Guidelines for North Carolina CARES for Arts Grants

As part of the state’s spending plan for federal CARES Act funding, $9.4 million was designated to provide direct aid to arts councils and arts organizations in an effort to mitigate business disruptions caused by COVID-19.  These funds will be distributed on a per-capita basis to all North Carolina counties with a population less than 1 million people.

The purpose of the funds is to offset business disruption and/or expenses incurred due to COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020.  The following expenses can be considered:  paid salaries and benefits (including contractors), on-going operating expenses, costs associated with canceling programs and creating virtual programs, and COVID-related safety and cleaning measures.  For the purpose of this grant program, revenue losses are not considered for mitigation.  North Carolina CARES for Arts funding cannot reimburse any expenses already paid for by other federal relief funds such as PPP loans, direct grants from the NEA, and stimulus grants issued by the North Carolina Arts Council.

Where to Apply

The North Carolina Arts Council will distribute North Carolina CARES for Arts funding in two ways:

  • In many counties, the local arts council will take the lead in making grant awards by applying for the county allotment from the N.C Arts Council and then sub-granting to local eligible arts groups.  In this scenario, grant applications from local arts organizations will be submitted to the local arts council for review.
  • In the remaining counties, the North Carolina Arts Council will accept direct applications from arts organizations.
  • Click here to learn where to apply.

Counties that Apply Directly to North Carolina Arts Council

Eligibility and Scope

Organizations that meet the following criteria are eligible to apply directly to the N.C. Arts Council to receive CARES for Arts funding:

  • Must be a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization located in North Carolina.
  • Must have arts and culture in the agency’s mission statement; or must have arts and cultural programming as a core activity (25% or more of budget most recently approved before September 1, 2020).
  • Must demonstrate the costs of business interruption caused by COVID-19 and/or increased expenses incurred by pandemic-related activities.

Grants will be awarded by county on a per-capita basis.  Grant amounts will vary depending on the size of the business interruption claim, the number of eligible applications received from the county, and funding availability.  

As funds are meant to reimburse expenses incurred between March and December, North Carolina CARES for Arts grant awards can be used towards the on-going operations and programming of grantee and do not require a match.  Final reports will be due on July 31, 2021.

How to Apply

Applications will be available in the online GO Smart portal on October 1, 2020 with a deadline of Friday, October 23, 2020.  The following questions and documents will be required for the application:

Narrative questions and uploads:

  1. Provide your mission statement.
  2. Provide a brief description of your pre-pandemic core arts programming.  Include details about the audiences who participate in and benefit from the programs.
  3. North Carolina’s “stay at home” order (Executive Order 117) had a profound impact on the arts sector in North Carolina.  Describe the specific steps your organization took to comply with Executive Order 117.
  4. If you are a local arts council that has agreed to subgrant any part of your county’s allocation, upload your subgranting plan.  Include a tentative list of the anticipated subgrant recipients and the funding estimates. (The amount of your subgranting plan plus the amount that you are requesting to retain for your own organization should equal the full county allotment.)
  5. Upload documentation that supports the itemized worksheet. (ie: receipts, bill/invoices, monthly financial statements)
  6. If you are a local arts council that has agreed to subgrant your county’s full allocation, upload a tentative list of the anticipated subgrant recipients and the funding estimates totaling your county allocation.
  7. Upload a copy of your IRS Determination Letter.

The deadline for submission is Friday, October 23, 2020.



Vicki Vitiello
Director of Operations & Arts Learning

Leigh Ann Wilder
Creative Economies Director