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Funding for Cultural Facilities

The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) is an initiative of the state of Massachusetts. It was created as part of a major economic stimulus bill approved by the Massachusetts Legislature in July, 2006. Since then, $110 million has been awarded to cultural facilities in the Commonwealth.

The goal of the Cultural Facilities Fund is to increase investments from both the public sector and the private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities in Massachusetts.

We provide grants to promote the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, expansion, or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities in Massachusetts. All grants from the Fund must be matched with cash contributions from the private or public sector.

Nonprofit cultural organizations, municipalities and colleges or universities that own cultural facilities are eligible to apply.

Eligibility Requirements
The following entities ("Cultural Organizations") are eligible to apply for grants for Cultural facilities:

  • Nonprofit cultural organizations: 501(c)(3) organizations that are primarily concerned with the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The legislation includes but is not limited to museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, theaters, concert halls, exhibition spaces, classrooms, and auditoriums ("Cultural Facilities"). Eligible facilities must be owned, leased, or used by one or more nonprofit cultural organizations, and must be accessible to the public.


  • Municipalities that own cultural facilities: provided that the cultural facility is at least 50,000 square feet in size, and at least 50% devoted to cultural purposes provided. However, if such building, structure, or site is 125 years old or older and is significant in the history, archeology, architecture or culture of the nation, the commonwealth, or the community in which it is located, it may be of any size.


  • Public or private institutions of higher education that own cultural facilities: provided that the cultural facility provides service and open access to the community and the general public beyond its educational mission and can demonstrate financial need.

Grant Categories

Applicants may only apply for one grant per round, with the exception of a Systems Replacement Plan Grant, which may be applied for in tandem with any other grant category.

In addition, if an organization is awarded a Capital Grant it may also be awarded a Systems Replacement Plan Grant, if recommended by the Cultural Facilities Fund review panel. Completion of said Systems Replacement Plan may be a precondition to obtaining any capital grant funds.

  • Capital Grants: For the acquisition, design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance of a cultural facility. All of the following would qualify for consideration under this description:
    • New construction.
    • Additions to an existing structure.
    • Renovations or repairs to an existing structure.
    • Fixed/integrated equipment.
    • Any combination of the above. 
  • Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants (FTA): For costs and expenses related to overall planning and feasibility for a proposed eligible project.
  • Systems Replacement Plan Grants (SRP): These are a specific type of Feasibility and Technical Assistance Grant specifically designed for organizations without full-time maintenance staff. The SRP is a 20-year capital needs assessment of the building and its mechanical systems.

Threshold Criteria

The statute of the Cultural Facilities Fund has established five threshold review criteria for all its grants:

  • Project must be an "eligible project"
  • There must be a demonstrated community need for the project.
  • The project must be able to demonstrate that it will benefit tourism in the local area.
  • There must be a demonstrated financial need for a grant.
  • The project must be able to demonstrate local support.

In addition to the statutory threshold criteria:

  • Capital Grant applicants must meet "financial capacity" threshold criteria.
  • A College or University must demonstrate that its cultural facility provides service and open access to the community and the general public outside of the regular educational mission.
  • A Municipality must demonstrate how 50% or more of its facility is for arts, humanities or interpretive science programming.

Award Ranges and Cash Matching Requirements

Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants
Grants up to $50,000    1-1 match

Systems Replacement Plan Grants
Grants of $7,000   1-1 match

Capital Grants
Award maximums for Capital Grants have not been set at this time. In the past, maximum grants have ranged from $200,000 to $675,000. A maximum grant amount will be set by the Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee during the review process.

Cash Matching Requirements:
All grants less than $1,000,000 awarded by the Cultural Facilities Fund are subject to a 1:1 matching requirement. All matches have to be in the form of a secured cash match. Pledges and in-kind goods or services are not eligible towards the match.

If you are awarded a grant, the entire 1:1 match has to be in hand before you can enter into a grant agreement with MassDevelopment and draw grant funds. Pledges do not fulfill the matching requirement.

Applications for grants in the later phases of building fundraising campaigns are welcome. Matching funds may include private funds donated to the Grantee and designated for the Eligible Project, or federal or municipal appropriations. The following may not be used as matching funds:

  • Operating funds expended by the organization for: 
    • Mortgage interest
    • Fundraising costs
    • Staff salaries
    • Other operating activities;
  • Loan Proceeds
  • Selling capital assets including the deaccessioning of museum collections;
  • Funds already expended on the eligible project prior to September 1, 2018; and
  • Funds received from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Capital Grantees will have up to 24 months and Feasibility and Technical Assistance and System Replacement Grantees up to 12 months from the grant approval date to raise matching funds. However, as part of the evaluation criteria, applicants which demonstrate ability to raise matching funds within 12 months will be prioritized for award. Matching funds must be used for eligible project costs.

Post date: Nov 30 2018 - 2:06pm
Deadline: Jan 11 2019
Program Interest: Arts & culture

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