Operating Grants are specifically available for arts focused institutions as these organizations are crucial partners with MAC in providing increased access to the arts in Mississippi. Operating grants serve as a way to assist these core organizations maintain their financial stability, build their organizational capacity, improve their artist programs, and broaden their programs throughout the community. Eligible organizations should have the arts as their primary focus and mission. 

Operating Grants can be used by these arts focused organizations to support any of their general operating expenses, including salaries, marketing, rent, insurance, or artistic fees. Because of the wide range of expenses the grant can support, Operating Grant applicants are also required to submit more detailed information than other applicants in order to provide MAC grant review panels with a more detailed picture of the applicant organization’s overall structure and activities.

  • MAC awards Operating Grants in each of the following programs areas:
    • Arts Based Community Development
    • Folk & Traditional Arts
    • Arts Industry

Before applying, review the goals of each program area to determine which one most closely aligns with your organization’s mission and activities.

Eligible organizations are limited to applying for a Project Grant OR an Operating Grant each fiscal year. First-time applicants to the Operating Grant Program are strongly encouraged to contact MAC Program Staff about the viability of this type of grant for their organization before submitting an application.

Application Deadline: March 8

Please note: With the implementation of our new eGRANT system, MAC will no longer accept paper applications. Applications will only be accepted beginning on February 1. To be considered for funding, applications must be submitted and authorized by 11:59 p.m. on March 8.

Before submitting an application, MAC recommends you thoroughly read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Who May Apply

A Mississippi-based arts organization may apply for an Operating Grant if it has been incorporated in the state of Mississippi as a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3 of the IRS code for at least two years and:

  • Has a mission and ongoing activities that are focused on arts development and presents performances, exhibitions, arts education programs, or other arts services to the public as its primary function;
  • Has a governing board empowered to form policies and execute programs;
  • Demonstrates a close working relationship with local government agencies, artists, schools, and community organizations;
  • Has a board-adopted, basic long-range plan that shows how the organization intends to grow artistically, manage for the future, and serve the community;
  • Reflects the demographics of its community in the planning, implementation and evaluation of its programs;
  • Demonstrates ongoing fiscal responsibility by maintaining financial records that meet generally accepted accounting principles;
  • Is not receiving operating funds from another line of the Mississippi state government’s budget; and
  • Is not primarily educational and does not award academic credit.

Local arts agencies applying for an Operating Grant in the Arts Based Community Development program area must provide at least two of the following services:

  • Arts-based community development programs for local residents;
  • Re-granting and services to local artists or arts organizations;
  • Serves as a source of information on local cultural events, activities, and programs;
  • Facility management (such as a gallery or performance center) services;
  • Arts education;
  • Advocacy for the arts;
  • Arts presenting or
  • Arts instruction.

A note to Community Development organizations: MAC traditionally awards Operating Grants to one local arts agency from any given municipality. When two local arts agencies serving the same geographic area apply for Operating Grants in the same year, both of the organizations’ applications should directly address how the work of the two groups complement (and does not replicate) each other. As with any other application in this program, each applicant must demonstrate that they involve the entire community in their planning, governance, programming, and evaluation.

Major divisions of nonprofit organizations that are engaged solely in arts activities and meet the above requirements are also eligible to apply. However, branches or divisions within eligible arts organizations may not apply. An arts division within a larger organization must provide a budget that is clearly delineated within the overall financial statement of the organization.

Statewide Arts Service Organizations

Statewide arts service organizations that have missions compatible with one of MAC’s four program areas may apply for up to $15,000 through the Operating Grant program. The organization may be staffed or volunteer. MAC defines a statewide arts service organization as a nonprofit group that:

  • Advocates to policy makers and citizens the benefits of a specific arts discipline or application of the arts, such as dance, theater, arts-based community projects, or arts in education;
  • Serves a defined segment of the arts community;
  • Provides services or programs to the general public, not just its members;
  • Creates technical assistance or networking opportunities for professionals within a specific discipline; and
  • Has a governing board that represents the state’s geographic and cultural diversity.

Two-Year Operating Grants

MAC allows veteran Operating grantees to apply for two-year Operating Grants. This is open to Organizations who score high during their two year panel and have successfully previously completed a one-year MAC Operating Grant. Grant review panels must make a recommendation for two-year funding and this recommendation must also be approved by MAC’s Commissioners. Please note: Those who are awarded two-year funding are still required to submit final reports both years, as well as a “Request for Second Year Funding” form at the start of the second year’s grant.

Two-year Operating Grant funds are given on a year-to-year basis. The grantee is not guaranteed to receive the same amount of funding both years of the grant. All grant amounts are subject to change based on MAC’s annual budget.

Award Amounts

Operating Grants require a dollar-for-dollar cash match (whatever your organization is requesting must be matched with existing funds or anticipated income). The amount an organization is eligible to apply for is based on its previous year’s total income:

  • If you are a volunteer-run organization, you may apply for 25% of your last completed fiscal year’s income, not to exceed $7,500.
  • If you are a staffed organization* with an annual budget of at least $30,000, you may apply for 25% of the last completed fiscal year’s income, not to exceed $20,000.
  • If you are a staffed organization* with an annual budget of more than $250,000, you may apply for up to 10% of the actual cash revenue for operating expenses of the last completed fiscal year, not to exceed $30,000. (Revenues do not include loans, endowment funds, capital improvement funds, or any other restricted-use funds that are not part of general operating revenues.)

*To apply as a staffed agency, your organization must have at least one full-time, year-round paid professional staff person working for your organization at the time that the application is submitted. MAC considers “full-time” status as a minimum of 35 hours of work per week. The agency expects that the staff person(s) are paid at the prevailing professional wage for their area.

Long-Range Strategic Plan

An organization’s ability to develop an effective long-range plan and utilize it to track its performance over time is crucial to achieving long-term success. Therefore, a long-range plan (that covers three to five years) is a required component of MAC’s Operating Grant application.

MAC’s grant review panelists evaluate each applicant organization’s long-range plan in order to get a picture of where it sees itself going in the coming years. Panelists also review the narrative attachment, which describes the organization’s objectives for the coming grant period and outlines the strategies the applicant will use to move it toward those goals.

For guidance on developing a long-range plan for your organization, see Key Components of a Long-Range Strategic Plan.

Review Criteria

Operating Grant applications are reviewed using the following criteria:

1. Goals and Outcomes (20 points)

  • The organization’s mission and goals are in alignment with their strategic plan
  • The organization’s goals are aligned with the goals of the MAC grant program under which they are applying
  • They have articulated outcomes needed to meet their goals
  • Activities are in place to meet expected outcomes

2. Quality of Project Activities and Artistic Excellence (30 points)

  • A description of activities for the next grant period (7/1 of the current year– 6/30 of the following year) is provided
  • Information on the artists, arts professionals and their qualifications are included
  • The time and location of the activities are provide

3. Public Participation and Access (30 points)

  • Those planning and participating in the organization’s activities are described
  • The planners and participants reflect the community demographic or the organization explains how they are working towards that goal
  • Board members reflects the community and contribute (in some way) to the organization
  • The organization works to make its programs inclusive

4. Ability to Achieve Goals and Evaluate Success (20 points)

  • The staff or project leaders are described, including their qualifications
  • The organization receives support from the community
  • Partnerships with other organizations are adequately described
  • Proper financial controls are in place
  • Information on promotions and evaluation processes are included
  • For more information on preparing your evaluation, see Evaluating Projects and Programs.

Click here to see the information panelists will use when evaluating and scoring your application.

Cash Match Requirement

Grant awards to organizations, unless otherwise specified in the program guidelines, must be matched dollar-for-dollar. For example, if an organization requests $1,000 from MAC, they must have at least $1,000 in cash income from another source (other than state funds) towards the expenses of that same project. Sources of matching funds may include revenue from the project activities, contributions from foundations or corporations, government support from federal or local sources, or cash from the organization’s own accounts.

Grantees cannot match MAC funding with other state funds.

In-kind contributions cannot be counted as part of a cash match. In-kind contributions are the dollar value of materials and services that are provided to a project at no cash cost from sources other than the applicant, i.e., volunteer hours or donated space. However, it is important to document and include information on in-kind contributions as part of the application budget. In-kind donations help to demonstrate a community’s support of a project.

Program Areas

MAC awards Operating Grants in three of its program areas. Following are brief descriptions of each program. If you are unsure about which program you should apply under, contact MAC before submitting an application.

Arts Based Community Development

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Whether it is after-school programming targeting at-risk youth, public art refurbishing a blighted downtown area, or a music festival bringing together a diverse audience from the community, successful Arts Based Community Development programming utilizes community-driven planning and the power of the arts to create stronger communities.

Arts Industry

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Arts Industry organizations seek to enrich the lives of their audience through entertainment and through learning about themselves and others by expanding the role the arts plays in the broader social arenas of Mississippi communities. They involve the general public with their services and programs. They reach diverse communities to identify shared values, foster excellence in the arts and provide inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens by providing inclusive and diverse artistic experiences.

Folk & Traditional Arts

Program Goal: To improve the social, economic and cultural conditions of Mississippi communities through meaningful, quality arts programming.

Folk & Traditional Arts works to increase the awareness of and foster the continuation of the state’s folk and traditional art forms.

How To Apply

Apply online using MAC’s eGRANT system. Faxed, mailed, or emailed applications are not accepted. Please review the guides and video tutorials available on MAC’s Frequently Asked Questions page, then contact MAC staff if you have any questions.

Please be prepared to submit the following information through the eGRANT system:

  • Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number. Go to Dun & Bradstreet to apply for a number or check to see if your organization has a number. Go here for more information on DUNS numbers.)
  • Narrative (three-page maximum) in which you provide a brief overview of your organization (the “Organizational Picture”), a review of your strategic plan process, and an explanation of how your organization meets the program’s review criteria
  • Budget Itemization that explains in greater detail the income and expenses listed in the budget section of the application. Please also provide an explanation for any budgetary changes of more than 20% over the previous year. See sample budget itemization. Note: Pay careful attention to your budget itemization since it will answer many questions that the narrative description is not likely to answer and it speaks for the applicant’s accountability.
  • Your organization’s long-range strategic plan. If your organization’s strategic plan has ended and the process has not begun for the new plan, please include the current plan, along with a proposal for planning the next long-range strategic plan process.
  • A list of the activities your 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).
  • A list of your board of directors indicating ethnic make-up and members with disabilities
  • Current biographies (one half page maximum for each) of key artistic and administrative personnel, both paid and volunteer. Do not substitute bios with résumés.
  • Letters from other organizations that detail their collaboration with you on key programs (if applicable).
  • The review or audit of your organization’s most recently completed fiscal year. Refer to the Audit Requirements section below to determine what type of document you are required to submit.
  • Your organization’s re-granting guidelines, if applicable. Please include with the guidelines a list of funded projects from the past two years identifying recipient names, project titles and award amounts.
  • If your organization is applying to MAC for the first time: a copy of your official IRS 501(c)3 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 Program Staff before submitting an application.

Applications should be complete, including all required information and materials. Incomplete applications, defined as applications missing one or more of the above-listed documents, will not be considered for funding.

Audit Requirements

Applicants who received less than $25,000 from MAC in the previous fiscal year must submit basic financial statements, including a standard income statement and balance sheet, prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles and signed by the fiscal agent.

Applicants who received $25,000 or more from the Commission during the previous fiscal year are required to submit a review of financial statements, prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles. (Previously a certified audit of financial statements was required).

Applicants who receive $500,000 or more in combined federal funds in one fiscal year must submit an audit that meets the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget as described in OMB Circular A-133, available from the OMB website.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary Materials Format

The eGRANT system allows for the submission of supplementary materials relating to your proposed project activities that will help panelists better understand your work. These may include:

  • A copy of sample programs, brochures, educational materials, or other promotional materials from your organization
  • News clippings that relate to recent activities
  • No more than five letters of support.

Supplementary Materials File Types

Ineligible File Types: Items uploaded from the following file types will be disregarded in adjudicating applications and may result rejection of an application for incompletion:

  • Pages (.pages)
  • Numbers (.numbers)
  • Keynote (.key)

Please note, the programs above offer the ability to export to, or save as a PDF. 

Video & Audio

  • If you share media from your website, link directly to the video/audio rather than the home page.
  • MAC recommends applicants upload using the following file types: MP3, MOV, MP4, WMV, WMA.
  • MAC recommends applicants upload links to video or audio files. Applicants can link to websites such as YouTubeVimeoSoundcloudBandcamp, etc.

Images & Documents

  • MAC recommends applicants upload using the following file types: Word (.doc or .dox), Excel (.xls, .xlr, or .xlsx), PDF (.pdf), or JPEG (.jpeg).
  • You may upload links contained in a Word Document or PDF.

Application Timeline

March 8 – Operating Grant application deadline

April – Review of applications by the grant panel (the specific panel date will be available by late March. Applicants are allowed to attend panels.)

June – MAC Board meets and makes final funding decisions on all applications

July – Applicants are notified whether their application was funded or not. No information on the grants (including whether or not an applicant will be receiving an award or the amount of the award) will be available from MAC prior to this date.

Grant Payments

Operating Grants and Two-Year Operating Grants are paid in two equal installments:

  • 50% of the grant award following receipt and approval of a properly signed contract
  • 50% of the grant award following receipt and approval of the final report.

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.


Making the arts accessible to all people is a major priority of MAC. One of the conditions grantees accept is that their programs are accessible to people with disabilities. Every organization receiving funding must provide reasonable accommodations when people with disabilities request services. Accessibility involves both the facility and the activity or product of the program. Non-capital expenses to serve people with disabilities may be included in MAC grant requests.

Addressing accessibility as early as possible ensures that people with disabilities will be able to participate in programs. Organizations should conduct an evaluation of all policies, practices and programs to ensure equal access. People with disabilities and organizations representing them should participate in this evaluation process as advisors. The National Endowment for the Arts’ Office for Accessibility provides information about accessibility as it relates to the arts.

For more information on how to improve your organization’s accessibility, visit MAC’s ADA Checklist online or contact MAC’s Accessibility Coordinator at 601.359.6030.

For more information on applying for an Operating Grant, contact the MAC Program Director who oversees the area most closely tied to your organization’s main goals:

Arts-Based Community Development, Leslie Barker, 601.359.6529, lbarker@arts.ms.gov

Arts Education, Charlotte Smelser, 601.359.6037, csmelser@arts.ms.gov

Arts Industry, Kristen Brandt, 601.359.6075, kbrandt@arts.ms.gov

Folk & Traditional Arts, Maria Zeringue, 601.359.6034, mzeringue@arts.ms.gov