Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find an answer to your question in our frequently asked questions, please contact the appropriate staff member for further assistance.

Eligibility and Requirements

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The North Carolina Arts Council has three general eligibility criteria that apply to all organizational grant categories. To be eligible for Arts Council funding, organizations must either meet these criteria OR apply using a fiscal agent following our policies.

An organization must:

  1. Be a 501(c)(3)  organization in good standing with the state of North Carolina
  2. Have been producing quality arts programs for at least two consecutive years
  3. Have prior-year organizational cash operating expenses of at least $20,000

An applicant who doesn't meet the general eligibility criteria can use a fiscal agent to apply for an organizational grant from the North Carolina Arts Council in the following circumstances:

  1. If they are applying for a Project Support Grant, which has specific guidelines for fiscal agent use
  2. If an organization has applied for but not yet received its tax-exempt status from the IRS, it can request permission to use a fiscal agent in other grant categories for no more than three years

Before opening the online grant application portal, we suggest that you take the following steps:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the general eligibility requirements for all Arts Council grants
  2. Review guidelines for the specific types of grants we offer to determine where you best fit. These guidelines provide a preview of what to expect in the application form, helping you begin drafting your narrative and gathering the required documents.
  3. Get in touch with the Arts Council program staff whose expertise best aligns with your organization's field of work. Even if you've applied for grants in the past, we highly recommend reaching out to our staff to help them anticipate your proposal and offer you valuable assistance.

Yes, all 501(c)(3) applicants must have a Unique Entity Number (UEI). 

Instructions for obtaining a free UEI can be found on Grant applications submitted without a UEI will not be considered for funding. Individuals applying using a fiscal agent are not required to have a UEI, but the fiscal agents are required to have one.

Most grants awarded by the North Carolina Arts Council require a cash match. We define a cash match as other sources of funding obtained by the applicant organization and deposited into the organization's bank account to pay for expenses associated with the proposed project.

The source of this cash match can be directly linked to the project, like revenue from ticket sales/admissions or grants from other organizations. Cash match can also be unrestricted funds brought into the organization that are specifically allocated to the project.

In addition, certain overhead costs of the applicant organization, such as staff time, are considered hard costs that require the organizations to pay cash. This can count towards the cash match. However, a proposal must clearly explain how these overhead costs are related to the project.


In-kind contributions refer to the donations of things such as labor, space, services, and supplies that typically have associated costs but are not directly paid for by the applicant. 

Examples of in-kind contributions:

  • A print shop donating the printing of a poster
  • A venue waiving the rental fee for rehearsal time
  • The staff time or any expense incurred by a partner organization that is involved in the project but who is not the applicant

Although in-kind contributions can't be included in the cash match, they serve as valuable evidence of community support for a project. If your project plan involves in-kind contributions, we encourage you to include these details in the application narrative, itemized budget, and letters of support.

Many of our grant applications require applicants to include an itemized budget. The purpose of this itemized budget is to provide a more specific breakdown of the broader categories mentioned in the project income and project expense pages of the grant application. 

For example:

  • The project income page asks for admissions revenue. The itemized budget lists the estimated number of tickets that will be sold at various price points.
  • The project expense page asks for the overall artistic contract fees as a lump sum. The itemized budget lists the specific artists and their corresponding contract fees. 

These specifics are very helpful to the panelists reviewing your proposal. 

You can submit itemized budgets as Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. Your itemized budgets must match the totals provided in the project income and expense pages, but they should not simply be a copy of that information.

Receiving a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council means entering into a contract agreement with the state. 

This contract includes commitments by the grantee to adhere to various state and federal policies and laws. Applicants should familiarize themselves with these contractual obligations before applying for a grant.

Grant Award and Announcement

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North Carolina Arts Council is a state agency, and our grant award announcements are contingent on the state budget being finalized for the relevant fiscal year. This means that grant announcements can vary in timing, sometimes occurring in late July, and in some years delayed until as late as October.

If your project takes place early in the project period, it's important to understand that you might not receive the grant announcement and the payment until after your project activities have taken place. Please plan your project with this possible timing in mind. 

Grant Application Form

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If you have forgotten your username or password, click the Log In button from the GO Smart home page, then use the Forgot Username? | Forgot Password? links to retrieve your login information. 

GO Smart login page

Please note that to reset your credentials, you must be able to receive emails at the address originally used to create your account. If you no longer have access to that email, contact your representative at the North Carolina Arts Council for help in accessing your existing account.  

Only create a new GO Smart account for your organization if you have never applied before. If your organization has previously applied, do not create a new account.