Designated County Partners

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:
Download the Grassroots Arts Program guidebook »

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 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.

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
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.

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.

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.

How to Apply

In response to the pandemic, all DCPs will submit a modified update application for FY2021-22 Grassroots funds.  The 2021-22 deadline is Monday, May 3, 2021. Applicants will submit the form electronically through the GO Smart portal.

The following information will be requested in the pandemic response update application. These questions should be answered as they relate to the entire scope of the organization, not just as your role as a DCP. Organizations will also be asked to provide operating income and expense information for the last, current, and upcoming fiscal years.

  1. Describe how your organization’s operations and programs have shifted during the pandemic (i.e. changes in staff, facilities, financial condition, organizational structure and programming).
  2. Provide a brief description of your organization’s plan to use the Grassroots funds in FY 2021-2022.
  3. Beyond meeting the Grassroots multi-cultural spending requirement, describe your organization's current efforts to address racial and cultural inequities within your organization and the audiences you serve. Include specific information regarding self-assessment strategies, staff and board training, changes in hiring practices, community focus groups, etc.

Note: The N.C. Arts Council is surveying our primary arts partners to understand the current state of organizations' efforts related to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.  This data will help us shape future programs and services.

  1. Attach a financial statement or audit for your most recently completed fiscal year (2019-20).
  2. Provide operating income and expense information for the last, current, and upcoming fiscal years.
  3. Attach a current board of directors list with contact information.