Grants Frequently Asked Questions

How come some projects receive partial funding? Why don’t applicants get the full amount they requested?

All grants are decided via a rigorous process involving panelists who are peers and cultural leaders from throughout the country. Panel members evaluate all grant applications jointly for need, relevance to the community and a commitment to diversity, equity, access and inclusion.

Panelists examine the suggested project budget and decide whether to fund and/or how much to fund. Panel members usually award the highest scoring application the full amount of funding requested. However, most applicants that do get funded only get a portion of their request.

RISCA receives far more applications than we have allotted funding. However, the Community Engaged Project Grant and the Make Art Grant to Individual Artist programs receive full funding.

What is the best strategy to ensure total funding?

We suggest you ask for the money you need to complete your project along with an accurate budget. Panelists often approve partial funding, and examine your budget to make recommendations that would work for you.

What happens when my project gets partially funded?

With a limited budget, RISCA does not expect you to complete the project as proposed in your application. You can scale back the project based on the new budget or spread out the project over a longer period. You can also apply for another grant for the same project during a subsequent grant cycle.

Additionally, RISCA requests you send an email to your appropriate grant director as soon as possible with a brief description of the changes and/or updates. You do not need to fill out a new application, and we do not recommend it.

What if the amount of money my application was awarded is not enough for me to do even a partial project? Can I decline the grant? Will there be consequences?

You can absolutely decline the grant for any reason without fearing any kind of consequences. We understand that there are many reasons you are unable to complete a project. Just decline the grant on the grant agreement form, and/or email your program director. Any panel evaluating future applications will not know you declined a previous application unless you disclose that in the proposal.

How is my application reviewed and decided on?

Our grants are awarded through a panel process and not determined by RISCA staff members. After you submit your application, notification can take between six weeks and 12 weeks. The following is generally grant review process, however, there could be slight variations depending on the grant program:

  • Staff members check that each application meets eligibility requirements, is complete, and we take some notes about content, genres represented and style.
  • Grant review panels have been recruited by staff members. Our panelists are artists, arts administrators, and people working in arts-adjacent fields or serving artists. We recruit a new set of panelists for each grant cycle. Panelists serve once every three years.
  • Panelists are sent grant applications to review and give a preliminary score. We ask the panelists to spend 30 minutes reviewing each application and give them at least one month to prepare. In addition, to submitting a numerical score via our online grant system, they also take notes and make comments about each application in preparation for a formal review meeting.
  • Facilitated by the program director, the panelists meet to discuss each application. After much discussion, panelists update their score for each application, and each receives a total score. Using the score totals, the panelists make funding recommendations.
  • During the panel meeting, the program directors and a volunteer staff member take notes to document and provide feedback to the applicant.
  • Our Council members, who are appointed by the Governor, review the grant recommendations for approval.
  • Once the grants have been approved, we send out notifications via mail to each applicant.

Who sits on the grant panel?

For each panel, we recruit with an eye toward diversity in artistic discipline, arts experience, geographic location, community engagement, age, gender and race. If you are interested in serving on a panel, fill out our panel form.

What are your top grant writing tips?

We recommend that you closely read the guidelines and follow the directions on the grant application. Make sure you follow the formatting and file submission requirements. Double check that the numbers in your budget match the numbers in your narrative.

How can I get some assistance with the budget form? 

First review the video, how to make a RISCA project budget. If you need additional assistance, make an appointment with your program director or visit drop-in support hours posted on our Facebook events page.

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