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Grants and Services of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts

West Virginia Division of Culture and History


Grant Writing Tips

Always contact the Arts staff before submitting a grant application.
If you have questions about the deadline or eligibility of your proposal, contact Arts Staff. Staff will discuss your ideas with you and direct you to the appropriate resources. Consultation with staff does not guarantee that your proposal will be funded, but it may help you focus your proposal more clearly.

A grace period has been instituted for all grant deadlines.
You may submit your completed application for technical review during the grace period. All applicants who wish to take advantage of this service must have their completed final application postmarked at least one month prior to the program deadline. In a grace period review, arts staff will contact you if information is missing or incorrect. On applications received after the grace period deadline, staff will not contact you regarding missing information. Grants received at program deadlines must stand as received.

Send a draft.
A draft review provides comment on the narratives and budgets for your application. Drafts review would not include support documents. Staff can review drafts submitted up until two weeks prior to the deadline for application. Staff will review and provide written comment. Applicants may request phone review for more discussion.

Include a cover letter
If there are extenuating circumstances preventing you from having a complete grant application packet (missing contract, resume, etc) on the deadline date, include a cover letter that clearly explains those circumstances. List the missing information and giving the date the materials will be delivered to the Division’s office. “As soon as possible” is not an acceptable delivery date. Materials received more than 45 days after the program deadline may not be reviewed. The Commission will rule on extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Get it in the mail on time.
The deadline is a postmark deadline. Late applications will not be reviewed. A metered postmark is not acceptable. Have your proposal hand canceled if necessary. If the deadline date falls on a weekend or holiday, check with Arts Staff. Hand-delivered applications must be in the Division’s office by 5 p.m. on the deadline date.

Use the correct application form.
If you are unsure about which form to use, contact Arts Staff. No forms are included in this publication. Contact staff or visit for all forms. Please submit two complete grant application packets, one original with original signatures and one set of copies. All submissions must be single-sided.

Use clear, concise language.
Reviewers read more than 200 applications in each grant cycle. Describe your project briefly and clearly.

Reviewers may not be familiar with you, your organization or your project.
New reviewers serve as panelists each year. They may not know your organization or your good work. Tell them, clearly and succinctly. Background information puts your project in context.

Answer ALL required questions in your narrative.
This is a chance to sell your project. Unanswered questions reduce your score. Cut and paste, repetitive answers do not score well.

If you are forging new alliances or creating opportunities for artists, show it.
Get letters of support to document your work with other artists and organizations.

Prepare your budget carefully.
• Never allow expenses to be larger than income.
• Detail costs, even if they are estimates. Be specific about how grant funds will be used.
• Keep budget realistic.

Document matching funds
If you list business or foundation support in the “Income” section of your application, document that support with a letter from the donor showing their intent to contribute.

Use the checklist! Include TWO SINGLE-SIDED COPIES of all required supplemental materials.
Include all documentation. Make sure accessibility/ADA materials are complete. Incomplete applications will be reviewed at a lower priority. Including current vendor registration (WV-1A) and W-9 forms speeds up processing of successful grants.

If slide documentation is required, send slides with each application.
Arts staff will not pull previously submitted slides/photos from Division files and add them to your application. One set of slides is sufficient for application.

Arts in Education grants require special documentation. Use your checklist!
Send examples of evaluation forms, as well as pre- and post-testing questions.

Type it! Handwritten applications will not be accepted.

Your application will be photocopied many times. Please submit clear, legible information. Grant applications are available online at and may be downloaded or scanned for use on your computer. Be sure to submit an application with original signature and one full copy. All submissions must be single-sided. The full ADA transition plan may be handwritten.

Have someone proofread your application.
A proofreader should be able to understand your project from your description. Have them check spelling and math.

Sign the application.
The person who is authorized to legally obligate your organization must sign the application. Make sure the ADA Compliance Form is signed.

The contact person or the signer of the application should not receive money through the grant.
This is a conflict of interest.

The application packet mailed to the WVCA should contain only application materials.
DO NOT include any additional materials or communications to the arts staff in the grant packet. (For example: Do not include a final report for a previous grant with a new application.) If you are applying to the Arts in Education category and Community Arts Project
Support category, please mail them under separate cover.

Make copies of everything for your files.
Please do not staple or bind your application or supplemental
materials. Use paper clips. Binding is costly to you and time-
consuming for staff.

WVCA grants programs are highly competitive. Each application must stand or fall or its own merit

If your application is not funded or partially funded, make sure you understand why. All applicants should receive notification of the status of their grant application in July. Unsuccessful applicants receive a letter with comments and suggestions for improvement. Successful applicants will receive a grant item sheet listing items funded, level of funding and reasons for the WVCA decision. If a panel reviewed your application, you will also receive their comments. Contact arts staff with questions. You are encouraged to review and incorporate any constructive comments into your next application.