Operating Support Small: Small Arts Organizations | OSS

Operating Support Small: Small Arts Organizations | OSS

Operating Support Small: Small Arts Organizations | OSS

This grant program makes general operating support of $2,500 available to small, nonprofit arts organizations (with annual cash income of less than $150,000*), that have arts as the core of their mission, and provide public access to ongoing arts programs.    


To invest in arts organizations to advance their artistic excellence, operational excellence, and community engagement within their missions. The VCA serves as a partner by providing operating funds to continue, strengthen, and expand arts experiences that benefit Virginians.  


This grant program makes general operating support of $2,500 available to small, nonprofit arts organizations (with annual cash income of less than $150,000*), that have arts as the core of their mission, and provide public access to ongoing arts programs.    

Eligible Applicants

  • Meets the basic eligibility requirements as listed on page 9 of the Guidelines for Funding
  • Virginia organizations whose primary purpose is the arts (units of government, organizations using a fiscal agent, and educational institutions & their private companion foundations are not eligible for OSS) 
  • 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 two years of programming at the time of application 
  • Presents at least three different programs or services for the public each year 
  • Had a previous year’s cash income of at least $5,000, but no greater than $150,000
  • Presents activities in ADA-compliant facilities, 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 
  • Has no past-due Final Reports to the VCA at the time of application  

Additional Requirements

Educational Organizations & Festivals must meet additional requirements for funding in this category.  A checklist can be found in the Guidelines for Funding and is also included in the application.  

 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. 

Vocal, Musical, and Dance Ensembles that perform primarily pop, Broadway, or barbershop music, or that focus primarily on competitions are not eligible for OSS, but are eligible to apply for Community Impact Grants for the new or expanded initiative. 

Eligible Expenses

Funding from OSS 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…) 
  • Marketing or publicity of events/activities 
  • Personnel (salaries, benefits…) 
  • 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 

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, 2023 
  • Budget for the Year of the Grant 

Application Deadline

  • Applications are due by March 1, 2024, by 5:00 p.m. (EST), for expenses occurring between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025. 
  • The Commission awards all Operating Support for Small Organization (OSS) grants for a one-year period. Each grantee is required to submit an application annually.  

Reporting Requirements

If the grant is awarded, the organization must submit a 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, its artistic leadership, or its 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 funds.  

Amount of Assistance

Awards of $2,500.  

Payment Schedule

The Commission will generally pay 85 percent of each year’s grant amount by mid-August. 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. 

Criteria for Evaluating Applications

VCA staff reviews submitted applications for eligibility, completeness, and accuracy. Applications that meet program requirements are authorized, pending the availability of funds.

Review Criteria for OSS

The review of the OSS application is based on the successful submission of required support documents (see above) and answers to four narrative questions:  

  1. What is the organization’s mission statement and how does programming demonstrate artistic excellence and advance its mission? 
  2. Provide an overview of the organization’s primary arts activities/programming/services for the current year and the year of the grant.  
  3. Describe the geographic area and audiences/communities that will be supported by this funding. Highlight any underserved, under-resourced, and under-represented audiences/communities reached. 
  4. What is the intended impact of the organization’s arts activities/programming/services? (Include a clear, specific, and thorough explanation of how the organization’s planned activities/programming/services have and will impact its audiences/communities.  
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