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Since 1977, the N. C. Arts Council’s Grassroots Arts Program has provided North Carolina citizens access to quality arts experiences. The program distributes funds for the arts in all 100 counties of the state primarily through partnerships with local arts councils. The Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC) serves as the N. C. Arts Council’s partner in awarding subgrants to local organizations for arts programs in Orange County, as well as additional grant funds approved by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.


  • All organizations must have been in operation for at least one year, and must be either a nonprofit organization or have a nonprofit sponsor to receive funds on their behalf.
  • All organizations must physically reside in Orange County.
  • Organizations that receive general support funds through the N.C. Arts Council or the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources are not eligible for Grassroots funds.
  • Individuals are not eligible to apply for Grassroots Arts funds.
  • Applications and support materials must be submitted electronically by the due date.


  • Monday, May 15, 2023: Application Period opens
  • Friday, June 15, 2023: Applications due by 11:59PM
  • August, 2023: Applicants will be notified
  • Fall, 2023: Check presentation at Board of County Commissioners meeting
  • All projects must take place between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024 (this means you can apply for a project that may have already happened before you are notified).

Grassroots Arts Program funds may be used for expenditures to conduct quality arts programs or operate an arts organization. Typical uses of Grassroots money include:

  • Program expenses such as professional artists’ fees and travel, space rental, advertising, marketing and publicity, website and electronic media, scripts, costumes, sets, props, music and theater equipment rental. Program-related requests have a suggested request range of $1,000 - $3,000.
  • Operating expenses for qualified arts and cultural organizations not already receiving operating support from the N.C. Arts Council or N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. These can include salaries, telephone, office supplies, printing, postage, rent, utilities, insurance and equipment rental. Organizations must have an arts-based mission in order to request operating funds. Operations-related requests have a suggested request range of $1,000 - $8,000.

Funding Policies

  • Tribal organizations that receive grassroots funds must represent state or federally recognized tribes (individual artists may apply to our Artist Project Grant Program)
  • Colleges, universities and libraries may receive grants for arts programs that are community based or generate regional arts involvement. Grants may not support their internal programs, administration or operation expenses (library books, band boosters, equipment purchases).
  • Grassroots funds may not be awarded to individuals.
  • Grassroots funds may not be used for art supplies.
  • Grassroots funds may be used for student transportation to regional arts exhibits and programs on a limited basis.
  • Grants may not be awarded for prizes, competitions, scholarships, tuition or financial awards.
  • Religious organizations or churches may not receive Grassroots funds unless the programs are presented outside regular church services, engage the larger community and do not contain religious content.
  • Grassroots funds may not be used for activities associated with a school’s internal arts programs, such as in-school student performances, the purchase of art supplies, or student arts competitions and publications.
  • Municipalities (city/county government) and community organizations may receive grants for arts programs that use qualified artists to conduct programs that involve the greater community. Grants may not support internal programs, administration or operating expenses.
  • Organizations with an annual operating budget of more than $2M may not request operations support, only programmatic support.
  • Grassroots Arts Program money MAY be used for capital expenditures (FY24 ONLY)
  • Grassroots Arts Program money MAY be used to purchase equipment (FY24 ONLY)

Grassroots Arts Program money may not be used for the following kinds of expenditures:

  • Art, music, and dance therapists
  • Artifacts
  • Purchase artwork
  • Contingency funds
  • Deficit reduction
  • Fundraising events
  • Food or beverages for hospitality or entertainment functions
  • School band activities or equipment
  • School choral activities
  • Lobbying expenses
  • Oral history and history projects
  • Tuition for academic study
  • Interest on loans, fines or litigation costs

Matching Requirement

  • All grantees are required to match their grant amounts dollar for dollar. The funds must come from other public or private sources. In-kind donations of goods or services may be used as matching funds. Other N.C. Arts Council funds or state funds (i.e. public university dollars) cannot be used as a match.

Racial and Cultural Diversity Requirement 

  • The N.C. Arts Council works to provide a representative portion of grant funds for arts programming that reflects the racial and cultural diversity of the state. The OCAC is required to spend 35% of its annual county allotment for programming that reflects African American, Asian American, Latinx, and Native American cultures, based on the percentage of each population in Orange County.

Applications are reviewed by panels of experts in the visual, performing, and literary arts, comprised of members of the OCAC Advisory Board and members of the artist community. Panelists discuss and score the grant using an established rating system. The highest scoring applications are funded and the dollar amount granted to each applicant is determined by the OCAC Advisory Board. The panel evaluates applications based on the NCAC Priorities for Funding (below) and the following criteria:

  • Artistic quality of proposed project or programs
  • Community impact of project or programs
  • Multicultural aspect of the program
  • Educational impact of the project
  • Ability to plan and implement project
  • Stability and fiscal responsibility of the organization
  • Integration into curriculum and/or enrichment (schools only)
  • Need (schools only, based on percentage Free and Reduced Lunch)

North Carolina Arts Council Priorities for Funding

  • The first priority of the Grassroots Arts subgrant program is to provide operating or program support to qualified arts organizations including theaters, symphonies, galleries, art guilds, choral societies, dance companies, folk arts societies, writers groups and arts festivals, among others. Grassroots funds are not generally awarded to arts organizations that receive funding through the N.C. Arts Council’s General Support Program or the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
  • The second priority of the Grassroots Arts subgrant program is to support arts learning and arts in education programs conducted by qualified artists. These can be artist residencies in schools, after-school summer camps or adult arts learning classes.
  • The third priority of Grassroots Arts subgrants is to support community organizations that provide quality art experiences for the greater community. These programs must be conducted by qualified artists.


  • NCAC/OCAC Recognition Grantees must acknowledge the N. C. Arts Council and Orange County Arts Commission’s support of their event or projects by including their logos and funding credit lines in all print and promotional materials related to the grant. The OCAC’s website offers information and downloadable logos at www.artsorange.org. Proper acknowledgment will be considered during future funding requests.
  • Reporting Requirements Each grantee is required to submit a final report providing a detailed description of the funded project, participation statistics and demographics, sample marketing and program materials using the N. C. Arts Council credit line and logo, and copies of their legislative letters. The Report Forms will be sent to you by OCAC director Katie Murray and will be due by Monday, July 10, 2023. Organizations who have not submitted reports for prior grants are not eligible to apply for future requests.
  • Legislative Letters Grantees are asked to write state representatives to thank them for appropriating Grassroots funds. The letter should provide information about how Grassroots funds were used to support your program or project, and the community impact of the event. A copy of all letters to legislators must be included in the subgrantee’s final report.


Be sure to check out our F.A.Q's here.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Katie Murray at 919-245-2335 or kmurray@orangecountync.gov.

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