Montana Cultural Trust/Cultural & Aesthetic Project Grants

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Name of Cultural Fund
Montana CulturalTrust/Cultural & Aesthetic Project Grants

Year Authorized

1975 (legislated in 1979)

Contact NASAA for legislation

Purpose of Fund

The purpose of the Trust is to support “cultural and aesthetic projects including, but not limited to, the visual, performing, literary and media arts, history, archaeology, folklore, archives, collections, research, historic preservation and the construction or renovation of cultural facilities.”

Total Funding Goal

No stated funding goal

Funding Sources

Coal severance tax revenue: about $300,000 per year

The Trust received one-time funding from the state bed tax and the general fund.

Special Taxes or Legislation

The Trust is funded by 0.63% of the coal severance tax. The estimated annual growth from the coal tax for fiscal year 2012 is $300,000 with projected interest rates of 4.6%.

Current Principal Amount

$11.6 million

Financial Management

The Trust is managed by the Board of Investments.

How Funds Will Be Distributed

There are four grant categories:

  • Special projects, for specific cultural and aesthetic activities; matching funds may be required.
  • Operational support, for institutions in existence for at least two years; matching funds may be required.
  • Capital expenditures (cannot exceed 25% of total trust funds awarded); these grants require a 3:1 match.
  • Challenge grants for permanent endowments; no endowment grants have been awarded since 1999.

Originally, funds were used for the restoration of capitol art, oral histories and other cultural projects.

State Arts Agency Role

The state arts agency manages the earnings from the Trust and established rules and processes for grant applicants (match requirements, deadlines, evaluations, etc.).


Historical society, Montana
Committee for the Humanities

Other Notes and Comments

Although the advisory board recommends funding designations, the state legislature makes the final decisions and often bypasses the board altogether. Originally, the Trust was maintained by the historical society, but management was taken over by the state arts agency in 1984. Since its inception, the Trust has awarded $17.3 million.

Many thanks to Montana Arts Council Accountant Carleen Layne for providing this information.

Updated May 2011 by Elizabeth Bentley-Smith