Designated County Partners


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Application dates

  • OPEN: Tuesday, March 1, 2022
  • DUE: Monday, May 2, 2022

Staff contact

Janelle Wienke

Janelle Wienke
Arts in Communities Director
(919) 814-6506
Email Janelle




In most counties, local arts councils have been nominated by their county governments and approved by the N.C. Arts Council as Designated County Partners (DCPs) to manage the Grassroots allotment. In order to maintain its designated status, a local arts council must meet the following standards:

  • Provide support for quality programming in the performing, visual, literary and traditional arts. Programming choices are responsive to community needs and demonstrate improvement and innovation. Programming choices also engage constituents across geographic, cultural, social and economic strata.
  • Foster collaborative relationships with and provide services and support for county arts organizations and arts resources.
  • Support individual artists in the county through services and opportunities including appropriately compensating artists for services. Promote and participate in the Artist Support Grant program.
  • Conduct or support arts in education programs led by qualified artists for pre-K-12 students. DCP shows commitment to comprehensive arts education opportunities for the county’s youth.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to racial and cultural equity in programming, board representation, governance, and administrative practices.
  • Demonstrate stability and fiscal responsibility through effective board and staff leadership, sound administrative practices and strategic planning. If staffed, arts councils must provide appropriate salaries and benefits.
  • Track economic impact and actively participates in county tourism and economic development efforts.
  • Maintain a history of managing the Grassroots grant responsibly and according to requirements, including meeting the deadlines for applications, fulfilling the subgranting and multicultural requirements and completing final reports.   

A complete Designated County Partner guidebook is available for download. For FY 2022-23, special amendments have been made to the guidebook in response to the pandemic and the availability of federal relief funds. Please read the updated information before applying. 

Grassroots Arts program subgrant system overview

DCPs with county populations above 50,000 are required to subgrant at least 50 percent of their allocations to other organizations in their county to conduct arts programs. If the DCP is not required to subgrant, but chooses to, these same guidelines must be followed.

Eligibility for Subgrants
Organizations must have been in operation for at least one year. While nonprofit 501(c)(3) status is preferred, organizations that are nonprofit in nature may also receive Grassroots Arts Program subgrants.

Priorities for Funding

  1. The first priority for awarding subgrants is to provide program or operating support to qualified arts organizations (where they exist), including theaters, symphonies, galleries, art guilds, choral societies, dance companies, folk arts societies, writers groups, and arts festivals, among others. Grassroots funds are not generally awarded to arts organizations that receive funding through the N.C. Arts Council’s State Arts Resources (SAR) Program. SAR organizations must receive prior approval from the N.C. Arts Council staff before applying for Grassroots funds.
  2. The second priority for subgranting grassroots funds is to support arts learning and arts-in-education programs conducted by qualified artists. These can be artist residencies in schools, after-school summer camps, or adult arts learning classes. Grassroots funds may not be used for activities associated with a school’s internal arts programs such as in-school student performances, the purchase of art supplies, or student arts competitions and publications.
  3. The third priority includes subgrants made to other community, civic, and municipal organizations that provide quality experiences for the greater community. These programs must be conducted by qualified artists.

Scope and allowable expenses

DCPs may use up to 50 percent of their grant funds for general operating support; the remaining 50 percent must be used for arts programming as follows:

  • DCPs with county populations above 50,000 are required to subgrant at least 50 percent of their allocations to other organizations to conduct arts programs.
  • DCPs with county populations below 50,000 must use 50 percent of their funds for arts programs that they conduct or for grants to other organizations to conduct arts programs.

To ensure that Grassroots Arts Programs reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our state, each DCP is required to spend a representative percentage of its annual county allotment on programs that reflect the diverse cultures (specifically African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American) of its county’s population. The minimum amount a DCP must spend on multicultural programming is provided on an allocation chart by county and is available on the Local Arts Council resources page.

Application information

In response to the pandemic, all DCPs will submit two separate application forms: 

  1. a modified application for FY2022-23 state Grassroots funds
  2. a spending plan application for the FY2022-23 federal Grassroots funds (ARPA)

Submit your applications through the GO Smart grant portal. Applicants will be asked to provide the following information.

Profile questions
In addition to contact information, you will be asked to submit your organization’s mission statement, an organizational history, and both an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number.

Application narrative for pandemic response application
These questions should be answered as they relate to the entire scope of the organization, not just as your role as a DCP. Because these questions relate to the entire scope of your organization, please fold your plans for the additional federal Grassroots money broadly into your answers. You will also submit a separate application that specifically focuses on the spending plan for the federal Grassroots money. 

  1. Provide a brief description of your organization’s plan to use the Grassroots funds in FY 2022-2023.  (Upload a schedule of programs for the coming fiscal year, if plans have been made.)
  2. Describe the overall status of your organization in terms of capacity.  What lasting impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your organization?  Provide specific details about current staffing, operations, and budget.
  3. What audience/participant behaviors are you currently observing that has shaped your planning for the coming year?  Describe any strategies you have developed to engage audiences.
  4. Provide operating income and expense information for the last, current, and upcoming fiscal years.
  5. Attach a current board of directors list with contact information.

Application narrative for federal Grassroots funds (ARPA)
This information should only pertain to the additional federal Grassroots award for the coming year.

  1. Upload a spending plan for organization’s use the federal Grassroots funds in FY 2022-2023 (ARPA).  Be as specific as you can with details and budget estimations for programming, operational costs, and subgranting plans as possible. 
  2. Describe how your organization developed the spending plan.  Specially address your attention to the overall stabilization and capacity-building of the arts sector in your county, including those who may have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

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 Arts in Education Director & Accessibility Coordinator, Kathleen Collier, at or 919-814-6515.

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