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Grant Frequently Asked Questions

Non-profit organizations who have not had their 501c status for three years (date listed on IRS determination letter) may apply using a Fiscal Agent. A Fiscal Agent is an organization that agrees to accept and be responsible for grant monies on your behalf. The Fiscal Agent must meet all eligibility requirements, and is fiscally and legally responsible for any grant award. (Note – the Arts Council will not be a Fiscal Agent for any applying organization due to conflict of interest). Please contact staff for a fiscal agent application.

While the mission of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County is to support individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the cultural arts, the Board of Trustees recognizes the valuable contributions of arts, cultural and historic programming conducted by 501(c) and government agencies whose primary mission is not focused in these areas. However, in order to remain in compliance with restrictions set forth by our funding partners and to maximize our dollars to meet our mission, the Arts Council has set forth these funding priorities in order of priority:

  1. 501(c) organizations whose primary mission is arts, culture or history.
  2. Universities, schools, and government entities with ongoing arts and culture programming.
  3. Other 501(c) and government agencies that conduct periodic arts and culture programming.

These priorities are taken into consideration by the grants panel along with the criteria set forth in the Project Support Grant guidelines when making funding recommendations to the Arts Council Board of Trustees.

  • New programming or previously funded programs with new components, elements or arts/culture/history professionals
  • Programs that develop and employ local artists or cultural professionals.
  • Programs of color (programs which employ OR present works by a majority of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, American Indians and other diverse populations).
  • Programs that encourage underdeveloped disciplines.
  • Programs that broaden participation by attracting more people; diversify participation by attracting audiences different from those the organization is already attracting; or, deepen participation by increasing current participants' levels of involvement.
  • Organizations that demonstrate plans for future funding of the project.
  • Programs that target traditionally underserved populations. (See Outreach Programs under examples of fundable programs).
  • Programs that utilize professional artists or cultural professionals in educational and other supplemental activities such as: literary readings, open rehearsals, question and answer sessions, master classes, meet-the-artist/cultural professional receptions, pre-and post-event discussions, workshops and lecture/demonstrations.
  • Programs that develop cultural tourism and enhance the visitor’s experience.
  • Programs that include collaborations with other non-profit organizations in the community.

The first step in applying for a Project Support Grant is submitting a Letter of Intent form. Organizations whose projects were previously funded by the Arts Council can complete the LOI for Previously Funded Projects if they are requesting funding for the same project. All new organizations and new projects by retuning organizations must submit a LOI for New Projects.

If your organization feels that it complies with all the requirements for this category stated in the guidelines, please contact staff to confirm eligibility.

With the exception of Series Organizational Support, Project Support Grant funds can be used for program-related fees and contracts; marketing and advertising expenses; expendable supplies and materials that are related to the project; space rental, etc. If you are unsure of the eligibility of an expense, please contact the Arts Council at 910-323-1776.

In-kind support is defined as anything provided by another agency to the project (space rental, supplies, printed materials, volunteer time, advertising space, etc.) at no cost to the applicant. In-kind contributions cannot be counted as part of the applicant’s match. However, we encourage applicants to include this information as it can better express the full scope of their project as well as demonstrate community collaboration within your project.

There are two deadlines available for Project Support applicant organizations. Organizations who wish to have their applications reviewed for completeness and verification that all requirements have been met must upload their application to Sharefile by the Early Bird Review Deadline. You will be notified within 10 business days of any additional documents needed.

 Applications submitted by the Final Application Deadline will not be reviewed by staff. Please note that incomplete applications will not be presented to the grants panel.

We encourage organizations to submit their applications by the Early Bird Review Deadline. Applicants that are missing information or attachments when submitted by the Early Bird deadline will have the opportunity to submit these additional materials to make their applications complete. If organizations who submit applications by the final application deadline have incomplete applications, their applications will not be submitted to the Panel.

A Grants Panel will review Project Support Grant applications. The Panel consists of volunteers with professional experience in arts, culture, history, education, grants, finance, and management. The Panel will be representative of our diverse community. At least one member of the Panel will be an Arts Council Trustee. The written application and attachments are the applicant’s opportunity to present its best case for funding support. The panel makes funding recommendations based on information provided. The Arts Council staff does not vote on awards. Final approval of awards is voted on by the Arts Council Board of Trustees.

Please note – it is understood that not every program will meet or embrace every evaluation criteria. Each application will be evaluated on an overall impression of the applicant’s strengths in the following areas:

Artistic/Cultural/Historic Merit and Integrity – 45 points

  • A project that is new, creative or unique to Cumberland County
  • Programming of high artistic, cultural and/or historic merit defined as consistent, well-executed programming within the context of the applicant’s stated mission, goals, environment and history of accomplishment
  • Use of professional artists or cultural professionals with appropriate compensation
  • Use of local artists or cultural professionals
  • Organizational structure must fall within these guidelines:

Program Impact – 30 points

  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of community and audience needs: programs are well attended and engage audiences and participants
  • Programs that respond to the racial and cultural diversity of the county
  • A diversity of participants, including persons or groups who have limited arts or cultural opportunities due to educational, geographic, cultural, physical, economic or other constraints
  • Utilizing professional artists or cultural professionals in educational and other supplemental activities such as: literary readings, open rehearsals, question and answer sessions, master classes, meet-the-artist/cultural professional receptions, pre-and post-event discussions, workshops and lecture/demonstrations.
  • Involvement of avocational and/or professional artists, the majority of whom are African American, Asian American, Latino or Native American
  • Degree to which the organization seeks to work collaboratively and share resources with other community groups
  • Degree to which the organization adequately planned with partner organizations and other key participants
  • If project was previously funded: degree to which project goals were met, evaluation of new components and levels of participation.

Program & Execution Management – 25 points

  • Management strength and financial stability/accountability of the applicant organization
  • Administrative capacity, resources, budget and program planning and expertise to ensure success
  • Feasibility of proposed project
  • Effective marketing
  • Appropriate evaluation strategies that are matched to program goals
  • Applicant organization’s past performance as an Arts Council grantee (where applicable)
  • Ability to manage and execute deliverable actions (the program) as stated in the application.
  • Ability to meet deadlines.


This is an extremely competitive process; therefore, applicants are encouraged to develop a strong application and utilize the Arts Council staff and these guidelines. Not every application will receive funding. Last year, the Arts Council funded approximately 91% of the Project Support Applications submitted. However, less than approximately 12% of applicants receive full funding.