NASAA Notes: June 2024

June 7, 2024

Michigan: New Grant-making Initiatives

Living Arts, based in Detroit. Photo courtesy of JLindsey

State arts agencies (SAAs) nationwide are increasingly prioritizing equity in their grant-making practices, recognizing the importance of fair and transparent allocation of funds to support diverse communities and cultural organizations. In a noteworthy development, the Michigan Arts and Culture Council (MACC) recently introduced several new grant making policy changes aimed at streamlining and transforming its funding process to make funds more accessible.

With a renewed focus on equity, fairness and transparency, MACC embarked on a transformative journey in fall 2023 in partnership with the Michigan Office of Continuous Improvement. Together, they analyzed the existing grant application process to enhance efficiency and better meet the needs of applicants. This comprehensive review involved identifying and eliminating inefficiencies, recommending program consolidations, and establishing fully documented processes in compliance with state and federal requirements. Working closely with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, MACC also developed policies and procedures to mitigate conflicts of interest in the granting process.

Central to this process was a comprehensive survey that gathered feedback from over 600 individuals and organizations across the state. This data-driven and constituent-driven approach provided valuable insights and shaped the future direction of MACC’s grant-making efforts. As a result of this collaborative effort, MACC has introduced several significant changes for fiscal year 2025:

  • Simplified application: Applicants will now submit a single grant application per fiscal year, encompassing all available funding opportunities, streamlining the process for greater efficiency.
  • Application fees: MACC has eliminated application fees, removing financial barriers and increasing access for organizations seeking funding.
  • Funding allocations: The council has rebalanced how it allocates grant dollars and will allow smaller, emerging and historically underrepresented organizations to apply for larger amounts of funding. This move aims to level the playing field and promote equity in funding distribution.
  • Cash match: Awardees will now be required to make a 25% cash match based on the awarded amount, significantly reducing the previous requirement of a 100% match.
  • Grant evaluation: MACC has transitioned to a compliance based funding model, eliminating the peer-review grant panel process and subjective scoring. Applications will now be evaluated objectively based on eligibility and compliance with state and federal requirements. All eligible applications will be funded. Dollars will be divided among eligible applicants, all of whom will receive an equal percentage of their request.

These initiatives represent a significant step forward in MACC’s commitment to fostering equity, fairness and transparency in its grant-making practices. By implementing these changes, MACC aims to ensure that arts and culture remain accessible to all Michigan residents, enriching communities and promoting diversity and inclusion across the state. To learn more about this initiative, contact Michigan Arts and Culture Council Director Alison Watson.

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