General Operating Support: Medium and Large Arts Organizations | GOS

General Operating Support: Medium and Large Arts Organizations | GOS

General Operating Support: Medium and Large Arts Organizations | GOS

The purpose of General Operating Support Grants for Medium and Large Arts Organizations is to invest in high-caliber arts organizations in fulfilling their missions. The VCA serves as a partner by providing operating funds to continue, strengthen, and expand arts experiences that benefit all Virginians.


To invest in high-caliber arts organizations in fulfilling their missions. The VCA serves as a partner by providing operating funds to continue, strengthen, and expand arts experiences that benefit all Virginians.

Eligible Applicants

  • Meets the basic eligibility requirements as listed on page 9 
  • Virginia organizations whose primary purpose is the arts (units of government, organizations using a fiscal agent, and educational institutions and their private companion foundations are not eligible for GOS)  
  • Is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code 
  • Is incorporated in Virginia for at least one year prior to application 
  • Has its headquarters and home season in Virginia 
  • Has completed three (3) years of programming 
  • Presents at least three (3) different programs or services for the public each year 
  • Had a previous year’s cash income of at least $150,000. Organizations with smaller budgets may be eligible for OSS grants or for Community or Educational Impact Grants. 
  • Presents activities in ADA-compliant venue(s) including wheelchair access to restrooms 
  • Is governed by a board of directors that meets regularly 
  • Must not be under current debarment or suspension from federal funding 
  • Must have no past-due Final Reports to the VCA at the time of application  
  • First-time General Operating Support (GOS) applicants must contact the Commission staff before applying to confirm eligibility.  
  • Organizations with an income of $75,000 – $150,00 from the most previously completed fiscal or calendar year may opt to file the GOS for Medium and Large Organizations’ long-form applications to be reviewed by a statewide panel, but may not apply for both GOS and OSS.  
  • Organizations applying for GOS may not apply for:  
    • Community Impact Grants  
    • Arts in Practice Grants 

Additional Requirements

Avocational Organizations 

Priority in this funding program will be given to organizations that pay artists. Avocational organizations may be funded in this program if they provide specific services or programs that would otherwise not be available in that particular geographic area. Avocational organizations may apply in the other grant programs of the Commission. 


A Partnership-funded festival must be: 

    • a separately incorporated Virginia organization with a year-round administrative staff  
    • maintain a primary purpose in the arts 
    • maintain a year-round presence in the community 
    • spend the majority of its budget on arts activities 
    • last longer than three consecutive days 
    • hire professional artists 
    • include education and outreach programs as part of the festival 

Other festivals may apply for Community Impact Grants and Virginia Touring Grants, if applicable. 

Educational Organizations 

Organizations that exist primarily to provide arts education should meet the following criteria: 

    • maintain a diversified funding base, beyond tuition and ticket sales for public performances, that shows widespread community support 
    • employ teaching artists who are professionals or former professionals in their fields 
    • offer classes aimed at acquiring skills at ever-increasing levels of difficulty 
    • offer classes focused on the development of skills rather than rehearsals for a performance  
    • offer scholarships for low-income students with an active effort to recruit students from diverse segments of the community 
    • present regular opportunities for students to perform or exhibit for the public 

Vocal, Dance, and Musical Ensembles 

 Vocal, dance, and musical ensembles that perform primarily pop, Broadway, or barbershop music, or that focus primarily on competitions are not eligible for General Operating Support but may be eligible to apply for Community or Education Impact Grants. 

Eligible Expenses

Funding from General Operating Support grants may be used to support most aspects of an arts organization’s annual operating expenses (not including capital expenses), such as: 

  • Artist fees 
  • Administrative costs 
  • Contractual services 
  • Accessibility services  
  • Facilities operations (utilities, rent, routine maintenance, etc.) 
  • Marketing or publicity of events/activities 
  • Personnel (salaries, benefits, etc.) 
  • Professional development (workshops, seminars, conferences, excluding credit-earning post-secondary coursework) 
  • Supplies and materials 
  • Technical costs 
  • Travel (domestic) and other operational expenses necessary to deliver arts programs and services 

Application Deadline

The Commission awards all General Operating Support Grants for a one-year period. Each grantee is required to submit an application annually. Organizations that have been funded by the Commission in the General Operating Support category in the current year will be notified by the Commission in mid-December regarding information requirements for the application deadlines. All new applicants must contact the Commission before applying to determine eligibility. 

  • Short Form Applications are due February 1, 2023, by 5:00 p.m. EST, for expenses occurring between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024. 
  • Long Form applications are due by March 1, 2023, by 5:00 p.m. EST, for expenses occurring between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024. 

Required Attachments

The following forms will be provided by the VCA via upload in the online grant application: 

  • Signed Certification of Assurances 
  • Virginia W-9 Form 

Applicants must generate and upload the following support documents: 

  • List of staff (paid or volunteer) and their roles 
  • List of board members highlighting officers and including members’ affiliations  
  • IRS 501 (c)(3) Determination Letter 
  • Profit & Loss Statement from the Most Recently Completed Fiscal or Calendar Year 
  • Balance Sheet from December 31, 2022 
  • Budget for the Year of the Grant 

Reporting Requirements

If the grant is awarded, the organization must submit a partial year-end report no later than June 1 in order to receive the second (final) grant payment. Failure to submit a final report by June 1 will impact future funding. If an organization undergoes a substantive change in its mission, program, artistic leadership, or management during the grant period, the Commission must be notified immediately. If in the opinion of the Commission, such changes alter the purpose for which the grant was awarded, the Commission may require the organization to submit a justification for continuing to receive the grant fund. 

Amount of Assistance

Organizations approved for funding will receive no more than 10 percent of their previous year’s total operating income, less Commission support, commissions to artists, facility rental income for non-arts activities, money paid to the organization for out-of-state trips or tours by the people taking the trips or tours, money raised for capital purposes in the previous year, and endowment income. Most organizations will receive less than the maximum, and no organization is guaranteed a specific funding amount. Minimum grant awards will be $2,500 per year; maximum grant awards will be $100,000 per year. 

Criteria for Evaluating Applications

  • Artistic Excellence 
  • Operational Excellence 
  • Community Engagement  

Artistic Excellence is the first standard of review. What constitutes artistic excellence may vary in relation to the organization’s mission, goals, audiences, and activities. The organization must demonstrate high-quality activities that achieve a distinct artistic vision consistent with the applicant’s mission and goals. The Commission supports organizations with a wide variety of artistic programs, including both the preservation of artistic heritage and the presentation of new works and new artists. 

Operational Excellence is measured by the organization’s capacity to effectively manage its operations and resources as reflected by organizational stability and fiscal position. The organization has a board-approved strategic planning process that shows evidence that it is maximizing opportunities to generate diversified income. The organization has a strong board composition, staff qualifications, and clearly articulated roles and responsibilities for each. 

Community Engagement includes efforts to expand the applicant’s reach to new and diverse audiences. Community impact strives to make the arts a vital part of community life, including those who are underserved, under-resourced, or under-represented. The grantee also complies with ADA-accessibility mandates.  


Organizations with annual income over $750,000 (for the previous two consecutive years) must submit an opinioned, audited financial statement from the most recently completed fiscal or calendar year. If the audit is not complete by the grant deadline, upload a board-approved Profit and Loss Statement from the most recently completed fiscal or calendar year. Your organization will be required to submit an audit prior to the panel meeting.  

Application/Review/Payment Procedure

  1. Applicants submit the information requested by the Commission each year. The Commission staff is available for consultation on applications, and to review drafts of applications if received at least four weeks before the deadline.
  2. The Commission staff reviews each application for completeness and eligibility. Incomplete or ineligible applications will not be reviewed and will be returned to the applicant with an explanation. 
  3. Applications are made available to the members of the panel electronically.
  4. The panelists independently review each application prior to the panel meeting.
  5. The panel meets with two members of the Commission staff. Commissioners attend panel meetings as silent observers. Applicant representatives may attend the panel meeting as observers but may not address the panel. The panel makes its recommendations after a group discussion. Names of Commissioners and advisory panelists, as well as dates and locations of Commission and panel meetings, are made available through the Commission office and on the Commission website.  
  6. The Commission Board then reviews the recommendations of the staff and takes final action on the applications.
  7. Applicants are notified of Commission action by email in late June.
  8. The Commission will generally pay 85 percent of each year’s grant amount by August 15. The final 15 percent will be paid within 30 days after the Commission receives the final report on the grant. The Commission reserves the right to use an alternative payment schedule in special circumstances. Final reports must be submitted after the completion of all funded activities or by June 1 at the latest.