Artistic Innovations

The Artistic Innovations Grant Program encourages the spirit of experimentation and exploration, exclusively engaging in-region artists in the creation of new, original works for audiences in the M-AAA region.

This grant program offers up to $15,000 in support of expenses incurred in the art-making process and premiere of these endeavors. Through generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, M-AAA supports individual artists and arts-based nonprofit 501c3 organizations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas for projects that meet the eligibility requirements listed below.

Grant Panelists Needed: Are you an artist or arts administrator? M-AAA is seeking panelists to help with the selection process for Artistic Innovations grants. Review of application materials followed by a reviewer meeting typically takes place in April. The meeting is held in a web-based format (via phone and computer). Reviewers are not expected to travel; however, each reviewer must be able to commit to an independent review of applications in advance of the meeting which may take as many as five hours. Reviewers must have a computer capable of browsing and online meetings as well as reliable internet access. Express your interest here.

Update: In an effort to make the process more efficient for applicants, the Artistic Innovations grant program no longer requires a Letter of Intent. Applications for projects occurring between July 1, 2022–June 30, 2023, are now closed. Applicants will be notified of their status in June 2022.

Questions? Please email innovations@maaa.org.

A great Artistic Innovations project is one that has in-person experiences of art, art making, or artists at the heart of the initiative and introduces a new or original idea or product to the applicant’s audience. Engagement through feature presentation and outreach includes but is not limited to performance, publication, lecture/demonstration, exhibition, master class and/or workshop.

Program Objectives

The objective of the Artistic Innovations Grant Program is to support the creation of new, original works of art by eligible in-region artists and organizations. See Applicant Eligibility for more information.

The works of art culminate in at least two public-facing events: one, the premiere feature presentation and the second, an educational outreach event that occurs in M-AAA’s six-state region between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. See Project Eligibility for more information.

M-AAA will incorporate principles of equity, access, and inclusion in our implementation of the Artistic Innovations Grant Program. Applications will be assessed for artistic merit and artistic excellence. See Review Criteria for more information.

Awards will be made across the six-state M-AAA region, with at least two grants awarded per state (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas). This program will disburse matching grants of up to $15,000 to no less than twelve grantees.

M-AAA intends to make awards that encourage the spirit of experimentation and exploration and benefit a broad constituency. We encourage applications from a variety of eligible applicants including:

  • Artists and organizations that embody and/or serve populations that are underserved, such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by external forces such as cultural representation/relevance and accessibility,
  • Artists and organizations from rural to urban communities, and
  • Artists and organizations that may be applying to M-AAA for a grant for the first time.

This funding is provided through generous support from the National Endowment for
the Arts (CFDA #45.025 Promotion of the Arts Partnership Agreements). The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups, including:

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities,
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities,
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes,
  • African American Serving Institutions,
  • Hispanic Serving Institutions,
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and
  • Organizations that support the independence and lifelong inclusion of people with disabilities.
Applicant Eligibility

Individual Artist Applicants must:

  1. not be an Artistic Innovations grant recipient or the featured artist/ensemble in another Artistic Innovations project in fiscal year 2022;
  2. be at least 21 years of age by the application due date;
  3. provide a valid Social Security Number if selected for funding;
  4. have a résumé that demonstrates at least three years of engagement in a creative practice prior to the application due date. The creative practice is not required to have taken place during consecutive years. If the applicant’s creative practice was affected or suspended due to COVID-19, the application may reference 2020 or 2021 activities that were cancelled or reimagined due to the pandemic. Virtual activities are considered creative practice. The applicant may also choose to list creative practice from a year other than 2020 or 2021. For the purposes of defining eligibility, “three-years of engagement” refers to when the applicant began their creative practice independent of activities required in pursuit of an academic degree or other certification;
  5. apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent are not allowed;
  6. have lived in the Mid-America Arts Alliance region full-time for at least three years prior to the application due date and if awarded remain a resident during the entire grant period of activity;
  7. be in good standing with Mid-America Arts Alliance and all other federal agencies, with no delinquent reports and/or grant documents.

Applicant Organizations must:

  1. not be an Artistic Innovations grant recipient or a featured artist/ensemble or partnering organization in another Artistic Innovations project in fiscal year 2022;
  2. be a nonprofit, 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, a unit of state or local government, or a federally recognized tribal community;
  3. be a nonprofit organization that has its own Board of Directors with its own established bylaws, and manages its own budget independent of a parent organization;
  4. be incorporated in and currently conducting business in one or more states in the M-AAA region, which includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas;
  5. have at least a three-year history of arts programming prior to the application due date. Programming is not required to have taken place during consecutive years. If the applicant’s programming was affected or suspended due to COVID-19, the application may reference 2020 or 2021 programming that was cancelled or reimagined due to the pandemic. Virtual programming, planning, and COVID-19 recovery activities are considered to be programming. You may also choose to list arts programming from a recent year other than 2020 or 2021. For the purposes of defining eligibility, “three-year history” refers to when an organization began its arts programming and not when it incorporated or received nonprofit, tax-exempt status);
  6. have arts and culture explicitly stated as central to the organization’s mission. An organization that include arts and culture as a primary and major focus of a larger mission may apply if their larger mission is centered in serving a specific cultural group;
  7. compensate all professional artists or supporting professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation in accordance with Part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
  8. apply directly on its own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent are not allowed;
  9. have and provide a valid EIN which will be verified using the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool
  10. have a valid Data Universal Numbering System ID (DUNS #) or UEI (Unique Entity Identifier) created in the System for Award Management
  11. be in good standing with M-AAA and all other federal agencies, with no delinquent reports and/or grant documents.

Those that are not eligible to apply include:

  • For-profit organizations
  • Organizations whose primary focus, programming, and mission is not specifically arts related
  • State Arts Agencies
  • Fiscal sponsors
  • Public television and other public media organizations
Project Eligibility

A great Artistic Innovations project is a work that has in-person experiences of art, art making, or artists at the heart of the endeavor and introduces a new original idea or artwork to the applicant’s audience. M-AAA recognizes that in-person projects might not be possible given ongoing public health concerns surrounding COVID-19, but for the purposes of the application process we ask that the applicant plan for the best-case scenario in which in-person experiences are a safe option.

Eligible projects must:

  • be new and original work that culminates in at least two accessible, public-facing events: one, the premiere feature presentation and the second, an educational outreach event. These events must occur in M-AAA’s six-state region between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. Public-facing events include but are not limited to performance, publication, lecture/demonstration, exhibition, master class and/or workshop;
  • exclusively draw upon the talent of artists who reside in the M-AAA region at the time of application and throughout the grant period; and
  • have an anticipated project budget that reflects a 1:1 dollar-for-dollar match for the grant amount requested. Grant requests are limited to $15,000. Organizational applicants must show evidence of a cash match. Individual artist applicants may meet the 1:1 match requirement through both cash and in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions and all other funding procured or pending for any project should be included in the budget. Federal and other M-AAA grant funding cannot be used to meet the 1:1 match requirement for any applicant.

Financial support is limited to most direct expenses incurred in the art-making process and the public-facing events. Allowed expenditures include, but are not limited to commissioning fees, artists’ fees, rehearsal or studio expenses, production or exhibition materials, as well as promotion and audience development for all public-facing engagements related to the project. Indirect costs and expenses associated with the project’s opening or closing (e.g., receptions) are not allowed.

Projects that are not eligible for consideration include:

  • those that engage audiences solely through online streaming content,
  • adaptations from one medium to another,
  • remounting of past work in a new venue,
  • traditional restaging of classic productions,
  • rereleases of previously published or recorded material,
  • art festivals or fairs,
  • art competitions,
  • scholarships or fundraisers,
  • projects that involve any artist who resides outside the M-AAA region,
  • projects with budgets that include indirect costs and/or expenses associated with the project’s opening or closing (e.g., receptions), and
  • projects with more than one application submitted.
Grant Amount and Terms of Support
  • Each applicant may submit one application for a grant request amount of up to $15,000. Applicants are encouraged to request an amount that is reflective of the project and their capacity to manage the grant.
  • Grant funds may be used for expenses incurred starting on or after July 1, 2022, and must be totally expended on or by June 30, 2023.
  • This grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match. Applicant organizations must show evidence of a cash match. Individual artist applicants may meet the match requirement through cash and in-kind contributions. Federal and other M-AAA grant funding cannot be used to meet the 1:1 match requirement for any applicant. In-kind contributions and all other funding procured or pending for any project should be included in the budget.
  • Funding awarded through this program must be used exclusively for project expenses. See Project Eligibility above.

Funding is not available for:

  • contracts with artists/personnel who reside outside M-AAA’s region;
  • compensation for applicant organization’s board of directors;
  • subgranting, regranting, or cash awards;
  • indirect costs;
  • expenses associated with the project’s opening or closing (e.g., receptions); and
  • expenses associated with benefits or fundraiser events.
Grantee Requirements

Grantees will be required to:

  • fully execute and meet all requirements stipulated in the grant agreement, which indicates compliance with established program guidelines and requirements per the M-AAA Grant Terms and Conditions;
  • commit to M-AAA’s Grantee Assurance of Compliance and Federal Suspension and Disbarment Policy
  • carry out activities consistent with the original application as approved for funding. Changes to funded activities must be proposed in advance and require prior written approval from M-AAA staff. Requests for changes are considered on a case-by-case basis; approval is not guaranteed;
  • complete an interim and final report form provided by M-AAA. The online final report form summarizes grant-funded activities and accomplishments at the end of the project activity period or at the end of the period of support, whichever occurs first;
  • agree to acknowledge M-AAA and the NEA in all marketing and communications materials that specifically reference the project including printed, electronic materials and websites (program, catalogs, postcards, posters, newsletters, leaflets, publication, etc.) ;
  • retain all records, receipts, and proof of expenses for a minimum of three years following the grant period and provide those documents to M-AAA or the NEA upon request; and
  • expend all funds between July 1, 2022 and on or by June 30, 2023.
Review Criteria

Review of application materials will focus on:

Artistic Excellence through the work of art

  • The artistic strength of the proposed project (i.e., description of the project is clear; evidence of artistic excellence in the work samples; how well the project fits into the scope and mission of the applicant’s body of work)

Artistic Merit through stewardship of funding

  • The viability of the project (i.e., timetable and budget are achievable and reasonable; proactive plan for audience development; adequately identifies risks and ways to manage them; exhibits an evaluation plan), and
  • How well the proposed project aligns with the grant program objectives (i.e., the incorporation of principles of equity, access, and inclusion; experimentation and innovation across/within creative disciplines, provides new insights; introduces a new or original idea or product through public-facing events; and/or leverages other opportunities).
Program Timeline
  • Application will be available no later than Monday, January 10, 2022.
  • Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.
  • Applications will be reviewed by M-AAA staff for applicant and project eligibility.
  • Discipline Specific Advisory Panel Review underway in April 2022.
  • Funding notification will be made the week of Monday, June 13, 2022.
  • Grant agreement and funding distribution will take place in July 2022.
  • Grant period of activity spans July 1, 2022–June 30, 2023.
  • Final Report due no later than July 31, 2023.

Applicants may consult with M-AAA staff prior to applying, but staff members will not review or provide comments on draft materials.

Once submitted, applications will be screened by M-AAA staff for Applicant Eligibility and Project Eligibility. See Applicant Eligibility and Project Eligibility above for more information.

Eligible applications will be reviewed by advisory panels for artistic excellence and artistic merit. See Review Criteria above for more information. Advisory panels are discipline specific and consist of 3-5 artists, arts professionals, and arts-interested laypersons who reside in the M-AAA region.

Grant recipients will receive grant agreements, an online interim report form, W9 Form and an initial grant payment in July 2022. Funding will be distributed through two payments: 50% upon execution of the Grant Agreement, Interim Report and W9 Form. The balance will follow the successful review of the online final report, which is due no later than July 31, 2023.

Final Reporting

M-AAA will provide an online Final Report form. Grant recipients must complete and submit one no later than July 31, 2023. The Final Report form requires a summary about the project, attendance numbers, photos of the project and other documentation including proof of NEA and M-AAA acknowledgment in online and print materials. A Final Report at a Glance document will be provided with the Grant Agreement for ease of reference when collection during the grant period.

Grant recipients must document purchases, the work by vendors, artists, and other contractual personnel which are charged, in whole or in part, to the Artistic Innovations Grant funds. Further, grant recipients must maintain that documentation for three years following the submission of the Final Report.

M-AAA Policies and Procedures

Grant recipients must comply with the Federal policies and legal requirements, statutes, and regulations as stated in M-AAA’s Assurance of Compliance.

Grant recipients are required to make accommodations for constituents with disabilities at grant-funded activities upon request. The National Endowment for the Arts has resources to assist arts organizations in making accommodations.

Grant recipients must compensate all professional performers and related or supporting professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum rate of compensation. This requirement is in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor in part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 505 does not provide information on specific compensation levels.

Grant awards are considered income. Grant recipients are responsible for all tax obligations under federal, state, and local laws. M-AAA recommends that all recipients consult a tax accountant or local Internal Revenue Service office with questions or concerns regarding deductions and reporting.

Grant recipients who fail to properly acknowledge Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts’ support in programs, websites, press releases, and other communications materials for the supported activities may not be considered for future funding opportunities.

All changes related to grant funding must be submitted in writing to M-AAA staff in a timely manner. Awards may be revised or revoked in light of such changes.

Appeals Process

Applicants can request a review of the method for M-AAA’s decisions concerning grant applications through the appeals process. Dissatisfaction with the denial or amount of an award is not sufficient reason for an appeal.

An applicant not funded may appeal M-AAA’s decision if the applicant can demonstrate that the application was rejected for any of the following reasons:

  • Application was reviewed using criteria other than those published;
  • Award decision was influenced by panelist/staff/committee member who failed to disclose conflict of interest; and/or
  • Application materials (submitted by the deadline) were not provided to panelist/staff/committee members.

To appeal a grant determination, first contact the M-AAA Director of Arts and Humanities Grant Programs to review considerations affecting the decision. If you believe that you have grounds for an appeal, you must submit your appeal, in writing or by email, to M-AAA’s President and CEO, no later than 15 calendar days following the receipt of the notice from M-AAA. The submission should contain evidence to support one or more of the allowable grounds for appeal. The decision on appeal will be made by the President and CEO, who will render a decision within 30 days of the appeal. Email or mail your appeal to M-AAA, 2018 Baltimore Avenue, Kansas City MO 64108, ATTN. President and CEO.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed. 

M-AAA accepts grant applications via an online form. If you have accessibility needs for an alternate format or process for completing the application please contact: Angelette Sevart, Operations and Accessibility Coordinator at angelette (at) maaa.org or (816) 421-1388 ext. 216.