Cultural Vision Grants
The Cultural Vision Grant program directly responds to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community’s interest in arts, science, history and heritage programming that builds strong communities and demonstrates innovative, relevant and transformative cultural expression as outlined in the Cultural Vision Plan. ASC seeks to support high quality arts and culture projects presented within Mecklenburg County by creative individuals or nonprofit organizations that:
Build Community by:
- Connecting individuals across points of difference to increase understanding and acceptance and positive regard between our communities; and/or
- Nurturing, celebrating and supporting the authentic cultures and creative expression of specific neighborhoods.
Increase Relevance and Innovation by:
- Activating nontraditional performance or exhibition spaces close to where people live; and/or
- Providing groundbreaking and participatory experiences that reflect the changing communities in which we live.
Successful applicants will demonstrate a commitment to quality and clear intention toward at least one of the aforementioned objectives with capacity for success.
ASC is particularly interested in expending support to programs occurring in Charlotte/Mecklenburg communities north of I-85, along the South Boulevard, West Boulevard and Central Avenue corridors – as well as programs that engage communities in scientific and historic curiosity.
Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded. Grantees will be required to provide matching dollars toward the project expenses. Generally, applicants will be required to match dollar-for-dollar in cash or a combination of cash and in-kind.
Successful applicants will demonstrate a commitment to quality and clear intention toward at least one of the aforementioned objectives with capacity for success.
Please consider applying if your project meets the following criteria:
- The project is an arts, science, history or heritage project that takes place in Mecklenburg County.
- At the time of application, applicant is either an individual with a primary residence in Mecklenburg County or a Mecklenburg County-based, non-profit, tax-exempt organization that is in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (Groups that do not have tax-exempt status may apply through a fiscal sponsor organization – see FAQs.)
- Collaborative projects are welcomed. Organizations working together should identify a single organization who will serve as the grant applicant and fiscal sponsor.
- Religious organizations and institutions of higher education may apply provided the project reaches the broader community and does not contain religious content.
- Organizations that have a current and active ASC Operating Support or Project Grant are not eligible to apply for Cultural Vision Grants. (Note: This restriction will be revised for subsequent funding cycles.) However, these organizations may serve as a partner or fiscal sponsor.
- Projects that are religious in nature or specifically serve only church membership or faculty/student body are not eligible.
- Projects that involve work with preK-12 children during the school day are not eligible to apply.
- Organizations that have delinquent paperwork for a previously-funded ASC grant are not eligible to apply.
- Generally, ASC will not consider multiple requests from the same organization (with the exception of large 501(c)(3) organizations with multiple locations such as the library system, YMCA or college/university). Please contact the Grants Office at 70-335-3050 to discuss eligibility of multiple requests.
Cultural Vision Grants are funded through the generous support of donors to the ASC Annual Fund Drive, the City of Charlotte, and the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Pineville, Matthews and Mint Hill. These funds are leveraged with a grant from the Grassroots Arts Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency. As a Designated County Partner of the North Carolina Arts Council, ASC is responsible for the local distribution of Grassroots Arts Program funds. Recipients will be responsible for complying with all North Carolina Arts Council and ASC paperwork.
How to Apply
- Letter of Intent Deadline: The deadline to submit a letter of application for Cultural Vision Grants has closed. The deadline to submit for the next round of grants will be posted on this page in late May/early June. All applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by the published deadline in order to be eligible to submit a Full Application. Please note that Letters of Intent submitted after the published deadline cannot be accepted.
- Conversation with ASC Program Staff: TBD. An ASC Program Director will contact you to arrange a brief conversation or meeting to discuss your Letter of Intent.You will be asked to submit your availability for this conversation in the Letter of Intent. This 30-minute conversation can be scheduled either by phone or in person.
- Invitation to Full Application: TBD. Following ASC’s review of each proposal’s alignment with the goals of the Cultural Vision Grant, select candidates will be invited to submit a full application for review by our application review panel. Included in this invitation will be specific guidance on the funding amount the applicant may request.
- Full Application Draft Review: All applicants invited to submit a full application will meet with program staff for consultation while preparing their full application. Additionally, those applicants who are interested may submit a Draft of their Full Application for review by the ASC Program Director. Drafts may be submitted by clicking the “Email Draft” button from inside the Full Application form online.
- Full Application Deadline: TBD. All applicants are required to apply through our online application system. You will be given access to the online Full Application after review of your Letter of Intent by an ASC Program Director. Unfortunately, applications received after the deadline cannot be accepted.
- Award Notification: TBD.
In an ongoing effort to assist applicants with the development of requests for funding, applicants will be required to submit a Letter of Intent prior to accessing the Full Application. The Letter of Intent submission will be followed by a conversation with an ASC Program Director who will guide the applicant through suggested revisions to the proposal and other ideas to make the request as competitive as possible. Additionally, those applicants who are invited to a Full Application will work with an ASC Program Director as they develop their final submission. Online grant-writing tips are available here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How will my application be reviewed?
A: ASC staff will review Letters of Intent for eligibility and potential for success in advancing the objectives of the Cultural Vision Grants. Selected candidates will then be invited to submit a full application for review by our application review panel. Panelists are selected and assigned based on interests and expertise. The panel is chaired by an ASC board member, and comprised of members of the ASC Board of Directors as well as community members ASC staff cannot serve as panel members. Panelists assess the strengths and weaknesses of each application. Based on panel evaluation and available funds, panelists make recommendations for funding to the ASC Board of Directors. All Cultural Vision Grant applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:
- Vision (10 points) – Evidence that the project will advance the Cultural Vision Grant’s objectives to build community and increase relevance and innovation in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg community.
- Leadership (10 points) – Evidence that the project has the creative leadership and committed partnerships necessary to bring community building experiences or relevant/innovative experiences to fruition.
- Audience (10 points) – Evidence that the project has a defined audience and concrete plans to engage that audience.
- Impact (10 points) – Evidence of metrics and measures for success that directly align with Cultural Vision Grant goals.
- Budget (10 points) – Evidence of a clear summary of the projected revenue and expenses.
Applications will be reviewed by your responses to open-ended style questions within the application and submission of required attachments to include bios of key project contributors and letters of support or participation from project partners. Applicants will also submit evaluation plans and a budget using the templates provided.
Cultural Vision Grant panelists are not required to attend activities and may not necessarily be familiar with your organization. Therefore, as you prepare your application, it is important to clearly articulate the value, impact and quality of the project.
Q: How much can I request?
A: Applicants will be asked to provide information about anticipated budget and sources of financial support when submitting their Letter of Intent. ASC will use this information to direct applicants as to how much they may request in their formal application (no greater than $10,000). This is a competitive process and applicants are encouraged to develop a strong application and be realistic with regard to funding expectations. Every application will not receive funding, and not all that receive funding will receive their full request.
Q: Am I required to match the grant?
A: Applicants are required to leverage the investment by providing a match. In an attempt to work with small, emerging groups with limited resources, ASC may negotiate this requirement, but typically the match must be 100% cash or a combination of 50% cash and 50% in-kind support. Applicants should project fundraising efforts, if they do not have the cash on hand. Funds may not be used to match any other North Carolina Arts Council grant. Likewise, other state arts council grants may not be used to match this grant.
Q: What is a Fiscal Sponsor?
A: The Fiscal Sponsor (or Fiscal Agent) is an organization that agrees to accept and be responsible for grant monies on your behalf. The Fiscal Sponsor must be a Mecklenburg County-based non-profit organization. Individuals and groups that do not have tax-exempt status will need to apply through a Fiscal Sponsor. In limited cases, ASC may serve as this fiscal sponsor for compelling applications. All grant payments will be made payable to the Fiscal Sponsor organization. It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify a Fiscal Sponsor and to outline specific responsibilities of each party.
Q: What is in-kind support?
A: In-kind support is defined as anything provided to the project (space rental, supplies, printed materials, volunteer time, etc.) at no cost to the applicant. All contributions should be given an appropriate cash value. Commonly-used in-kind support includes volunteer time. The estimated dollar value of volunteer time by the Independent Sector is $21.36/hour.
Q: How will I receive funding, if awarded?
A: Funding schedules will vary, depending on both the scope and duration of the project proposal. Submission of initial paperwork will be required for a first installment, and final report submission will be required before final payments are made.
Q: What types of projects have been funded in the past?
A: ASC’s first call for Cultural Vision Grant proposals went out in Fall 2017. Awards will be announced in early 2017.
Q: What can Cultural Vision Grant dollars be used for?
A: ASC funds can be used for program-related fees & contracts, marketing & advertising expenses, expendable supplies & materials, space rental, etc. If you are unsure if you can use grant funds for a specific expense, please see the list of ineligible costs below or contact the Grants Office at 704-335-3053.
Q: Can Cultural Vision Grants support public art projects?
A: ASC happily accepts proposals for funding to support public art projects, provided they meet the above stated criteria. Public art gives meaning to spaces by evoking memories, making connections between cultures, exploring differences through illuminating them, telling stories, and provoking thought and discussion. Public art is not a tool for PR or marketing or solely beautification or decoration. ASC believes that much of the value of public art lies in the process. Therefore, requests for funding to support public art projects must:
- Define the community that will engage in and be the beneficiary of the project.
- Display evidence that the community will be involved in the identification of the project purpose and concept.
- Display evidence that the community will be involved in the artist selection process.
- Display evidence that the selected artist will engage the community in the development and/or fabrication of the work.
Requests that do not follow this process will be considered ineligible. Additionally, please note that a common obstacle faced by these type projects is securing a suitable location for the work, especially if the proposed location is publicly owned. If funding is awarded for a public art project, the applicant must submit proof that a location has been secured prior to the disbursement of the first payment.
Q: Other than the online application information, can I submit any additional support material?
A: All required and supporting documents and materials must be submitted using our online application system. In some cases, this may require the use of a scanner. Please note that each application is limited to five (5) pages of support material which must be uploaded as a single document. Submissions in excess of this will be deleted at the sole discretion of the Program Director.
Q: I have questions regarding the Accessibility Checklist.
A: Please check the FAQ tab found on the Accessibility Checklist. If your question is still unanswered, please contact the ASC Grants Office at 704-335-3053.
Q: The application asks me to provide my City of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County District numbers. Where do I find these?
A: If you do not know your district information, go to the website below and follow the steps listed: http://maps.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/geoportal/
- Input the address and press Enter.
- From the drop-down menu, select Voting.
- Your County District Number will be located under “Mecklenburg County Commission District”. Your City District Number will be located under “Charlotte City Council District.”
If your organization or project is not located within the Charlotte city limits, please choose N/A for City District Number. County District information assists with the review of your application. In addition, it allows the ASC to track the reach of its investments.
Q: If my organization receives funding, what will we be required?
A: Cultural Vision Grant recipients may be required to do the following:
- Complete and return a Funding Agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the award.
- Submit a copy of a board-approved Conflict of Interest Policy and a No Overdue Tax Debt certification form, per North Carolina Office of State Budget & Management requirements. (If you apply using a Fiscal Sponsor, it is your responsibility to ensure the fiscal organization completes this paperwork).
- Comply with ASC Marketing Guidelines for Grantees including usage of the ASC and North Carolina Arts Council logos and credit lines in all materials related to the funded project.
- Comply with all ASC and North Carolina Arts Council policies, and Office of State Budget and Management requirements, where applicable. See www.ncarts.org/guidelines/grant_program.cfm?ID=22 and https://www.ncgrants.gov/NCGrants/PublicReportsRegulations.jsp for more information.
- Submit a final report and all additional paperwork, which may include NC Office of State Budget and Management forms and certification, and project documentation, no later than 30 days after the project has been completed.
- Comply with ASC requests for evaluation of Cultural Vision Grant objectives, including audience/participant and organizational feedback.
- Attend an informational session to further detail the requirements listed above.
Q: I have more questions. Where can I get help?
A: ASC’s Cultural and Community Investment staff is available to answer questions as you develop your application. Please contact the Grants Office at 704-335-3053.
The following is a list of ineligible costs:
- Prizes, including scholarships, tuition or financial awards.
- Purchase of artifacts or artwork.
- Capital expenditures – funds for expenses for purchase of buildings or real estate, renovations or improvements involving structural changes, payments for roads, driveways or parking lots, or permanent and generally immobile equipment such as grid systems or central air conditioning. Also includes acquisitions, which are expenses for additions to a collection of art.
- Contingency funds – funds for an event that may occur but that is not likely or intended.
- Costs for selling and/or marketing any products or services of the organization unrelated to the funded project.
- Deficit reduction, bad debts, interest on loans, indirect cost rate expenses, losses on other awards or contracts, or fines, penalties, or litigation costs.
- Donations and contributions to other organizations.
- Entertainment costs (costs of amusement, diversion, social activities, ceremonials, and costs relating thereto, such as meals, lodging, rentals, transportation and gratuities) or costs for food or beverages for parties/receptions
- Fundraising and investment management costs. Events specifically designed to fund-raise.
- Goods or services for personal use of the organization’s employees.
- Lobbying expenses.
- Organizational establishment or reorganization costs.
- Acrobatics, aerobic dance, beauty pageant, clowning, cosmetology, essay contests, fashion shows, juggling, magic shows, martial arts, modeling, quiz bowls, and travel presentations.