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Winter 2002

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Questions and Answers to Help You With Your Grant Application

Over the past year, while working on a long range planning process for the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, the Arts Section staff has fielded a number of questions about how we work. Here are some basic questions, and some relating to experiences from the last round of grant funding. We hope they are helpful.

Who is eligible for West Virginia Commission on the Arts (WVCA) funding?
Individual artists living in the state of West Virginia and non-profit, 501c3 organizations incorporated in the state for at least one year.

Where do I start if I have an idea for a project that I hope to get funded?
Talk to one of the arts staff. Visit our website ( and look at the Arts Commission. Look at the chart of programs to see where you fit. Read the guidelines!

What is a cash match?
The WVCA supports arts projects in communities. The communities must show their support for the projects as well. No project is awarded more than 50% of an eligible cost, which means that you must be able to raise the other 50% through earned income (ticket sales, etc.) or donations from individuals, corporations, foundations or local government. All dollars awarded by the WVCA must be matched with cash. No in-kind matches are accepted.

How do I know which form to use? How do I fill it out?
Talk to one of the arts staff. We are here to answer your questions. Once you get the correct application form make sure you follow the instructions that accompany it. Read them and read them again.

How do I know if my application is complete?
Use the checklist included in the General Grant Program Application Instructions. It not only is a tool for your convenience; it outlines required information if your grant is to be reviewed. Then, at least two weeks before the deadline, send in a draft for review. Our staff will provide written comments to help you improve your application and make note of items you should provide.

Do I have to include the checklist?
The application for the General Grant Programs does not require it, but many applicants use it as a safety net to show that each item has been checked as the final application is assembled for mailing. The Cultural Facilities and Capitol Projects grant requires the inclusion of the checklist.

Will someone contact me if I forget something?
No! After the deadline, no one will contact you to correct a problem with your application. The time to nurture a project is before the deadline.

How far ahead should I apply?
For Mini Grants and Technical Assistance requests your application must be received six weeks before the project date. For Professional Development for Individual Artists grants, Arts in Education and all General Grant categories, the funding period is the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30. For example, if you apply at the February 1 or March 1 deadlines in 2002, your project must occur between the July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003. When in doubt, ask the arts staff.

Who reviews my grant application?
The Arts staff looks at your application first and prepares it for panel review. Panels are made up of 1) members of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, 2) peer reviewers who are members of the arts community with particular areas of expertise and 3) experts from other state arts councils and arts organizations. The West Virginia Commission on the Arts makes all final decisions.

How is my application evaluated?
It is evaluated using the following criteria, available in the grants and services handbook and online at the WVCA website.
• Degree to which the project fulfills the WVCA mission and goals
• Artistic integrity and quality
• Artistic merit
• Artistic vision/mission of the organization
• Ability of project to contribute to artistic growth
• Management
• Complete and accurate application
• Adequate planning and management skills to assure success
• Balanced and clear budget
• Commitment of local funds
• Marketing plan with well defined target audiences
• Effective means of evaluation
• Community involvement/access
• Potential for impact on community or participants
• Evidence of efforts to identify, include and benefit rural, under-served, culturally diverse, student, senior citizen and disabled audiences.
• Evidence of cooperative planning/partnering with other local organizations or individuals
• Accessibility of project to people with disabilities
• Need/equitable distribution of WVCA Funds

I applied to the commission in the past. Have things changed?
Yes! Staff, commission members, programs, forms, guidelines and the process have all changed. As part of its ongoing planning process, the commission listens to its constituents and makes changes in programs that are not providing maximum benefits to West Virginia citizens. So new opportunities may exist that you don’t know about. The process has become more competitive, so applications are closely reviewed for thoroughness and completeness. More documentation may be required for some programs. You can now download application forms from our website. Talk to our staff and read the guidelines to find changes.

What constitutes a contract and why is it important?
A contract states the specifics of an agreement between two parties. It clearly relates what each party expects of the other. Basic elements of a contract include:
• Names and addresses of parties entering the agreement
• Nature of the agreement (description of the service to be provided)
• Date, time and location
• Fee
• Signatures of parties entering the agreement
• These components must be present. Contracts are required for any artist or service for which you apply to the WVCA for funding. No contract, no funding!

Why do I have to write a narrative for my application?
Applications are carefully considered by all panelists. To understand your organization, your community and your project, the panel needs a complete picture of your project. Don’t assume that panel members know who you are. New staff and new panelists may have no clue to the history or good work you have done. Tell them!

I want to present a college choir as part of my series. Are they eligible for funding?
A college choir is considered an avocational group. Even though the quality of their performance may be excellent, they are not yet considered professionals because they are students. They may, however, be considered for funding for travel expenses. It is important that their contract states that the fee is for travel expenses only.

Are the expectations for quality accessible programs the same for arts organizations and schools?
Yes. All programs and facilities should be accessible to all citizens. Contact Martha Collins, Arts in Education/504 ADA coordinator, for specific requirements.

I notice that the amount of money available to the commission for granting to arts projects has not grown in several years. What does that mean to me as an applicant?
The competition is fierce. The pool of money for project grants has stayed the same for many years, and the number and costs of arts projects keep rising. In response, the WVCA has developed strategies to fairly distribute dollars. These include:
• No 100% grants awards. Even though the grants and services book lists some costs as eligible for up to 100% funding, the WVCA has chosen to fund at no higher than 50% of an eligible cost.
• Colleges and universities have seen their programs reduced from 33% of eligible costs to 25%.
• Organizations whose budgets have grown each year are now seeing flat funding levels for their projects. The WVCA cannot at this time absorb the 15–20% growth rate when the pool of funds remains the same. When programming, do not expect increases over last year’s award.
• No contracts (complete with signatures), no funding.
The WVCA continually examines the process of grant review. The strategies are not new policy, but have been used to stretch available dollars to more quality projects.

What is a postmark deadline?
The application package must have a USPS postmark of the deadline date or before to be considered. There are no exceptions to this rule! If that date falls on a holiday or weekend, check with staff for instructions.

Are there ways to let commission members know about my needs?
Yes! Once a year, in November, the WVCA holds a public policy meeting. Interested citizens may address the commission with their concerns at that time or provide letters to be included as part of the meeting. Over the upcoming year, the public will be invited to participate in a planning process to evaluate community and individual artist needs. Meetings will take place in communities all over the state. We want and need your participation.