NASAA Notes: October 2021

October 4, 2021

Maryland: Equitable Funding Model for General Operating Support

A theatre in Cumberland, Maryland. This still image was taken as part of MSAC’s Wide Angle Youth Media video series, Arts Across Maryland. Photo Courtesy Maryland State Arts Council

As part of Maryland State Arts Council’s (MSAC) push for greater equity in the arts, it has adopted a new funding model for its Grants for Organizations program that will prioritize funding for smaller arts and culture organizations. The new model was developed using MSAC’s equitable strategies for program changes: holding public listening sessions, gathering input through a public editor process and researching equity best practices currently employed by other agencies.

The agency’s current formula grants a maximum award based on a flat percentage of revenue that applies to all organizations. Moving forward, organizations will be grouped into five tiers based on revenue and given a progressive cap to their grant award: smaller organizations will have a grant cap that is a larger percentage of their revenue and larger organizations will have a smaller cap. This change will allocate more funding for smaller arts and culture organizations, who are more likely to be led by and serve people of color, rural, low-income and other underserved communities.

The new funding model will be implemented over a five-year period beginning in fiscal year 2024. Over those five years, the absolute cap on grant funding will decrease from $1.4 million to $1 million. An immediate change will be made to support new organizations in FY2023, as new applicants to the Grants for Organizations programs will no longer be required to go through a trial period before receiving their full grant funding.

When these changes to funding are complete, MSAC expects that 250 organizations will see their share of the total funding increase from the current 54% to 73%. Larger general operating support grants for small and medium-sized organizations will promote broader access to the greater autonomy, flexibility and stability that these grants provide. For questions or information about MSAC’s new equitable funding model, contact program directors Laura Weiss and Emily Sollenberger Dobbins. Additional background can be found in NASAA’s In Pursuit of Equity: Four Case Studies of State Arts Agencies, which includes MSAC and the range of actions it is taking to foster equitable practices.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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