The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) has long recognized the importance of having adequate facilities in order to grow the number of artistic and creative opportunities in the state. To help expand the number of arts facilities in the state, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated funds to support the Building Fund for the Arts (BFA), a special initiative managed by MAC, starting in 2001. BFA is focused on supporting the repair, renovation, or expansion of public facilities that are used for arts programming.


Between 2001 and 2018, the Legislature authorized a total of $19.2 million in bond funds for the program. As of June 2022, 99 projects funded through the program have been completed. Some facilities that have been completed with BFA funding include the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, the MSU Riley Center in Meridian, and The Powerhouse Arts Center in Oxford. For the first time since 2007, new funds have been approved for BFA in the amount of $3 million to improve arts facilities across the state.

Program Goal:

The primary goal of BFA is to support the repair, renovation, expansion or construction of facilities that serve as sites for year-round arts programming in their communities. MAC is focused on maximizing the impact of existing facilities through repair and expansion projects as well as increasing the number of facilities that can serve as points of public access to the arts for Mississippi residents.

Letter of Intent:

Starting in July 2022, those who are interested in applying for funding through the Building Fund for the Arts program should submit a Letter of Intent through MAC’s e-grant system. Letter of Intent submission deadline is August 5, 2022. Upon login, click “Apply” in the top left corner, then select “Building Fund for the Arts” from the list of available applications. These proposals will be reviewed by MAC staff, and eligible organizations will be invited to submit a full application. Full applications will open by invitation for submission in August 2022.

Application Deadline: September 19

NOTE: Neither the letter of intent nor the application are open for submission at this time.

All forms (letter of intent, application & final report) must be submitted through MAC’s e-grant system. MAC does not accept paper or emailed forms. Applications will open for submission in August 2022. To be considered for funding, applications must be submitted and authorized by 11:59 p.m. on September 19.

Before submitting an application, MAC recommends you thoroughly read the information for this program below and MAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Who May Apply

Organizations applying for a BFA grant must be:

  • a Mississippi-based non-profit organization with IRS 501c3 non-profit status OR a unit of local government (county or municipal). State agencies or other state entities are not eligible to apply;
  • in good standing with MAC. The organization must not have any outstanding reports or unresolved issues related to past or current grants from the agency;
  • either the owners of the building/land for which they are requesting funds or doing so with demonstrated support from the owner(s). The sale of the property must be finalized by the time the project is scheduled to begin;
  • an art-based organization*, with the majority of their work focused on providing year-round arts programming to the local community. Cultural organizations with a primary mission outside of the arts, such as history or science museums, are not eligible to apply;
  • requesting funding for a facility that has been or will be used for arts programming.

In addition:

  • past BFA grantees are eligible to apply to support a new phase of renovation on a previously funded property. However, the applicant must demonstrate that the new project is distinct from the one that was previously funded and that a separate, distinct set of matching funds has been or will be secured.

* Units of local government applying to BFA must demonstrate that they present year-round arts programming OR have ongoing partnerships with local arts organizations or artists to present arts programming for the general public.

Award Amounts

MAC will offer BFA applicants the option to apply for between $25,000 to $500,000 to support their building proposal. Applicants may request up to 60% of the total cost of their proposed project through BFA. The remaining 40% must be matched by cash income for the project (see next section for more information on cash match requirements). These can come from a variety of sources (such as federal grants, municipal funding, or private contributions), but no state funds can be used to match BFA grants. In addition, no in-kind or property donations can be counted towards the match.

Cash Match Requirements

MAC will offer BFA applicants the option to apply for between $25,000 to $500,000 to support their building proposal. Applicants may request up to 60% of the total cost of their proposed project through BFA. The remaining 40% must be matched by cash income for the project. These can come from a variety of sources (such as federal grants, municipal funding, or private contributions), but no state funds can be used to match BFA grants. In addition, no in-kind or property donations can be counted towards the match.

For larger-scale projects requesting funding through BFA, the amount of the applicant’s required match is determined by the minimum amount associated with the grant award rather than the total project cost. For example, a project that receives a $100,000 grant but has a total project cost of $1 million, the grantee’s required match would be around $67,000 (based on a minimum match of the grant: $67,000 (40%) + $100,000 (60%) = $167,000).

Click here to view more detailed examples of project budgets demonstrating the cash match & grant funding percentages.

Grant Payments

Grant recipients must provide documentation of their 40% match in order to request their first grant payment. The first grant payment is 75% of the grant, with the remaining 25% paid upon completion of the project and submission of the final report.

Eligible Expenses

Expenses which are eligible for funding support include:

  • Architect, engineer or (project related) consultant fees;
  • Site development costs such as surveys and soil tests;
  • Construction costs, including asbestos and lead paint removal;
  • Bid advertisements;
  • Architectural renderings or models;
  • Duplication and distribution of plans and specifications;
  • General repairs to the facility, such as carpeting, painting, tile work, HVAC or plumbing;
  • Purchase of furniture or equipment necessary for the type of arts programming taking place in the facility, such as theatre seating, lighting and sound equipment, and heat/humidity monitors for gallery spaces;
  • Landscaping when associated with major renovations or when required to stem soil erosion resulting from construction or renovation projects;
  • Parking and paving improvements;
  • State Board of Health review of plan fees.

Ineligible Expenses – MAC cannot provide BFA funding for the following projects:

  • General operating expenses (such as staff salaries, utilities, or upkeep of current facilities)
  • Project expenses incurred prior to the award of a BFA grant
  • Purchase of furniture or equipment not specified for arts programming, such as office furniture or computers used for administrative work
  • Fundraising expenses. A BFA grantee can count fundraising costs in its match, but these costs cannot exceed 5% of the total matching funds. For example, a BFA grantee with $300,000 grant would have a required match of $200,000. No more than $10,000 of the matching funds could be associated with fundraising expenses

Letter of Intent

Eligible organizations interesting in apply for a BFA grant must submit a Letter of Intent form to MAC by 11:59 PM on August 5, 2022. This form will be made available through MAC’s e-grant system. Applicants with eligible proposals will be notified and invited to submit a full BFA application (also through MAC’s e-grant system).

Application Requirements

The online BFA application will require that you submit the following in order to be considered for funding:

  • Responses to the Building Fund for the Arts Grant Narrative Questions that directly relate to the Review Criteria;
  • A completed MAC BFA Budget form that explains in greater detail the expenses and income listed on the Project Budget page of the application. (Completion of MAC’s specific budget forms is required. Self-generated budget forms or general bank statements will result in your application being marked as “incomplete.”);
  • A copy of your organization’s current long-range strategic plan;
  • A list of your board of directors indicating ethnic make-up and members with disabilities;
  • Current biographies of your organization’s staff (one half page maximum for each), with special focus on those who will be involved in managing your building project;
  • The professional qualifications for the architect, building contractor, or other primary contractors who will be working on your project (if already determined);
  • A copy of the architectural drawings, renderings, or other existing plans for the project (if they have already been created);
  • A map or satellite image that shows your building in relation to the rest of the community. This is to give the panel a sense of where your building is located and its accessibility to local residents;
  • Quality digital images of the building, including interior and exterior shots. Make sure to include images that detail aspects of the building that need renovation or repair;
  • A list of the arts activities your organization (or your partner organization) produced during the current year and those planned for the upcoming year. This can include performances, classes, workshops, exhibitions, or other programming. Include in the list a brief description for each activity and its frequency (one-time event, weekly, monthly);
  • Due to federal requirements, all organizations who receive funding must provide a SAM.gov Unique Entity ID (UEI). MAC will be unable to award any funding to organizations that fail to provide this information. It is 100% free for an organization to request a UEI, and you need not complete the full SAM.gov registration in order to obtain your ID. Follow the steps outlined in this guide to obtain your organization’s UEI, or click here to view a video which provides a detailed explanation of the SAM.gov Unique Entity ID (UEI). For further assistance in obtaining a SAM.gov UEI, you can reach the help desk by calling 866-606-8220 to speak to a registration specialist;
  • If your project involves a partnership with another organization(s), please provide a letters of intent from the partner. The letter should clearly explain the partner’s role in the project;
  • If your organization is applying to MAC for the first time: a copy of your official IRS 501c3 determination letter. You do not need to send a copy of the letter if your organization has applied for a grant from MAC in the past three years. If you are unsure whether or not your organization has applied recently, please call and check with MAC Staff before submitting an application. Local government agencies are exempt from this requirement;
  • If the project involves a historic building, a description of how the work will be carried out in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (available online here);
  • If your organization is a 501c3 nonprofit, submit a copy of the financial audit of your organization’s most recently completed fiscal year. If a government agency, submit your budget for the most recently completed fiscal year.

Review Criteria

Artistic Quality (15 points)

The applicant describes:

  • their current artistic programming, including their main activities and the types of artists who are involved
  • how they involve community members in the design and planning of their programming
  • how they provide arts programming for their community, if they are not an arts-based organization

Project Plan (20 points)

The applicant provides details on:

  • whether their project is a renovation of a building they are currently are using, a renovation of a building they hope to use after the project, or a new construction project. The applicant provides justification for why their proposed project best fits the need of their organization
  • the accessibility of the building to local residents and what steps the organization will employ to make it more accessible
  • the current state of the building and the planned renovations or repairs, providing as much detail as possible

Project Professionals (20 points)

The applicant provides information on:

  • the architects, building contractors, and other professionals who will be working on their project, including their qualifications and experience on working on similar projects
  • architectural studies or other work that has been completed on the project
  • the process they will use to select architects, contractors, or other professionals

Organizational Capacity (30 points)

The applicant describes:

  • who will manage the building project for their organization, including their qualifications and related work experience
  • their staff structure for managing their current facilities. They will also provide information on who will manage the new or expanded facility, if different from the current plan
  • their plan for managing the building once it is completed or renovated, if the organization does not currently manage a facility
  • the fundraising plan for the project, including a listing of the people who will lead the effort and their qualifications

Impact of the Project (15 points)

The applicant explains:

  • how they will maintain their current level of arts programming while the project work is being completed
  • how the project will improve the quality or frequency of their artistic programming
  • how they will cover the increase in operating expenses due to the creation of new or expanded facilities

Legal Requirements

MAC and its grant recipients are contractually committed to abide by state and federal regulations that bar discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or sex and require accessibility for persons with disabilities.

All grant recipients must assure compliance as required by these federal acts:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bar discrimination of federally assisted projects based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or handicap;
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires paying professional performers, artists, related and support personnel, laborers, and mechanics at or about the minimum compensation level for persons employed in similar activities;
  • The Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988, which prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance in conducting any federally assisted activity; and
  • Executive Order 12549, which requires certification from the grant applicant that neither it nor its principals are presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from participation in any federal program.

Application Timeline

The eligible period for projects supported by BFA funds is November 2022 – June 2024. The agency anticipates issuing BFA grant contracts in November 2022.

  • Aug. 5, 2022 – Letter of Intent deadline (11:59 PM)
  • Sept. 19, 2022 – Full Application Deadline (11:59 PM)
  • Sept. 19 – Oct.19, 2022 – Application Review by Grant Panel and MAC
  • Nov. 1, 2022 – Board Announcement of Grants

For more information on applying for a BFA grant, contact Kristen Brandt (601.359.6075 | kbrandt@arts.ms.gov) or Elaine Maisel (mississippiartscommission@gmail.com).