Grant Applicant FAQs
Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about our current grant offerings.
This resource will be updated throughout grant season. We encourage you to check back for future updates. If you have questions about a grant offering after reviewing the grant guidelines, please reach out to our staff. View a directory of our Arts Program Specialists contact information at our grants staff contacts page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the CAC consider an “artistic practice”?
We do not specifically define “artistic practice.” An applicant makes this determination for themselves regarding their work.
Does the CAC have a definition of an “arts organization”?
An arts and cultural organization is defined as an entity with a primary purpose of providing arts, creative, or cultural programming/services.
See “Individual Artist Fellowships” under the Grant Opportunities section of this FAQ.
If my organization received funding from the NEA ARP (American Rescue Plan) grant, can we still apply for CAC grants?
Yes. NEA grant recipients are eligible to apply for CAC grants, as long as there is no overlap in costs or activities in the proposal budget and they meet all other CAC grant eligibility requirements.
Is my organization eligible if we do not have a principal place of business in California?
No. A principal place of business in California is required.
Is my organization eligible if we have not been a California-based organization for two or more years?
Yes. However, your organization must be California-based at the time of application.
My organization meets the minimum two-year history requirement for providing arts programming and services, but not all within California. Can we still apply?
Yes, but your organization must have regular ongoing arts programming and/or services and be California-based at the time of application.
Does my organization need to have federal 501(c)(3) designation throughout our entire two-year history in order to be eligible?
No. Organizational history is determined only by the length of time engaged in arts programming and/or services.
Can an organization less than two years old use the history of a supporting partner organization to meet the two-year requirement?
No. The history of consistent engagement in arts programming and/or services must be based solely on the timeline of the applicant organization.
Can our organization apply while our nonprofit status application is still in process?
Yes. If your organization is not a unit of government, and does not yet have nonprofit status, you may apply in partnership with an eligible fiscal sponsor.
Our California-based organization has a national reach. Are we eligible to apply for CAC grants?
Yes. Please note: If applying for a project-based grant through our Impact Projects or JUMP StArts opportunities, the proposed project must take place entirely within California.
Do you support new organizations? Or does the organization need to be established?
All organizations must have, at minimum, a two-year history of arts programming and/or services at the time of application. Please review grant-specific guidelines for additional information.
Is my California-based tribe eligible?
Yes. Please review grant-specific guidelines for additional information.
Is my organization eligible if we do not have a principal place of business in California, but have a fiscal sponsor that does?
No. Both the applicant organization and the fiscal sponsor must have principal places of business in California.
What do we do if we need to change our fiscal sponsor after applying?
Changes in fiscal sponsor are not permitted after becoming a grant awardee, as stated in grant program guidelines. If a grant is awarded, the fiscal sponsor becomes the legal contract holder with the California Arts Council. Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the CAC. If an exception is granted, the application returns to panelists for adjudication once more and is given a new rank, determining an updated award or decline status.
Can my organization apply while our fiscal sponsorship is still in process?
No. For funding opportunities where fiscal sponsorships are allowed, a Letter of Agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the organization must be signed and submitted within each application. Please see additional information on CAC Fiscal Sponsor Policy.
Are capital/infrastructure improvement expenses allowed for any grant opportunities?
No. Construction projects, purchase of land and buildings, or capital expenditures used to maintain, upgrade, acquire, or repair capital assets are not allowed. Please review the complete list of activities and expenses that CAC does not fund.
Are there limits for how much funding an organization can receive?
Yes. Organizations with a total operating revenue above $250,000 cannot apply for more than 50 percent of their total operating revenue from the most recently completed fiscal year.
Is it possible to apply for more than one grant?
Yes. However, for organizations with total operating revenue above $250,000, the sum of requests for CAC grants during the same year of funding cannot exceed 50 percent of the total operating revenue from the most recently completed fiscal year.
- Arts & Cultural Organizations General Operating Relief
- Impact Projects
- Individual Artist Fellowships
- JUMP StArts
- Statewide and Regional Networks
Arts & Cultural Organizations General Operating Relief
Can organizations apply to/receive funds for both the General Operating Relief and Statewide and Regional Networks grant programs?
No. Applicants to either program are restricted from applying to the other.
Our organization is an arts-based department of a university—is our organization eligible to apply?
No. Public and private colleges and universities are not eligible for General Operating Relief support.
Can general operating support be used to support specific programs and staff?
Funds may be used to support any eligible expenses associated with the general operations of an arts or cultural organization, including but not limited to rent, utilities, and staff salaries. General Operating Relief grants are intended to support the applicant organization in carrying out its mission. Funding is not intended to support a specific project, but may be used for programmatic expenses related to your regular operations.
Can CAC State-Local Partners (designated county arts agencies) apply to the General Operating Relief grant?
Yes, SLPs may apply.
Can an Impact Project support an artist(s) that is not California-based?
Yes. However, incorporating local artists representative of the community to be served is key to a successful application in this grant.
Individual Artist Fellowships
Does my full history of artistic practice need to be within California?
No. Applicants must be California-based artists at the time of application and have a history of artistic practice in California.
Which career tier am I eligible to apply for?
We ask that applicants self-identify their career tier, based on their number of years of artistic practice.
I am engaged in multiple artistic practices – how should I consider these in determining the applicable Fellowship tier?
We ask that applicants self-identify their career tier and practice.
Do I have to be associated with an organization to apply?
No. Fellowship grants support an individual’s artistic practice.
Do funds have to be tied to a specific project?
No. The Fellowships grant is intended to support an individual’s artistic practice through unrestricted funding.
What is the difference between Emerging, Established and Legacy artists?
Individual Artist Fellowships career tiers are based on the applicant’s history of artistic practice at the time of application. CAC Emerging Artist Fellows are artists with between two and four years of artistic practice, Established Artist Fellows are artists with between four and 10 years of artistic practice, and Legacy Artist Fellows are well-established artists with 10 or more years of artistic practice.
Can an artist apply for more than one career tier?
No. Individual Artist Fellowships applicants must select from one of the three career tiers, and may only submit one application.
Do individual artists apply for themselves? Can an organization with a close relationship to an artist apply on their behalf?
Individual artists register and apply to the Individual Artists Fellowships opportunity on their own behalf.
If an artist is supported by another CAC grant project, or is a part of an upcoming project being proposed for CAC grant funding, can they still apply?
Yes. An artist’s association with an organization’s project grant does not impact their ability to receive individual artist funding.
Can a two-person collaborative team apply for an Individual Fellowship grant?
No. Only individual artists may apply to the Individual Artist Fellowships grant.
Do individual artists need a fiscal sponsor?
No. Fiscal sponsorships are not applicable to the Individual Artist Fellowships funding opportunity.
Can artists who serve as staff of arts organizations also apply for an Individual Artist Fellowships grant?
Yes. There are no eligibility restrictions based on whether or not an Individual Artist Fellowships applicant is associated with an arts organization.
What time period should be reflected in additional supporting materials?
More recent materials are preferred; however, we recognize that COVID-19 has impacted the amount of work created in the past year.
What time period should be reflected in my artistic work samples?
Applicants must include examples of their artistic work over the time period relative to the requested funding tier. Applicants to the Legacy tier having engaged in their artistic practice(s) for more than 10 years may provide artistic work samples from any time within the duration of their career.
How can I provide more than three video URLs/links for my application?
For applicants to the Established or Legacy tiers wishing to share more than three video URLs/links (the number of distinct video URL/link upload fields within the application), you may list these within a single document, uploaded using the File Upload tool.
Can I view examples of successful applications to the Individual Artist Fellowships grant program?
No. As the Individual Artist Fellowships grant program is new for 2021, there is no prior cycle of applications available.
Is it possible for two nonprofit organizations to apply together as a collaborative partnership?
No. Only one organization may serve as the applicant. Partnering organizations are required, and must be a juvenile justice and/or social service organization working with entities or within facilities as indicated according to the applicable program strand.
How do you define “priority youth”?
These may be youth and young people who were dismissed from middle, high and/or continuation schools; have been subjected to racial profiling; have been arrested and or are on probation; are currently incarcerated at a juvenile justice facility or have been released from a facility, attending a court-appointed educational institution; are undocumented; are unhoused and/or migratory; are refugees; have incarcerated parent(s) or guardian(s) and/or are pregnant or young parents themselves.
Does the JUMP StArts program only accept proposals for artists-in-residence programs, or are general arts education proposals for vulnerable youth also eligible?
Both. The JUMP StArts program supports arts and culture education, apprenticeship and/or mentorship via artists-in-residence programs for at-promise youth and young people through the age of 24.
What is meant by “community spaces”?
The JUMP StArts Community Spaces and/or County Facilities program strand supports activities taking place during or outside of traditional school hours in county-operated correctional facilities; public settings; online; and in arts and culture venues, community centers, school sites, youth centers, and intergenerational settings.
For previous Youth Arts Action grantees who work with at-promise youth, but not with participants directly involved with the justice system, would JUMP StArts be the best program to apply to this grant season?
Not necessarily. Impact Projects may be more appropriate, depending on your project and partners. Projects should prioritize youth currently or previously system-engaged, or youth who are especially vulnerable to being engaged in or by the justice system, and the project should be tailored specifically to respond to their needs. Contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist for more help determining the best fit for your project.
Statewide and Regional Networks
Can we apply if our organization is not an arts and cultural organization?
No. Applicants must be an arts service organization with statewide or regional reach.
Can we apply if our organization is a CAC State-Local Partner?
No. State-Local Partners are not eligible to receive this grant.
What is an “arts service organization”?
As defined in the grant guidelines, an arts service organization is a nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organization that furthers the interests of artists, creators, tradition bearers, and arts and cultural organizations. They also provide specialized, practical services for artists, arts organizations and cultural communities. These organizations preserve, present, and promote specific cultural practices, artistic disciplines, or creative initiatives.
- Online Application Portal
- Additional Support Materials
- Budget & Matching Funds
- Racial Equity Statement
- Registration: Individuals
- Registration: Organizations
- Work Samples
Online Application Portal
Where can I submit my application?
All applications are submitted through our online grants management system, SmartSimple. An account must be created to access the system.
Additional Support Materials
Can more Letters of Support or Testimonials be submitted than are required?
No. Please provide only the requested number of Letters of Support or Testimonials required in the grant application.
Can my Letter of Support be signed by multiple individuals?
No. Only one stakeholder may be reflected in a Letter of Support.
Is there a page limit to résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) submissions?
CAC does not provide specific page-length limits where résumés or CVs are requested, although it is suggested to consider panelists’ capacity to review all presented materials.
Budget & Matching Funds
How do I determine what fiscal years to include in my Budget Snapshot?
Applicants are required to provide the last two completed fiscal years in their Budget Snapshot.
Should restricted or pass-through funds be included in our organization’s calculation of Total Operating Revenue?
No, they should not be included.
Within the two-year Budget Snapshot, how should my organization represent in-kind contributions?
The value of in-kind goods and services should be reflected within the revenue section in the “contributed” line. Brief budget notes should be entered, describing the in-kind source(s). Please refer to the 2021 In-Kind Contributions Information. If you have further questions, please contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist.
On the Matching Funds table, what is meant by “projected,” “pending,” or “committed” funding sources?
“Committed” refers to funding sources that have been promised or guaranteed. “Pending” refers to potential funding sources where a request has been made, but a decision, determination or commitment has yet to be offered. “Projected” refers to funding sources which are planned, but not yet requested, applied for, or placed.
In what timeframe are funds eligible to count as matching funds? (For example, what is the earliest my organization could have received the funds to count as matching funds for this cycle’s application?)
The CAC does not have specific requirements regarding when matching funds may have been projected, pending, or committed. If recommended for funding, it is expected that the required match will be met with committed funds by the end of the Grant Activity Period.
Racial Equity Statement
Will the racial equity statement be an eligibility requirement next year?
Yes. As a part of the CAC’s commitment to furthering racial equity, all applicants must submit a racial equity statement in order to be eligible for funding.
Can I make changes to my organization’s racial equity statement before submitting an application?
Yes. An organization’s Primary Contact may access and edit the statement at any time after initial registration and account “certification.”
Does our racial equity statement need board approval?
No. Board approval is not required.
Can my organization’s racial equity statement be a work in progress?
Yes. Racial equity work is an ongoing learning process by nature. Check out our Racial Equity Learning Resources webpage for more information.
Can my organization’s racial equity statement include other aspects of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (e.g., gender and accessibility)?
Yes. The California Arts Council recognizes racial inequity as the most pervasive and entrenched form of injustice permeating the institutions and systems that everyone must access—and the driving force behind our racial equity statement requirement. However, your statement may include additional intersectionalities of equity work.
How long should my organization’s racial equity statement be?
An organization’s racial equity statement may not exceed 300 words.
If I am registering for an Individual Artist account and an Organizational account, can I use the same email address?
No. Users must provide an email address at the time of registration that is unique and not associated with an existing Individual Artist or Organizational account. Duplicate user accounts with the same email address are not allowed.
What do I do if I have an email address already assigned to an Organizational account?
Individual artists must provide an email address at the time of registration that is unique and not associated with an existing Organizational account. Duplicate user accounts with the same email address are not allowed. Contact a Individual Artist Fellowships Arts Program Specialist for further assistance.
Am I eligible for a grant if I don’t have U.S. Citizenship?
Yes. Applicants must be California-based and reside primarily in California. An address within California is required when registering for a user account on the CAC grants management system.
In addition, if awarded, grantees must provide either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for payment processing.
Am I eligible if I don’t have a physical or consistent home address?
Individuals must provide an address, based in California, where they can regularly and reliably receive mail.
Am I eligible for the Individual Artist Fellowships grant if I don’t live in California?
No. Applicants must be California-based and reside primarily in California at the time of application.
I’m a new artist. Am I eligible to apply?
Individual Artist applicants must have a minimum history of two years of artistic practice at the time of application. As a part of our screening process, individuals without these qualifications will be unable to create an account in our grants system.
Is there an age requirement to receive an Individual Artist Fellowships grant?
Artists must be 18 years of age or older at the time of application to be eligible for an Individual Artist Fellowships grant.
Why can’t I find my organization using the IRS lookup tool?
Make sure you are only providing your organization’s nine-digit Employer Identification Number (EIN), being sure to omit any spaces or dashes. If your organization cannot be identified through the IRS Lookup tool, please contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist for assistance.
How can I reassign the Applicant Owner to another staff member?
Ownership of an application can be transferred from one organizational contact to another by submitting a request. Please contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist for assistance.
How can I change my organization’s name within the grants management system?
Changing an organizational name requires the submission of a request form and supporting documentation. Contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist for assistance.
Why can’t I certify my organization?
Only the Primary Contact for an organization can update Organizational Profile information and certify the organization.
How do I change the Primary Contact for my organization?
To change a Primary Contact for your organization, please contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist.
How can I add or modify an organizational contact within CAC’s grants management system?
Currently registered organizations can create a new organizational user account and associate with the existing organization. Visit the CAC’s grants management system landing page; click on the “Register Here” button and follow the on-screen instructions. Most contact details can be modified by each user directly. If restricted fields require modification, or changes need to be made for a former organizational contact, please contact the grant’s designated Arts Program Specialist.
How long should video-based artistic work samples be?
Panelists will generally have 10-15 minutes in total to review artistic work samples. If your video samples are longer than that, please use the Work Samples Notes section to provide specific start and end times for the desired portions for panelists to review.
How many pages should literary-based artistic work samples be?
Panelists will generally have 10-15 minutes in total to review artistic work samples. If your samples are longer than that, please use the Work Samples Notes section to indicate which page range and/or section(s) the panelists should focus on.
What are file size, image size and resolution limitations for visual arts-based artistic work samples?
While each artistic work sample image may not exceed 2MB, the CAC does not provide specific limitations regarding artistic work sample image file size, visible dimensions, or image resolution.
For visual arts-based artistic work samples, can an uploaded file reflect more than one specific artwork?
The CAC does not provide specific limitations regarding the number of artworks represented per uploaded file. Applicants may choose to provide uploads that reflect single artworks, composite images, multiple artworks within each file, or a combination thereof, although it is suggested to consider panelists’ capacity to review all presented materials. Please note, within the Work Sample Notes section, applicants are asked to provide brief descriptions of artistic work samples.
How long should audio-based artistic work samples be?
Panelists will generally have 10-15 minutes in total to review artistic work samples. If your samples are longer than that, please use the Work Samples Notes section to provide specific start and end times for the desired portions for panelists to review.
Why aren’t there any staff phone numbers and/or Calendly links on the website any longer?
Due to the high volume of requests, staff cannot guarantee availability to all applicants via phone inquiries. Email is the best way to reach CAC staff, as well as checking grant guidelines and FAQs to answer application questions.
Who can I contact for additional assistance with my application?
A directory of our Arts Program Specialists contact information is available at our Grants Staff Contacts page. Please read the grant-specific guidelines, application instructions, and Frequently Asked Questions before contacting staff. Due to a very high volume of inquiries, there may be a delay in our response.
Please note: Staff assistance is not available after 5 p.m. on the day of a grant deadline.
People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf Blind, or have difficulty speaking may dial 711 to reach the California Relay Service (CRS).
Language & Accessibility
Can I submit a print version of my application?
No. CAC only accepts electronic applications submitted through our online grants management system.
Are applications available in large print?
Yes. Large print is available upon request. Contact Graphic Designer Wendy Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org to place a request. Please note: Large print applications are currently available in electronic format only.
How do I request an application in another language?
The California Arts Council offers over-the-phone interpretation and written translation services upon request in nine languages. View a list at this link. To request language assistance, contact email@example.com.
I can’t find my application on my calartscouncil.smartsimple.com portal anymore. Where did it go?
Now that funding decisions have been made, your application has moved to either your “Awarded” or “Declined” tab of the “My Applications” section in your portal.
How can I get notifications about the next cycle of CAC grant opportunities?
CAC grant cycles are announced at Council meetings, on CAC’s social media accounts, and through CAC e-newsletters. Click here to subscribe.
Are there other funding opportunities you recommend?
Please visit the Grants section of Collective, the CAC’s arts and culture opportunities resource database, to find other available sources of funding outside of the CAC.
Can I view examples of successful grant applications?
In compliance with the California Public Records Act, copies of prior grant applications can be provided upon request of public records. Click here to learn more. Please note: many of this year’s grants are being offered for the first time, meaning no prior applications exist in our records.
When can matching funds be used for my 2021 grant contract?
For grant awards that require matching, you may use eligible matching funds obtained from your organization’s most recently completed fiscal year, the fiscal year that overlaps with the contract’s grant activity period, or anytime within the grant activity period.
The instructions for completing my grant award contract state that I need to Add Budget Details to a budget table, but I only see a Matching Funds tab.
General operating support grants (Arts & Cultural Organizations General Operating Relief and Statewide and Regional Networks) do not require a completed project budget table for contracting. Only project-based grants (Impact Projects and JUMP StArts) require a budget table outlining how the grant funds will be spent for contracting.
Who served on the panels that judged my application?
Applications are reviewed by a group of diverse and experienced arts and cultural practitioners from around the state. Panelists are eligible to be invited to serve after they are approved by the Council. More information on panel selection and process can be found on the CAC’s Grant Panels page.
Was there a new panel process this year?
The in-person panel process was adapted into an independent and virtual process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists participated virtually to meet with staff, Programs Specialists, and other panelists to learn to evaluate grant applications, ensuring an equitable, honest, and thorough review and ranking process.
Did the scoring system change this year?
Grants were adjudicated by panelists using the same 6-point scale that has been in use for the past few years.
Why did ranks include decimals instead of whole numbers?
Given the high volume of applicants this cycle, it was not possible to fund the entirety of whole number ranks below either 6 or 5 in many of the grant programs with the funding available. Council determined that in order to reach as many applicants as possible, decimal point ranks would fund further down and keep a consistent standard across grants.
How can I read the panel comments from my application?
Panel comments can be obtained by emailing the Arts Program Specialist listed on your official award or decline letter and requesting your notes. Due to the high volume of comment requests, you can expect to receive notes within a few weeks of your initial request.
Why are panel comments generalized statements?
Panel notes come from categories of set criteria that panelists keep in mind when reviewing applications. In giving feedback to applicants, panelists select those statements that best align with their decision on how applicants met these criteria.
Why do some of the panel comments seem like they contradict each other?
These comments come from different panelists. While one panelist may have found your application clear, another did not. This indicates areas for improvement.
Our panel comments are mostly positive. Why wasn’t my organization funded?
Each of our grant programs received a high volume of applicants this cycle. Due to the amount of funding available, there were strong applications that were not able to be funded. Funding allocations change from year to year due to fluctuations in budget, and scores that were funded in the past are not guaranteed to be funded the next year. Likewise, it is possible that ranks that were not funded this year could be funded next year.
How were award amounts determined?
Award amounts were determined via a formula that took into consideration the total amount of available funds, the rank of the applicant, and the percentage of the requested award amount to be funded based on the rank.
Where can I find a list of the organizations that received grants this year?
A full list of the organizations funded can be found here: https://arts.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Council-Meeting-Book-08.25.21.pdf
My organization was awarded a grant. When will we receive our grant contract documents?
Your grant contract documents will be made available through our grants management system within the next few weeks after your award notice. When they become available, you will receive an email notification with instructions regarding the completion and return of the required materials. If applicable, your fiscal sponsor contact identified in your application will also be copied on this notification.
How were smaller organizations prioritized this year?
The Council prioritized allocating funding for grant programs to organizations with a total operating revenue of $250,000 and below.
Can my organization appeal not receiving a grant award?
As per the grant guidelines, appeals to CAC funding decisions must be submitted on an official Appeal Form, available from the CAC, and postmarked within 45 days of the decision. Dissatisfaction with award denial or with award amount is not grounds for appeal. Please contact your Program Specialist for the Appeal form. Appeals are granted only on the following grounds:
- Panel’s assessment was based on a misstatement of factual information as contained in the application such that it negatively influenced the panel’s recommendation; and/or
- Incorrect processing of the required application material such that it negatively influenced the panel’s assessment of the applicant’s request for funding.