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ArtsWave Grants for African American Arts – Program Guidelines

ArtsWave believes that diversity in arts and cultural expressions creates a more inclusive and dynamic region. This belief aligns with the Blueprint for Collective Action’s goals of deepening the roots of residents and bridging cultural divides through the arts. To provide more resources and build audiences for diverse cultural expressions, in 2020 ArtsWave announces a new African American Arts grantmaking initiative and a new performance series, Flow, featuring nationally and internationally renowned Black artists. 

Cincinnati has a rich history of contributions by Black artists to the city’s creative community and its thriving neighborhoods. New in 2020, ArtsWave Grants for African American Arts are meant to connect local Black arts and cultural innovators with access to resources and opportunities to grow and thrive. Grants will be funded and determined, in part, by donors in ArtsWave’s Circle of African American Leaders for the Arts.  


ArtsWave Grants for African American Arts will strengthen the capacity for arts presenting, producing, programming and instruction at organizations led by or predominantly serving Black Cincinnatians. The program is one way that ArtsWave is working to increase the sustainability of organizations that focus on the preservation and advancement of Black arts and culture. Eligible organizations have a mission related to the African American experience and a majority (51%+) of annual expenditures dedicated to arts and cultural activities.

Who May Apply

To be eligible for the FY2020 African American Arts Grant Program, an organization must meet all the following requirements:

  • Have a 501(c)3 designation, be non-profit in nature, or have a non-profit fiscal agent (for-profit businesses are ineligible for grant funding);
  • Have a mission related to the Black or African American experience and/or one or more Black artists in leadership roles;
  • Have a majority (51%+) of the organization’s annual expenditures dedicated to arts and cultural activities.
  • Be based in the Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN MSA, which includes the following counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren Counties in Ohio; Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, and Pendleton Counties in Kentucky; and Dearborn, Ohio, and Union Counties in Indiana.
  • Has completed successfully all previous grant requirements if a current ArtsWave grantee.
  • Share ArtsWave’ s commitment to access, equity, and inclusion.

NOTE: Applicants new to ArtsWave must schedule an introductory phone call at least one week prior to the application deadline. Please contact Krista Bondi at 513-632-0103 or Krista.Bondi@ArtsWave.org.


Eligible Requests

The ArtsWave Grants for African American Arts Program provides project funding that aligns with at least one Blueprint Goal (see Appendix A) and fits within one of these two categories: 1) capacity-building or 2) impact expansion. Applicants will be asked to explain how their project will further one of these objectives:

  1. Capacity-Building - Capacity-building projects are meant to strengthen the organization’s ability to serve its community in a sustainable and impactful way with high quality arts and cultural programming and services. Projects can be related to personnel, financial management, fundraising, board development, audience development, marketing and promotion, programming or infrastructure (including small capital improvements or purchases). An example of a capacity-building project: Consulting help for a start-up arts studio in creating and managing its annual budget, plus financial management software with multiple cloud-based licenses to enable the director and board chair to remotely monitor the organization’s finances. A new laptop was also purchased to replace an outdated desktop computer. These investments enabled the organization to more quickly, accurately and transparently manage expenditures and send more timely invoices to its clients – resulting in greater financial stability and positioning the organization for growth.
  2. Impact Expansion - Impact expansion projects are meant to help the organization increase the impact of already established and successful programming or services. Examples of expanded impact may include: 1) serving a new or expanded geography, 2) serving a new or expanded audience or 3) expanding program themes or content. Strategic planning projects are also eligible. Projects can be related to personnel, marketing and promotion, collaborations and partnerships, travel and transportation, or infrastructure (including small capital improvements or purchases). An example of an impact expansion project: Increased resources for teaching artists allows an after-school visual arts program to triple the number of its classes, expanding to three local schools which would otherwise lack arts programming; mileage reimbursement is provided for the artists to travel between locations; a budget increase in arts supplies allows the organization to meet the needs of larger numbers of youth engaged in creative activity.

Eligible expenses for either category can include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Artist or production fees
  • Staff salary support
  • Consultants
  • Training and professional development 
  • Materials and supplies
  • Advertising
  • Digital tools and technology 
  • Cultural Facilities

In most cases, expenses should not have occurred prior to January 1, 2020. 

ArtsWave will not award grant support to organizations that, in their constitution, bylaws, or practices, discriminate against a person or group because of age, race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or religious belief.

Grant Amounts

Grant requests cannot exceed $25,000. Grant awards will likely be made in the $5,000-$10,000 range.

Up to 20% of the grant request can be allocated to general administration and overhead. The total project budget should not be more than 25% of the total annual operating budget.


Application Instructions

All application materials must be submitted via Submittable, ArtsWave’s online grantmaking system. We strongly recommend that you begin your online application well before the due date to familiarize yourself with the online grantmaking system and to address any technical concerns. While completing your application, remember these tips: 

  • Be brief, clear and direct, focusing on what is most important. 
  • Review panelists may have little or no prior knowledge of your organization. Create a stronger application by: 1) not assuming reviewers have extensive knowledge of all artistic disciplines; 2) explaining acronyms; and 3) explaining the characteristics of your community or audience as needed.
  • We recommend that you prepare your responses offline in a word processing program and then copy and paste them into the appropriate sections of the online application.
  • Limit the use of bullets and other formatting in text fields.
  • Add Impact@ArtsWave.org to your safe senders list to ensure that you receive all communications from the online grantmaking system.
  • Use one of the following compatible browsers: Microsoft’s Edge browser, Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla’s Firefox browser, or Apple’s Safari browser

All application materials must be submitted through the online grantmaking system by 5:00 pm EST on May 1, 2020. Late applications will not be accepted. Funding decisions will be made on or after June 19, 2020.

Contact ArtsWave

Additional application questions may be directed Krista Bondi, Grant Programs Manager, at (513) 632-0103 or krista.bondi@artswave.org.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.