Guide to Funding: Arts Operational Grant (DRAFT)

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Guide to Funding:  Arts Operational Grant (DRAFT)

Detailed Description Of Grant Program

To assist arts organizations in fulfilling their missions by providing funds to maintain their stability and encourage their advancement.

These grants provide general operating support to help meet costs related to regular programming activities and administration.

Funding Requirements:
Funding from the grant must be matched dollar for dollar by other cash income. In-kind services do not satisfy the matching requirement. The cash match must be met prior to submitting a Final Report, but no later than June 13, 2014. Funding from the City of Alexandria from other Departments, including Alexandria City Public Schools, cannot be used for the cash match.

  • Grant funding cannot exceed 25% of the organization's total budget. In calculating the 25% (or eligible amount for the request), the amount is based on the actual budget from the previous year.
  • The Commission reviews and sets the maximum amount of an Operating Support grant annually. The current maximum amount is $15,000.
  • Organizations may apply for only one Operating Support grant during a grant cycle.
  • Organizations that apply for an Operating Support grant are not eligible to apply for a Project grant in the same grant cycle.

In addition to the general eligibility requirements described in this Guide to Funding, the following requirements must be met for the Operating Support Grant applicants:

  • Must have as its primary mission the exhibition, presentation, production or performance of, and/or education in, an arts discipline;
  • Must have been in existence as an incorporated, Alexandria-based 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization for three years prior to the grant deadline.
  • To be considered an Alexandria-based organization, the organization must have its administrative offices in the City of Alexandria, or be able to demonstrate a similar sustained physical organizational presence within the City. An organization conducting three-quarters or more of its regular board meetings within the City for the 12 months prior to the grant deadline and during the grant period shall be considered an Alexandria-based organization;
  • At least 50% of the organization’s public artistic activities must have been held in Alexandria during the last year and at least 50% are projected to be held in Alexandria for the grant year; OR must have performed no fewer than five public programs and/or events in Alexandria within the 12 months prior to the grant deadline date;
  • Special consideration will be given to arts organizations whose primary offices and artistic activities are in the City of Alexandria.
  • Must be able to provide (as part of the application) a minimum of one full year of financial history completed prior to the grant deadline;
  • Must not apply for a City Project Grant in the same grant cycle.

Operating Support Grant Online Outline
The Operating Support Grant’s online application follows the outline below.  The outline acts as a guide for writing the grant and articulates grant specific attachments.  When submitting the hard copy of the grant packet, collate the grant packet in the exact order of the grant outline. 

  1. Organizational Background  
    1. State the mission of the organization.
    2. Describe the target audience(s) served by the organization. The description of audiences should include as appropriate their general geographic region (e.g., West End), racial/ethnic, socio-economic status, age, and gender makeup, and/or any special needs their members have.
    3. Describe the key strategies/activities used by the organization to advance its mission and serve its target audience(s).
    4. Provide a brief history of the organization.
  2. Planned Season or Program  
    1. Describe the annual organizational and/or artistic goals for this grant cycle. Ensure that SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals are presented.
    2. Describe briefly all arts activities proposed in this grant application, highlighting how these activities advance the organizational mission, contribute to the accomplishment of the annual goals, and serve the target audience(s).
    3. Complete the Program Calendar included in the online application. 
  1. Artistic Excellence  
    1. Describe the background of key artistic personnel and their roles.  Explain what qualifies them for their positions, highlighting their education, artistic accomplishments, and their success in engaging the public with the arts. Include  short biographies for key artistic personnel.
    2. Provide evidence of the artistic excellence of the organization's past arts activities, which may include, but is not limited to, published reviews, work samples, supporting materials, and independent evaluations. Please include links as available to online work samples (e.g., performance videos, online exhibitions).
    3. Describe how the organization's annual program and strategic plan provide the opportunity for continued artistic development and innovation.
  1. Public Benefit to the City of Alexandria  
    1. Describe how the organization's programs enhance the artistic experiences and public benefit to the City's residents.
    2. Describe the organization’s plan for community engagement and outreach to, and participation by, a diverse audience (e.g., through free or reduced ticket, audience talks or other opportunities provided to the City’s residents).
    3. Describe how the organization's programs provide an opportunity to develop local or regional talent.
    4. Describe how the organization attracts audiences from outside Alexandria.
    5. Describe how the organization has made a positive economic impact on Alexandria.

  2. Planning, Management and Implementation (include course and professional organization lists)  
    1. Describe the organization's ability to plan, implement, and evaluate previous programs of comparable scope and complexity.
    2. Describe the background of key management personnel that qualify them for their positions, highlighting their education, accomplishments, and their success in engaging the public with the arts. Include  short biographies for key management personnel.
    3. Provide a timeline of key implementation steps/tasks required to accomplish the planned season/program. Steps should include major milestones in planning and implementing the annual program, including deadline for finalizing annual program, release dates for annual program marketing, and major exhibition/event opening dates. If dates have not been confirmed, please mark dates as tentative.
    4. Describe the organization's methods for evaluating the accomplishment of both artistic and organizational goals. This section must include a description of the method used to track participation in arts activities and documenting the impact of arts activities on participants (e.g., through audience surveys or other methods).
    5. Describe the organization’s ability to achieve the previous year’s goals.
    6. Describe the Board's Committee structure and identify the authorized number of Board Members, last year's number of Board Meetings, and approximate average Board attendance.
    7. Identify the number of full-time and part-time paid employees/volunteers.
    8. Describe the make-up of key personnel, board and other volunteers and how they reflect the organization’s target audience(s). In the description, highlight general geographic, racial/ethnic, economic, age, and gender makeup, and/or any special needs they have (if applicable).
    9. List the names and the dates of training, seminars, workshops, and similar programs related to professional, artistic, organizational and board development attended by key personnel, board and other volunteers in the last 3 years.
    10. List any professional organizations to which the organization and key personnel, board and other volunteers belong.
    11. Describe the organization’s method of strategic planning, including how the Board, staff, and other key stakeholders are engaged in the planning process.
    12. Attach the organization's Strategic Plan.
  1. Finances  
    1. Complete budget pages included in the online application.
    2. Budget Narrative: The Budget Narrative gives the applicant the opportunity to explain the Budget.
    3. Note any significant shifts in income and/or expenses from year to year.
    4. If the Budget includes "Other" expenses that are greater than $1,000, the Budget Narrative should explain those expenses.
    5. The Budget Narrative should also be used to describe how the organization will secure the financial resources necessary to meet the 1:1 "cash match" requirement.
    6. Explain any long-term debts, and include a debt reduction plan if applicable.


  1. Marketing/Fund-raising (include a list of contributors) 
    1. Provide a marketing plan with a variety of marketing methods for promoting the annual program (i.e., newsletter, advertisements, mailing, web site, etc.). The plan should include a discussion of social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) as an integral part of the organization’s marketing strategy.
    2. Provide a fund-raising plan which addresses how the organization will attract diverse funding sources (including in-kind support)
    3. Provide a current list of contributors.