How To Find Grants To Fund Arts And Culture


Rachel Hector


Writer, researcher, and grants professional

Reviewed by:


February 11, 2024

Last Updated:

February 12, 2024

Throughout the world there are thousands of nonprofits that are committed to supporting the arts and culture. For nonprofits engaged in this crucial work, finding the right grant opportunities can be a challenge.

Luckily, Instrumentl has a comprehensive set of tools and resources to help you find best-fit arts and culture grants so you can grow your organization and sustain your operations.

In the following article you will learn:

  • What arts and culture grants are
  • Why they are so important
  • How to quickly and easily find arts and culture grants with Instrumentl

Let’s dive in!

What Are Arts and Culture Grants?

Let’s start at the very beginning: when we talk about art and culture grants, what exactly does that mean?

Arts and culture grants refer to grant opportunities designed to fund organizations and programs working to support the proliferation of artistic expression and creativity within a community and/or to preserve and celebrate a community’s culture, including its heritage, customs, and art.

Arts and culture captures an expansive field of work that can include various institutions and programs, including but not limited to:

  • Museums,
  • Libraries,
  • Art galleries,
  • Historic sites,
  • Theaters,
  • Opera houses,
  • Cultural and artistic festivals,
  • Visual art and performing studios,
  • And more.

Arts and culture grants are available from a variety of funder types including private foundations, family foundations, corporate grantmaking programs, and government entities including municipal, state, and federal grants.

Notably, many arts and cultural institutions receive funding through federal grantmaking programs managed by the National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities, and its sub-agencies:

National Endowment for the Arts

Why Are Arts and Culture Grants Important for Nonprofits?

Arts and culture grants are vital to ensuring nonprofits, arts organizations, and our communities can share, view, and learn about art and the humanities.

When it comes to arts and culture in philanthropy, studies show that grantmaking can have a huge impact on improving diversity and inclusion throughout the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors:

According to the study “Diversity in Philanthropy Project Arts & Culture Case Study”:

Inclusion and diversity in art and culture philanthropy helps amplify the voices of historically underserved and underrepresented communities. Through grantmaking that prioritizes arts and culture, the history of communities who have been marginalized and erased can have a voice.

The more support for the arts, the more we can diversify our society and empower people and communities who have been historically disenfranchised.

Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from active opportunities.

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Examples of Arts and Culture Grants

Hundreds of funders including private foundations, corporations, and government agencies award arts and culture grants. Take a look at a few major funders and grant programs that are investing in human services and their communities through grantmaking:

Hearst Foundations

The Hearst Foundations is a long-time private funder of the arts.

In recent years, nearly 25% of the Hearst Foundation’s philanthropic giving has been invested in its Culture priority area with a focus on artist development, K-12 art curriculum, and science programs.

This grantmaking program has funded a variety of institutions, including but not limited to:

  • Art schools,
  • Ballets,
  • Museums,
  • Operas,
  • Performing Arts Centers,
  • Symphonies, and
  • Theaters.

The Hearst Foundations

A.O. Smith Foundation

The A.O. Smith Foundation is a corporate foundation with a focus on supporting the performing arts and the preservation of events, places, and cultures that shape the United States.

Notably, the A.O. Smith arts and culture grants program provides key investments to major institutions in the city of Milwaukee and surrounding area, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Mellon Foundation

Located in New York City, the Mellon Foundation focuses its grantmaking on arts and culture, higher learning, the humanities, and public knowledge. Its arts and culture priority area works to support exceptional creative practice, conservation practices, and scholarship.

Mellon Foundation

How To Find Arts and Culture Grants

You can find grants in many areas. There are funders who announce their grant opportunities on their websites, grant databases that aggregate similar opportunities, and government portals. You can also learn about grant opportunities through the grapevine of conferences and networking events.

The most efficient way to cut through the noise and find only the most relevant arts and culture grants is to use Instrumentl.

To start finding arts and culture grants, here’s how you do it.

  • Create a free Instrumentl account and get access to Instrumentl’s grant management platform for 14 days.
  • Search over 400,000 funders on Instrumentl and 15k+ active RFPs to find the most relevant arts and culture opportunities.
  • Once you find relevant grants, Instrumentl also provides competitive insights on each funder, like where and who they fund, how open they are to new grantees, how much they give, and the causes they support most.

This section will guide you through a step-by-step process of finding grants using Instrumentl.

Step 1: Set Up Your Nonprofit Within Instrumentl

After you’ve signed into Instrumentl, you’ll start creating a new project. You’ll have three steps to complete:

1. Share details about your organization and its location.

2. Create a project name.

3. Set up your grant search.

You will start by entering your organization’s information.

Start creating a new project

Fill in Details on Your Organization

In the “1. Organization” section, you’ll fill in details on your nonprofit, such as your location and fiscal year.

Organization section

You will also want to choose your state and what specific counties your nonprofit serves. That way, Instrumentl can share only relevant grants to your area.

Select country or state

Click “Save and Continue” to complete this first section.

Save and Continue

Provide an Overview of Your Project

In the next section, “2. Overview,” you’ll create a project. Think of a project in Instrumentl as similar to a “saved search.”

You can title your project anything you would like that is related to your field of work. We have titled our project, “Arts and Culture Grants”.

Next, you will select “Matches & Tracking'' because it will provide you with both a tracker and funding opportunity matches. You will want to select this type of project if you are seeking out new funding opportunities.

Project overview

Choosing “Tracking” is only best if you already have grants and you just want to track them in Instrumentl.

Once done, click “Save and Continue.

Save and Continue

Specify the Types of Grants You’re Looking for

In the last section, “3. Matches Setup,” you will specify the following:

  • The type of organization you are (most commonly, just “Nonprofit” rather than “College/University” or “Zoo”).
  • If you’re a faith-based nonprofit and only want to see grants specifically for that purpose.
  • The geographical areas you serve.
  • Your fields of work.
  • The grant size you’re looking for.
  • What you intend to use the funding for (projects, programs, operating expenses, etc.).

Matches Setup

We chose “Nonprofit” for our applicant type.

Additionally, since we want arts and culture grants—not grants specifically for faith-based organizations—we chose “No” when asked if we would like grants specifically for faith-based organizations.

Applicant type

: Many organizations that apply for arts and culture grants are in the Museum/Library/Zoo category so make sure to select your applicant type appropriately.

You will want to then select your location based on the state and counties you serve. This is so you can focus on state and local government funding options in your geographic area.

Select county or state

In our example, we chose Pennsylvania, specifically the counties surrounding the state capital of Harrisburg. Simply search your state and then select the counties that are relevant to your nonprofit.

Now, you will select the field of work you operate in to ensure you get matched with grants from funders who support nonprofits that do the work you do.

It’s best practice to select 2-3 fields of work so you have a wide enough scope of relevant grants.

When clicking “+Select fields of work,” search the cause you support and select 2-5 keywords from the drop-down that fit your mission. In our example, we searched the fields art & culture, art education, artist training & development, and youth involvement in the arts.

Select fields of work

When you choose art and culture under “field of work”, you will then be asked whether or not you would like to see grants for professional art and culture organizations.

Grants for professional art and culture organizations

This includes grants for professional performing groups and ensembles, and other professional organizations whose mission is art and culture.

Next, set a minimum or maximum type of grant you would like to be matched with. This will filter out grants that are either too small, making them not worth pursuing, or too large, making them too competitive.

In our example, we set a minimum of $1,000 and no maximum. Our medium- to large-nonprofit will take all the funding it can get!

Grants size

Finally, you will need to select what you will be using these funds for if awarded.

We chose “General Operating Expense” and “Project / Program.”

Select what you will be using these funds for if awarded

Invite Your Team Members

Don’t worry about having to research arts and culture grants all on your own, as Instrumentl allows you to invite up to 9 team members to collaborate on your grant research.

Invite your team members

Finally, you will choose the kind of funders that you would like to see grants from.

You may select all that apply. For this example, we have chosen all the available options to cover the most possible results.

Kind of funders

Once you have finished following these steps, Instrumentl will display all of the top grant matches for you to review.

Top grant matches

Step 2: Narrow Your Grant Search To Only Arts and Culture Grants

You now have a wide range of grant results to choose from–GREAT!

But you may be wondering how you can narrow it down even further. After all, 244 results is quite a large amount and it can take a while to sort through each query.

Luckily there are some tried and true strategies for specifying the search even further so you can find the best-fit arts and culture grant opportunities possible.

Briefly Review Your Grant Matches

First thing’s first, take a moment to briefly review your Funding Opportunity Matches that came up right away. You will see your matches on the left and details about each on the right.

Funding Opportunity Matches are active grants that aligned with your search criteria. As you can see, our search has yielded 244 grant matches!

Funding opportunity matches

Briefly Review Your Funder Matches

Next, you will want to review your “Funder Matches”. These aren’t active grants, but are instead funders whose missions and funding priorities align with those of your organization.

Funder matches

These could be funders without websites, or even funders who are invite-only. Just because a funder doesn’t have an active grant posted doesn't mean they don’t want to partner with you and support your organization with funding!

For more details on how to get noticed by invite-only funders, check out our in-depth guide.

Filter Your Results

Don’t be overwhelmed if you’re matched with hundreds of opportunities. You can use Instrumentl to filter your results to identify the crème de la crème of grant opportunities based on:

  • Funding use
  • Field of Work
  • Location of Project
  • Location of Residency
  • Past Giving
  • Funder type
  • Location
  • Saved or hidden on other projects

To narrow your search down further simply click on the “filter” drop down tab near the top of the screen.

Filter matches

For example, if you didn’t filter your original search to “Arts & Culture,” you can do so within your Matches and select “Exact Matches Only”.

Exact matches only

With these filters chosen, you will notice that your results have been significantly reduced. This will make it easier to evaluate opportunities that are most likely to align with your nonprofit’s funding needs, saving you valuable time.


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Step 3: Prioritize Your Grant Opportunities

Now that you have filtered and sorted your results, you can start prioritizing your funding opportunities by digging deeper into each potential grant.

As we mentioned before, you can simply click on one of your matches and the grant’s details will pop up on the right.

These details contain essential information that will help you evaluate whether a grant is worth pursuing.

Review the Grant Guidelines

One of the first things you will want to do is review the “FUNDER OPPORTUNITY” tab. This tab will provide you with an overview of the grant, including its focus area, amount, support type, eligibility requirements, guidelines, and more.

Funder opportunity tab

In this example, when selecting the Janny Ammons Foundation, you can scroll down and find:

  • Foundation overview,
  • Grant program overview,
  • Eligibility requirements, and
  • Ineligibility.

Janny Ammons Foundation

Gather Insights on Funders From Their 990s

Once you’ve reviewed the grant’s guidelines, you can select the “FUNDER 990 REPORT” tab to view a summary of data from the organization’s 990 filings with the IRS.

Funder 990 report

Instrumentl distills information pulled from 990s into easy-to-read snapshots so that you can gather invaluable insights into a funder’s:

  • Average grant size
  • The number of grants awarded
  • Geographic focus
  • Openness to new grantees
  • Nonprofits previously funded
  • Giving by NTEE codes

This information is critical for helping evaluate the funder or grant for alignment with your funding needs, how much capacity they have to give, likelihood of them awarding your organization a grant, and how to get in touch with key people at the organization.

Step 4: Save the Grants That You Want To Pursue Further

After evaluating the results of your art and culture grant search, you should be ready to designate which grant opportunities you would like to pursue further.

You can go ahead and click “Save” on the grants that catch your attention. That way, you’ll have a saved list of all the grants you may want to apply for in one place and don’t have to search for them later.

Funding opportunity

Once you have saved the grant, you can find it anytime by accessing the project tracker. All of the grants that you save to a project will be available in the project tracker, meaning you won’t have to go digging for them again.

Assign a Status To Stay Updated on It

Once you have clicked save on the grant opportunity, another window will pop up allowing you to categorize this opportunity so you can track it.

First, you will need to assign a status to the opportunity so you can quickly identify which stage in the grant process you are in.

Assign a status

We will go ahead and assign this opportunity as “Researching” since we have only just identified it and will want to evaluate it at further length.

Leave Notes On Your Saved Grants

When you save a grant opportunity, you can also leave notes on it for your whole team to access. For example, maybe you’ve worked with a particular funder in the past and want to make note of that so that you can mention your previous partnership in your proposal.

Add notes

Once you have completed this stage you can click “Save” and this opportunity will be available in the grant tracker.

Step 5: Store Saved Grants in Your Tracker for Future Reference

Now your grant opportunity is saved and will be stored in the Grants Tracker. You can view the Grants Tracker by clicking on the “Tracker” tab at the top of the page.

Grants tracker

From this page you can track the grant opportunity at every stage of the grant process, making it an effective way to manage all of your funding opportunities in one place for easy access and organization.

Update Your Grant Details

Once you have started pursuing an opportunity or made progress you can make notes or change the status of the opportunity so you can track each step in the grant lifecycle.

Update your grant details

In the example above, the status has been changed to LOI submitted. You can choose from a drop down menu with various status updates including:

  • Researching
  • Planned
  • LOI in progress
  • LOI submitted
  • Application in progress
  • Application submitted
  • Declined
  • Abandoned
  • Awarded - Active
  • Awarded Closed

You can also update the Notes section as needed throughout the grants process. For this example we have updated the notes section with additional supporting information.

Set Fundraising Goals

You can also set fundraising goals within your Tracker to align your grants with your financial targets. In our example, we set a fundraising goal of $100,000 over the next year.

Simply click on the “Edit” button under “Goal” in the top left hand corner of the grants tracker.

Set fundraising goals

Setting a fundraising goal can help you develop a strategy for best fit funding opportunities based on the ask amount. It can help you decide how much to ask for certain opportunities and identify gaps where funding is still needed.

Never Miss a Deadline

Key to Instrumentl’s grant tracking system is the deadline tracker.

Deadline’s are updated based on information pulled directly from the funder’s website and updates are sent to your email so you can stay on top of deadlines for each grant.

Deadline tracker

: You can filter your grants by deadline to highlight opportunities that are most urgent.

Assign Tasks To Your Team

Instrumentl’s grant tracker makes collaboration with your team and other key stakeholders easier than ever before.

Via the grant tracker’s “task” tool, you are able to assign responsibilities to members of your team.

Assign task

Click “+Add Task” to assign various duties to your team to ensure that you keep your project moving along through every step in the proposal process.

Add task

Report on Your Progress

Finally, Instrumentl also makes it easy to generate reports for internal and external stakeholders.

You can develop reports for your grant opportunities, the awards that you have won, any tasks, and the contact information of funders. These reports are great for keeping your Executive Director or Board of Directors in the loop.

Generate reports

FAQ on Arts and Culture Grants

Want to learn more about applying for arts and culture grants? Look no further!

Here are a few commonly asked questions when it comes to finding and applying for arts and culture grants.

What is the typical application process for arts and culture grants?

The typical application process for arts and culture grants can vary dramatically depending on the type of opportunity and funder.

Typically, most grant opportunities will follow a very straightforward application process most often starting with a Letter of Inquiry followed by an invitation to submit a full application alongside other finalists.

Are arts and culture grants typically recurring or one-time funding?

Arts and culture grants are available as both recurring or one-time funding. It really just depends on the funder.

If you are interested in multi-year grants or simply looking for a grant to fund a one-off program or pilot, be sure to consider this when researching grant opportunities.

Are there specific reporting requirements for arts and culture grants?

Yes, almost all arts and culture grants have specific reporting requirements. These requirements will vary depending on the opportunity and your organization’s field of work.

Can small nonprofits apply for arts and culture grants?

Yes, of course! Small nonprofits are often encouraged to apply for arts and culture grants.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when applying to arts and culture grants?

There are many common mistakes that a nonprofit can run into when applying to arts and culture grants. Some typical mistakes can be:

  • Not following directions: Ensure that your proposal follows all requirements and directions to the letter prior to submitting.
  • Misalignment with funder: Be sure to thoroughly research the organization and have a strong grasp of their mission and priorities before submitting an application.
  • Weak writing: Developing a cohesive and impactful narrative that addresses funder’s concerns and speaks to their priorities and values can make your proposal immensely competitive and bump you up to the top of the list of potential awardees.

Eager to learn more about how Instrumentl can streamline your grants process and help you secure more funding? Consider signing up for a free trial for 14 days to try it out yourself.

Rachel Hector

Rachel Hector is a writer, researcher, and grants professional with over 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector with a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) and nonprofit management from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

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