Grant Evaluation Criteria – 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

FY 2021 Grant Recipients

FY 2020 Grant Recipients

FY 2019 Grant Recipients

FY 2018 Grant Recipients 


Grant Information

All applications must be submitted online through the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s grant application web portal, which is live September 1  through November 1, 2021.

Please read all of this page to become familiar with the NCC’s requirements then click on the link above to review our Grant Evaluation Criteria form to see how we grade each application. When you are ready, create an account at the MCC by clicking on the link immediately below and scroll down to step 5.

Click here for a video from the MCC about navigating and filling in the grant application

If you experience trouble with the account registration email, please contact our regional representative at MCC, Timothea Pham by email at

Basic Overview

The Newton Cultural Council awards grants to projects in the humanities, arts and sciences every year. It requires all proposals to have a public benefit for Newton residents and encourages collaborative projects, novel ideas and serving underrepresented populations. The Council encourages Projects that elevate the voices and experiences of historically marginalized groups to highlight the current and historical diversity of Newton. The council awards grants to Newton residents or non-Newton residents if you are a MA resident and your proposal benefits Newton. An individual or organization may apply for no more than two grants in the same year. The council awards grants to Newton residents or non-Newton residents if you are a MA resident and your proposal benefits Newton. An individual or organization may apply for no more than two grants in the same year.

NOTE: The NCC does not fund programs in the Newton Public Schools.

*** NOTE: The NCC DOES fund programming at The Newton Free Library.

Newton Cultural Council strives to be an anti-racist, inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible council. We seek to increase funding for programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences created by or featuring BIPOC applicants and audiences. Newton Cultural Council will create internal organizational systems, processes, structures and cultures that encourage any person to engage with us. In creating an anti-racist and equitable council, we actively seek a multitude of voices within our community.

Types of Grants

NCC approves grants for a broad range of projects and programs, ticketed or free, such as performances, public art, informational presentations, or other activities, based on local priorities and needs.

Applicant Eligibility

  1. The applicant, or person leading the project/program, should have been engaged in the kind of activity for which funds are requested for at least one year.
  2. Individuals applicants must show that a public benefit in Newton results from the project for which they are applying. A public presentation of an individual’s work may provide the needed public benefit. Individual members of NCC may apply for funding from a Local Cultural Council but must observe all conflict of interest laws and regulations in the granting process.
  3. Incorporated private nonprofit organizations
  4. Unincorporated associations that can establish a non-profit objective. A group of individuals coming together with a common purpose (e.g., local community band, theater group) that do not have nonprofit status.
  5. Religious organizations or groups with a religious affiliation are eligible to apply for funding of cultural programming that is available to the general public. NCC can only approve applications that are primarily cultural in their intent and do not have the effect of advancing religion.


    1. Arts, Humanities, and Sciences
    2. Public Benefit
    3. Non-Discrimination
    4. Local Criteria

Arts, Humanities, and Science. NCC funds may only be used to support programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences in Newton. This definition includes the study, pursuit, performance, exhibition, and appreciation of cultural activities in the broadest sense.

Please see our NEW Grant Evaluation Criteria Form for how we are piloting putting all these priorities into action! 

How does NCC define the arts, humanities, and/or sciences?

  • Arts refer to the creation of work in the crafts and performing, visual, media, folk, design, literary, and inter-disciplinary arts. In addition, they also include the presentation and preservation of, and education about works in these disciplines.
  • Humanities are types of learning that deal with human values and aspirations, human thought and culture, language, and creativity. Examples include, but are not limited to, history, social studies, philosophy, criticism, and literature.
  • Science is limited to its cultural, interpretive, and educational expression and refers to types of learning that deal with nature, science, and technology in ways that explain how they relate to people’s lives. Some organizations that conduct this type of activity include aquariums, botanical gardens, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, and science centers.

Public Benefit

NCC funds must be used to support activities that contribute to the cultural vitality of the community as a whole, rather than benefiting any private individual or group. However, this does not mean that a large crowd of people needs to participate in order to satisfy the public benefit requirement.
For example, an artist working with a small group of teens is a valid public benefit, or a project includes a large number of Newtonites as artists and/or audience. Whenever possible, activities funded by the NCC should be available to the general public by exhibit, performance, demonstration, reading, or other means. The NCC will not give you money to start a home business.

Encouraging Inclusion

As part of our mission, Newton Cultural Council (NCC) desires to reach a more broad and diverse audience.  The Council encourages projects that elevate the voices and experiences of historically marginalized groups to highlight the current and historical diversity of Newton.  Also, if you are selling tickets to your performance, we would appreciate you donating 5-10 tickets so we can offer to people who do not have the means to otherwise attend.  Please let us know via email how many spaces you can provide. NCC will create the “passes” for those people, so you do not need to send us tickets; you will just need to honor these “passes at the door of your performance.


In accordance with state law, Local Cultural Councils may not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation or age, nor may they fund projects that discriminate on the basis of these attributes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that persons with disabilities have access to public programs or services on an equal basis with the rest of the general public. Furthermore, federal law mandates that any programs or service that receives federal or state funding must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Therefore, all events and programs funded by the LCCs must be accessible to persons with disabilities, including the facility or event location as well as the content of the program. For further information on ensuring accessible programming, please refer to the Accessibility page for LCCs at

Local Criteria

Due to COVID, the NCC is being encouraged to loosen requirements for a set date and venue at the time of application, so you are able to apply without a set venue. If you are able to secure a venue before applying, that’s great too! Finally, if you are able to/plan to hold your project virtually, it would be good to share that in the application as well.

Because NCC funding is not intended to be used as the sole source of funding for projects of a continuing nature, the NCC expects to see other sources of funding in project/program budget proposals. A project should be able to proceed without funding from an NCC grant, as grants tend to be modest in nature. For example, FY 2018 grants were capped at $1500 apiece, but if you have a project that meets all of our criteria, then ask for more. A full list of grant winners and amounts awarded is available under the “Funding List” tab HERE