CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2022) — UPDATE: Having awarded nearly $400,000 from the Opportunity Fund in the current fiscal year, the advisory board voted on Oct. 26 to pause its acceptance of any new grant requests while it evaluates the fund’s progress to date and fine-tunes the grant request process.
Requests made by applicants who have already submitted letters of intent and who have been invited to submit a full proposal may be considered in November for grants from the remaining funding. Those full proposals must be received by Nov. 3 to be considered for an award.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 9, 2022) — The City of Charlotte and the
Arts and Culture Advisory Board are accepting grant requests from Charlotte-Mecklenburg artists and arts and culture groups to support near-term projects and initiatives. Applicants can request up to $50,000.
Requests will be accepted on a rolling basis, until roughly $400,000 has been allocated, or until the advisory board evaluates the program's progress in December — whichever comes first.
Opportunity Fund Eligibility
Nonprofits, and artists and creative groups with a nonprofit fiscal agent or sponsor, that are located in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County can request dollars through the Opportunity Fund, which is a portion of the larger
The Opportunity Fund will support eligible projects that fall outside existing grant cycles or structures. Grants are restricted to projects, programs and initiatives that:
Take place primarily in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County or benefit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
Begin by June 30, 2023, and conclude by June 30, 2024.
Do not require multiyear or unrestricted funding from the Infusion Fund.
Have not received prior support through the Opportunity Fund.
organization that receives annual operating funds from the Infusion Fund (and previously from the Arts & Science Council) is only eligible for an Opportunity Fund grant if its project is done in collaboration with local artists or creative nonprofits or groups.
Examples of eligible projects and funding needs include:
Artistic and cultural experiences.
Programming and collaborations.
Organizational and technical support.
Facility and infrastructure costs.
Advertising and marketing.
Research and reporting.
Personnel and training costs.
In the previous fiscal year 2022, the city used the Opportunity Fund to support the
"I Am Queen Charlotte" project and
one Charlotte organization's participation in the Southern Cultural Treasures program by South Arts.
The Grant Request and Evaluation Process
An applicant must submit a brief letter of intent. Letters of intent should summarize:
How the project or initiative meets the city's
guiding principles for arts and culture planning and Infusion Fund investments — principles such as more collaboration, equity and access, and financial sustainability and growth.
The project's timeliness.
Why the project falls outside established or existing grant structures, or why it requires the type of support offered through the Opportunity Fund in particular.
Challenges and conditions the grant funding may help address.
How the project is open to the public and/or focuses on expanding the public's access to arts and culture.
Staff, led by Priya Sircar, the city's arts and culture officer, will review letters of intent on a rolling basis. Applicants that meet the eligibility requirements and whose projects align with the guidelines of the Opportunity Fund will be invited to submit a full proposal with a project budget using a provided form. Staff will submit these proposals to a small group of advisory board members for review. That group will recommend vetted proposals to the full Arts and Culture Advisory Board. The full board will consider the recommendations and vote to award any grants.
Among the factors board members will consider when evaluating requests and making allocations are:
Whether a grant request is appropriate to the project's overall budget.
How the project might contribute to the
ongoing cultural planning process that will determine how resources and funding can sustain and grow the local creative sector.
The project's feasibility.
For collaboration projects, whether collaborators — especially artists and small organizations — are compensated fairly by the lead organization or lead artist.
Grantees are not guaranteed the full amount of funding they request. Foundation For The Carolinas will administer the grants, as it does for the rest of the Infusion Fund.
At the conclusion of the project or at the end of the one-year grant period, whichever comes first, grantees will be required to submit a brief report to city staff. The report should address how the funding made the project possible, key learnings from the project and any conditions that affected it, and any future plans for the project.
About the Infusion Fund and the Charlotte Arts and Culture Plan
In 2021, the City of Charlotte increased its annual
investment in arts and culture to $6 million annually for three years, and
Foundation For The Carolinas led a fundraising campaign to match the city's funds. The goal was to stabilize the local creative sector, which was devastated by the pandemic on top of recent declines in philanthropic giving. Aiming to raise $18 million for this
Infusion Fund, the foundation ultimately raised $23 million from private-sector donors.
While the Infusion Fund partners focus on stabilizing the sector in the short term, the city is also developing the
Charlotte Arts and Culture Plan to guide and sustain the long-term future of arts and culture in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. Feedback is currently being collected from all parts of the community to create a cultural plan that serves everyone: artists, patrons, funders, residents and many others.
"In conversations with artists and organizations in the community, we're hearing a real need for flexible and responsive funding opportunities that are easily accessible to individuals and groups of all sizes," Sircar said. "With the Opportunity Fund, we're hoping to help bridge that gap in the short term, while we prepare for long-term solutions through the Charlotte Arts and Culture Plan currently being developed."
charlottenc.gov/cultural-plan to learn more, take a survey, host your own arts conversations, and attend an outreach event.