Lowell Cultural Council Guidelines

2016 Grant Amount: $64,700

Lowell Cultural Council Priorities

Priorities for 2017 grants

Lowell Cultural Council grants are open to individual artists, arts organizations, community organizations and municipal agencies. All projects funded by the Lowell Cultural Council must be based in Lowell and must benefit the citizens of Lowell through exhibits, performances, readings, demonstrations, or by other means. The Lowell Cultural Council prefers to fund local applicants who live or work in the city. As a general rule, the Lowell Cultural Council does not provide funding for general operating support.

Two priorities were suggested at the community input meeting: Professional development for creatives and development of creative spaces.

The Lowell Cultural Council grant process is governed by requirements and regulations established by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, failure to comply may jeopardize a grant application. Additional information about the Massachusetts Cultural Council and its programs may be found at www.massculturalcouncil.org.

Lowell Cultural Council Guidelines for 2017

Because the application process is quite competitive it is imperative that applicants familiarize themselves with Council guidelines. Applicants must insure that they follow the guidelines in the application process and if the application is successful, that guidelines for publicity and reimbursement are followed.

Applications will be accepted for projects taking place between January 1 and December 31, 2017.

For FY17 the Lowell Cultural Council will award $64,700 in grants.

Deadline for receipt of online applications is 11:59pm October 17, 2016. Early submission is strongly recommended.

Lowell Cultural Council restrictions:

· The Lowell Cultural Council will accept no more than one application per lead individual or lead organization. For further clarification please attend one of the grant workshops.

· Grant requests are capped at $3000. Available funding and high demand for support may result in an award smaller than funds requested. Indicate on the application how this may affect your project.

· Repeat Funding: In order to encourage new applicants and to ensure the widest distribution of funds, projects may not receive funding for more than two consecutive years. Applicants who received funding for two consecutive years must wait one year for applying again for the same project. However, applicants may receive funding for more than two consecutive years for projects which are conceptually different in nature.

· Incomplete Requirements: Grant recipients who fail to complete grant requirements are ineligible to apply for a new grant for two years.

On September 1st MCC will be launching the new online application. Guidelines for completing the application are available at mass-culture.org/Lowell.

The Lowell Cultural Council will be offering two grant writing workshops, these workshops will review the new online application and allow for review of proposed projects. Workshops will be held at 6:30pm on Tuesday September 13 and Thursday September 15, 2016 at the Onyx Room at Western Avenue Studios, 122 Western Ave. Attendance at one of these workshops is highly encouraged.

The Lowell Cultural Council requires that the following documentation must accompany the application:

1. Resumes of all individuals engaged in leadership roles in the project.

2. Written letters of support from partner organizations/individuals.

3. Written letter from venues confirming participation in the project.

4. Public art projects must have written permission from owners of property. If Public Art projects are to take place in Historic Districts and/or Lowell National Historical Park letters of support from the Historic Board/Lowell National Historical Park must accompany the application.

5. If the Public Art project is a permanent installation a maintenance plan must accompany the application. If the Public Art project is a temporary installation an installation and removal plan must accompany the application.

Please note that the online application allows a maximum of three pages of PDF attachments for supplemental materials. It will be necessary for additional pages of supplemental materials be made available to the Council via link to a dropbox file, this link should be embedded in the supplemental materials (for instructions go to https://www.dropbox.com/help/167 and follow the instructions for creating a shared link)

Grant Evaluation

There are five major areas considered by council members in evaluating each grant application: 1) quality of project, 2) community benefit, 3) budget and funding, 4) planning, and 5) leadership.

The criteria used to evaluate these areas include:

1. Quality of Project – Is it creative, unique? Does it have a specific focus and is that focus well defined? Is it engaging? Is it collaborative? Will the project enhance the cultural life of the city? Where will the project take place? Are dates and times included?

2. Community Benefit – How well does the project serve the residents of Lowell? What is the audience to be served? Does the project reflect priorities developed from the community input meeting? Is the target audience an underserved population?

3. Budget and Funding Support – Does the budget balance? Does the budget follow guidelines? Is the budget appropriate and clear? Are there other sources of funding or is LCC the sole source of funding? Is the project budget specific? Has this project been funded previously by LCC? Should this project be part of the city budget? If the project is only partially funded can it be modified and completed successfully?

4. Planning – Are there well defined goals / targets? Is this a single event or an on-going project? When and where will the project take place? If an on-going project is there a culminating event, activity or product that can act as a benchmark for evaluation? Is it clear that project planning has already taken place? Is the public program portion of this project accessible to individuals with disabilities? Is there a letter of support from the venue? What are plans for promotion and outreach?

5. Leadership – Does the leadership / staff have experience? Do personnel qualifications match the project needs? Who is involved in the planning process for the project? (Are specific individuals/organizations and their contributions listed?) Is there evidence of past success in executing a similar project?

Timeline for Lowell Cultural Council Grant Cycle

MCC online application goes live September 1st. Lowell Cultural Council will host workshops to help applicants refine their proposals and go through the application process on September 13 & 15.

Online application due no later than October 17th (normally the deadline is October 15th except when the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday.)

MCC collates all applications and forwards them to the LCC by November 1st.

As soon as the applications are received by the Lowell Cultural Council you will receive an email notifying you that we have received your application and will schedule you for an interview to respond to any questions the Council might have about your application. Interviews are scheduled for the 9th and 10th of November. Please respond to the email indicating if you will or will not be attending the interview session. This will allow us to make adjustments to the schedule if necessary. We will try and accommodate you if you are unable to attend on your scheduled day if you email your request for a change as soon as possible.

Lowell Cultural Council – Applicant Interviews


The applicant interview is an important element of the grant process. While the interview is not mandatory, participation often assists council members in clarifying various elements of the project application. It is strongly recommended that you attend the interview. The interview process is NOT an opportunity for applicants to give a presentation of their project. It IS an opportunity to answer questions that clarify your application.


When you arrive at the interview location, council members will be seated in a panel formation near the front of the room with applicants and other observers sitting in the audience. When it is your turn, you will be called to come forward for your interview. We understand that this process and its formal setup may be a bit stressful for some applicants and we try our best to ease nerves and fears. This should be an open and relaxed experience. Each applicant has on average 5 minutes for the interview. However, as explained, this time limit is only an average, not a rule. We try very hard to keep the process moving, while giving each applicant a fair opportunity.


Council members come to the interview process having read all applications and often flag various areas in each application for clarification during the interview process. Council members are not experts in every field and the questions allow members to fill in their knowledge gaps. While there is no standard set of questions, all questions are based on the application. Questions tend to fall into one of the following categories:

Asking for information that was missing in the application.

Clarification about the project description

Details about the planning process

Explanation of community benefit

Strategies for marketing and promotion

Qualifications of project leaders

Clarification of budget details


When the interview is completed, Council members will thank you for your time. You may leave or return to your seat to observe others.


The number and types of questions you are asked has no direct relationship to the success of your application. If you are asked no questions, it does not necessarily mean you will be funded. For instance, obscure or new art forms often garner lots of questions since it is unlikely many of the Council members have experience with them. Because we can’t predict what questions will be asked during an interview, some interviews may exceed the allotted time, some may be shorter.

The interview process is NOT your chance to change your application. The interview process is NOT an opportunity to make a presentation. It is your chance to clarify or explain uncertainties in your application. The Council attempts to maintain a relaxed environment within this formal process. We encourage applicants to approach the interview with this mindset. The intention of the interview is to help the Council make informed decisions.

The Voting Meeting

Once the Council members have had an opportunity to review all applications in light of the interview outcomes they will score each application and discuss rankings and allocate funds. This meeting will occur November 15th.

Denials and Approvals

Once decisions are made the Council will notify those applicants whose grants did not receive funding. These individuals will have 15 days from the date of notification to request reconsideration. Please note, reconsideration can be requested if, and only if, it is believed that the Council did not follow published state and local guidelines in the grant making process.

Once the reconsideration period has passed the Council will send out approval letters for successful applicants.