Arts and Audiences
The Arts Council believes that arts organizations should provide programs of high quality and facilitate ways for participants and audiences to find personal meaning in these activities. The Arts and Audiences program underscores the importance of striking a balance between these two principles in order for all kinds of arts organizations to remain relevant and vital in their communities.
This category provides funds to organizations to increase and enhance participation in the arts by linking the content of art programs they wish to produce with the interests and experiences of the audiences they wish to engage. Grant funds will be awarded to support strong artistic programs with clear audience and participation goals.
Projects may be designed to:
- Give your current audience a deeper experience with and connection to your programs
- Build relationships with new audiences whom you want to serve
- Increase the numbers of people involved in your programs
Organizations that receive State Arts Resources grants are not eligible to apply in this category.
While we encourage projects that include participants of all ages, projects that take place primarily in schools or focus primarily on children are not eligible in this category. Prospective applicants with these target audiences should refer to the Arts in Education grant guidelines.
A wide range of artistic projects are eligible for funding in this category. Examples include:
- A performance or a small series of related performances
- A visual art exhibition
- A literary reading or series
- A discipline-specific festival
- A community-based residency with a professional artist or ensemble
- A small-press publication or literary magazine issue
- An arts program utilizing one or more professional artists in a healthcare setting or engaging people with disabilities
- The commissioning and premiere of a new work
The critical factor is that an appropriate mix of additional programming, extended activities and communication strategies is used to connect the project to the organization's audience goals. While all organizations hope to attract a broad and diverse audience to their programs, this category focuses on the efforts made to identify and attract selected groups (either existing audiences or new audiences) for whom the content of the project may have particular relevance and who fit into the organizations' strategic goals for audience development. Of particular interest are the steps organizations take to form relationships with these audiences and the thoughtfulness with which they craft programs to engage them. Some examples of program activities are:
- Panel discussions
- Artist interviews
- Interpretive materials, publications
- Interdisciplinary programs
- Artist residency activities
- Community-based programs
- Web-based strategies including social networking, blogging and interactive programming
Grant funds may be used for artist fees, marketing, interpretive materials, contractual fees (including contractual personnel) and other related costs. Up to 25 percent of the grant amount requested may be used for operating expenses including salaries that are directly related to the project. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $15,000 and rarely exceed $10,000. All grants to organizations must be matched dollar for dollar except those serving rural, low-wealth counties, which are eligible for 75 percent to 100 percent funding. Organizations must make a strong case for financial need if the cash match is less than one-to-one.
Organizations are limited to one application in this category. While in certain instances more than one related exhibition or performance may be included in the proposal to establish an overall audience strategy, an organization's entire season of programs cannot be funded.
- Artistic quality of the project
- Potential of project to build arts participation and meet applicant's audience goals
- Organization's overall commitment to building arts participation
- Inclusiveness of racially, culturally, and economically diverse participants as appropriate to the project
- Strength of management and resources necessary to implement project
Community arts organizations such as community theaters, symphonies and choral groups can apply in this category for projects or residencies involving professional artists. For more information and the types of projects that can be funded, see "Additional Guidelines" below, and contact staff.
A limited number of grants can support commissioning projects that span two years, with the creation of the new work in year one and the premiere in year two. Organizations funded for a two-year project will not need to reapply in the second year, but will be required to submit an interim report at the end of the first year. Organizations wishing to submit a two-year proposal must submit a letter of intent to apply no later than Tuesday, January 15, 2013.
How to Apply
Applicants will submit the form electronically through North Carolina ARTS Grants Online (AGO).
Applicants will be asked to provide the following information on the application form. Make sure that the information you provide addresses the evaluation criteria. If you are a university, your project must focus on audiences outside the university community. Your proposal will be more persuasive if you can place this project in the context of an overall effort to reach audiences outside the university.
- In one or two paragraphs, provide a concise summary of your proposed project and describe clearly how it addresses your specific artistic and audience goals.
- Give a detailed description of the activities that will take place during the project period, underscoring how the artistic content reinforces or stretches your overall artistic program.
- Provide a description of the artists involved in the project, including racial and cultural composition, how and why they were chosen and the rate of payment for their services.
- Provide a description of the intended audience and participants specific for this project, including information such as estimated numbers and racial and cultural composition. Explain why you have selected these target audiences for this project and how your project activities will connect them to your organization.
- Describe what you have done or are planning to do before the project begins to assure that artists and partners are fully involved. Focus specifically on what you've done or plan to do before the grant year to form relationships with target audiences in order to achieve your stated audience goals.
- Explain how you will know if this project is a success, both in terms of artistic goals and in terms of audience goals. Provide details about the evaluation methodologies and tools you will use.
All applicants will be required to submit support materials appropriate to their proposal. Support materials provide key evidence that builds a case for a strong application and addresses the funding criteria. Here are some examples of support materials to consider:
- artist bios, resumes and reviews
- letters of support from key partners, samples of recent brochures and other marketing materials
- letters of agreement with contracted touring artists, samples of recent publications, bios and resumes of key staff and partners for the project
All support materials are uploaded to the Support Materials page within each individual application form. Note: Support materials are different than work samples. Both are necessary to build a strong proposal.
All applicants are required to submit work samples. The purpose of a work sample is to provide a “demonstration” of the artist(s) or art group that is featured in the grant proposal so that the panel has evidence of artistic quality, a key evaluation criteria for each grant category. Appropriate work samples feature recent work by the artist(s), and are representative of the kind of work that is described in the grant proposal.
All work samples are uploaded to the Manage Work Samples section of AGO and then attached to specific applications.
Dance and Theater Projects
Upload video samples of at least two recent works and no more than four works total representing the artists proposed in your application in the order you would like them presented to the panel. Samples may be excerpts that conform to the size and format requirements of the electronic application, or links to full works that are found on the web. Total viewing time of the samples should not exceed 15 minutes. Works included should have been performed within the last three years. Work samples should be of the highest possible quality. Highly edited promotional clips and still images will not be accepted. Label the work sample using the template in AGO’s Manage Work Samples section. For Web link submissions, identify the featured artists or production, date and venue on the Web Link Collection form.
Upload samples of at least two recent works and no more than four works total representing the artists proposed in your application in the order you would like them presented to the panel. Samples may be excerpts that conform to the size and format requirements of the electronic application, or links to full works that are found on the web. The total listening time of the samples should not exceed 15 minutes. Works included must have been performed within the last three years. Work samples should be of the highest possible quality and formatted as MP3s for uploads. Label and describe the work sample using the template in AGO’s Manage Work Samples section. For Web link submissions, identify the featured artists or performance, date and venue on the Web Link Collection form.
Visual Arts Projects
Upload up to 15 images into the electronic application form. To prepare your images go to the tutorial Image Preparation. To document time-based work, samples may be uploaded that conform to the size and format requirements of the electronic application, or provided as a link to work that is on the Web, or submitted on DVD. If submitting a DVD, send one copy of the DVD and indicate the preferred track for viewing at the panel meeting. Running time should not exceed three minutes. Please provide a description of each work using the Web Link Collection form.
Upload up to a five-minute sample, using the size and format requirements of the electronic application, or provide a link to a work on the Web, or submit a sample(s) on DVD, providing one copy. For Web link and DVD submissions, provide the title, a two-sentence summary of the plot(s), and the director of each production on the Web Link Collection form. The description should indicate which track on the DVD is preferred for viewing at the panel meeting. If the sample(s) submitted does not represent work for the proposed project, explain how it is relevant to the application. If submitting a sample(s) longer than five minutes, submit it on DVD, providing one copy.
Upload samples of at least two and no more than four recent works of the artist(s) featured in your application. Samples may be excerpts to accommodate the parameters of the electronic application or links to full works that are found on the Web. Total viewing time should not exceed 15 minutes. Works included should have been completed within the last three years. Highly edited promotional clips will not be accepted. Label the work sample using the template in AGO’s Manage Work Samples section.
Upload a document (pdf) that includes a writing sample of the writer(s) featured in your project: up to three single-spaced poems; or up to 10 double-spaced pages of fiction or nonfiction; or work in a combination of these genres no longer than 20 pages. If you submit an excerpt from a novel or a long nonfiction work, add a one-page synopsis of the work as a whole.
Literary magazines should also mail one representative copy of a recent issue. Attach to the application form a statement noting the frequency of publication, number of copies printed, subscription price, number of paid subscriptions, single-copy price, average number of single copies sold in the previous 12 months, description of how the magazine was distributed beyond the home county in the previous 12 months, and any changes in distribution anticipated.
Literary presses should also mail one representative copy of a recent publication. Attach to the application form a statement noting the title of each book published in the previous 12 months and each new title proposed for the next fiscal year. Please state the print run, wholesale and retail prices, number of copies sold or expected to be sold, and a description of marketing and distribution beyond the home county.
Notes about Video Work Samples
- The easiest and most reliable way to provide a video work sample as part of your application is by linking to work that is already on the Web. Web links must satisfy the guidelines in order to be appropriate work samples. Simply type the Web address and the description of what the panel will review on the Web Link Collection Form. You will upload this completed form to your work sample portfolio in AGO’s Manage Work Samples section under Written Documents Work Sample Bank, then add it to the application.
- If there is no link to share, you can upload a video directly into the Manage Work Sample section. This only works if the video is short (no more than five minutes) and in an MP4 format.
- If there is no link and your video does not meet the parameters of AGO, you can submit one copy of a DVD (along with its relevant information in the Web Link Collection form) which will be uploaded to a private, secure website in order for panelists to review the work.
Before applying, contact Arts Council staff:
- Dance and music organizations contact Andrea Lawson at (919) 807-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Literary and theater organizations contact David Potorti at (919) 807-6512 or email@example.com.
- Presenting organizations, organizations conducting arts-in-healthcare projects and organizations conducting projects that serve people with disabilities contact Vicki Vitiello at (919) 807-6504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visual arts and film organizations contact Jeff Pettus at (919) 807-6513 or email@example.com.
- For general questions contact Vicki Vitiello at (919) 807-6504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.