Reminder: Please review general grant eligibility and guidelines before proceeding.
The purpose of the Spark the Arts grants is to support arts providers as they reengage with the public through a combination of programming, marketing, rebuilding staff capacity, and facilitating safety protocols. This broad project category replaces Program Support for now and includes two application tracks: audience re-engagement and audience inclusion. Projects of the kind previously supported by the Arts Equity Project Grant and the Military and Veterans Healing Arts Grant categories are welcome within this category.
To be eligible for Spark the Arts funding, applicants:
Designated and provisional county partners who receive the Grassroots Arts Program allocation for their county are not eligible to apply for Spark the Arts project grants. However, these organizations are allowed to serve as a fiscal agent* for an applicant who requires that service.
Organizations that received a direct ARPA line-item in the state budget for general operations are not eligible to apply for Spark the Arts project grants.
The creation and curation of arts activities is fundamental to all arts programs; however, the Spark the Arts category places a special emphasis on strategies to engage audiences and participants in the work. Grant applications will be considered in two tracks based on the applicant’s audience goals: 1) reengagement (bringing audiences back/reimagining engagement with audiences); and 2) inclusion (seeking new audiences/investing in new voices).
Examples of reengagement projects may include:
Examples of inclusion work projects may include:
Grant amounts will range from $3,000 to $30,000. 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), equipment, and other costs specifically related to the project. Applicants may use up to 50 percent of the grant amount for organizational overhead expenses including salaries that are directly related to the project.
Projects that involve school-age children outside of the classroom can apply for Spark the Arts grant funds; however, projects that take place as part of the school-day experience should refer to Arts in Education grant guidelines.
The project period for funding is July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.
In some cases, Spark the Arts funding can support projects that span two years. To be considered for a two-year proposal, the applicant must 1) make a compelling case why two years of funding is needed to achieve the goals of the project, and 2) provide detailed plans for the full scope of the project.
For example, Spark the Arts grants can support commissioning projects that span two years, with the creation of the new work in year one and the premiere in year two.
Organizations funded for a two-year project will receive notification of the full amount at the time of the award; however, payments will be split between the two fiscal years.
Applicants who believe that a two-year funding request best suits their engagement and/or inclusion needs must submit a letter of intent to their Arts Council staff contact no later than April 20, 2022.
Advisory panels will review applications using the following evaluation criteria:
Submit your application through the GO Smart grant portal. New users to the grant portal will need to create a profile before applying for the Spark the Arts grant.
The following questions and documents will be required for the application.
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.
Additionally, you will be required to submit an itemized project budget and artist work samples that demonstrate the proficiency of the artist(s) involved in the project.
If an applicant based in North Carolina does not meet the following criteria, they may use a fiscal agent:
North Carolina Arts Council's fiscal agency policy for the Spark the Arts grant category
Fiscal agents must meet the aforementioned eligibility criteria and must be willing to accept legal and fiduciary responsibility for the grant funding if awarded. Typically, 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 Spark the Arts 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 and submit contracting paperwork. 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 applying directly to the Spark the Arts category cannot act as a fiscal agent for another applicant. Organizations that receive their county’s Grassroots Arts Program allocation are allowed to serve as a fiscal agent for one application to the category. Organizations are allowed to provide fiscal agency for only one applicant per granting cycle/fiscal year.
Please note that grant funds received by entities that are not 501(c)(3) are considered taxable income.