: 2-3 sentence of the primary administrative and artistic personnel, including contract artists, who will be involved in the grant activity. Do not upload resumes.
  • Contract with artist(s): A signed contract or letter of agreement with the artist(s), if applicable

You will NOT be prompted to upload these documents in the system, but at the time of application, you must upload these document in the Organization Profile in your online grants account:

  • Bylaws: Only nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status will be prompted to upload this document. Upload the most recent copy of the Bylaws of the organization in the Organization Profile.
  • FY22 Title VI training and certification form (due before the grant is paid). You must have successfully submitted an approved Title VI training and certification form for the fiscal year your project will occur in order to receive any awarded funds from the Commission.