Arts Equity Project Grants

As part of our efforts to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, the North Carolina Arts Council will award grants to organizations across the state that are doing important work in communities of color, disability communities, and rural communities. This grant category is designed to support specific projects that offer arts activities that benefit traditionally underserved communities.  Priority will be given to applicants that are new to the Arts Council and help us to expand our reach into communities across the state.


Non-profit organizations (or arts entities served by a non-profit fiscal agent*) meeting the following eligibility criteria are invited to apply:

  • Must have a history of working in communities of color, disability communities, rural communities, or other traditionally underserved populations.
  • Organizations that receive funding through the following N.C. Arts Council direct grant categories are not eligible to apply for an Arts Equity Project Grant:  Organization Support, State Arts Resources, Statewide Service Organizations, Grassroots (DCP or PCP), and TAPS.  Organizations that receive direct grants in the aforementioned categories are allowed to serve as a fiscal agent for applicants who require that service.

Evaluation Criteria
Advisory panels will review applications using the following evaluation criteria:

  • Proposed project demonstrates artistic, cultural and/or educational value to the community being served
  • Applicant understands and is responsive to the diverse interests and needs of the community it serves
  • Proposed project supports the work of artists through payment of fees, services or appropriate benefits
  • Application is well planned, addresses all questions, and is correct and complete in all information provided


Grant amounts will range from $3,000 to $15,000.  Applicants from Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties may apply for up to two-thirds of the overall project expenses and must provide a cash match for the remaining third.  Applicants from economically distressed Tier 1 counties are eligible to waive the matching requirement. 

Grant funds may be used for artist fees, marketing, interpretive materials, contractual fees (including contractual personnel), and other related costs. Applicants may use up to 25 percent of the grant amount for administrative expenses including salaries that are directly related to the project. The project period for funding is July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Projects that involve school-age children outside of the classroom can apply for Arts Equity Project Grant funds; however, projects that take place as part of the school-day experience should refer to Arts in Education grant guidelines.

How to Apply

Applications will be available in the online Go Smart portal on March 15, 2021.  There will be two grant application deadlines for this category:  Monday, May 3, 2021 and Monday, October 4, 2021.  New users in the Go Smart portal will need to create a profile before moving to the grant application form.

The following questions and documents will be required for the application:

Profile questions
In addition to contact information, you will be asked to submit your organization’s mission statement, an organizational history, and both an EIN and DUNS number.

Narrative questions and uploads

  1. Provide an overview of the project.  Include details about the scope of the work, the anticipated dates and locations where the program will take place, and the intended goals.
  2. Provide information about the intended audience of the project.  Why is this project relevant to the intended audience?  How have you involved the audience in your plans to date?  How will you recruit participation in the project activities?
  3. Who are the key people who will implement the project?  Provide names and general responsibilities as well as any connections they have to the intended audiences.  Include details about any artists involved in the project. Describe how artists will be supported through payment of fees, services, or other appropriate benefits.
  4. Upload letters of support from key partners representing the community or audience you will serve.
  5. (Optional) If this is your first time applying to the N.C. Arts Council, upload any additional information that will help us to know your organization better such as marketing materials, a strategic plan, press coverage, etc.

Additionally, you will be required to submit a project budget and artist work samples that demonstrate the talent of the artist(s) involved in the project.

Arts Council staff will review applications for eligibility and completeness. Eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel of community leaders and arts professionals. Applicants will be informed of funding decisions after grant recommendations are approved by the North Carolina Arts Council board and the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in August.

*Fiscal Agency for Arts Equity Project Grants
The North Carolina Arts Council is making an exception to our fiscal agency policies for the FY2021-22 Arts Equity Project Grant category.  Applicants based in North Carolina who do not meet the eligibility criteria of 1) 501c3 organization, 2) most-recent organizational expense budget of $20,000 or more, 3) track-record of programming for at least two years are eligible to apply for grant support in this category with a fiscal agent.  Fiscal agents must meet the aforementioned eligibility criteria and must be willing to accept legal and fiduciary responsibility for the grant funding if awarded.  Fiscal agents receive the grant payment and pass the funding directly to the applicant.  While fiscal agents can charge a service fee up to 10% of the grant amount if they wish, the management of the Arts Equity Project is the responsibility of the applicant who will conduct the project. 

If grant funds are awarded, both the fiscal agent and the applicant group will sign the grant award contract.  The fiscal agent and the applicant will both be required to sign off on the final report at the end of the project period.

Organizations that receive funding from the North Carolina Arts Council in the SAR, SSO, Grassroots, and TAPs grant categories are not allowed to apply for an Arts Equity Project Grant; however, they can serve as a fiscal agent for one application to the category.

Grant Application Assistance
North Carolina Arts Council staff are here to assist with grant applications. Visit our application assistance page for resources and grants staff contact information. 

For accessibility questions or accommodation requests, please contact the North Carolina Arts Council's Visual Arts Director & Accessibility Coordinator, Kathleen Collier, at or 919-814-6515.