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National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs

Left: Ford's Theatre production of Fly; center: Phillips Collection, Sant Building; right: Washington Ballet production of Sueno de Marmol.

The National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program supports larger arts institutions in Washington, D.C. Left: Ford’s Theatre production of Fly by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan, 2012; center: Exhibit gallery in the Sant Building of The Phillips Collection, 2006; right: Washington Ballet production of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sueno de Marmol from ¡Noche Latina!, 2010. (Image credits: left: Scott Suchman; center: Robert Lautman, courtesy of The Phillips Collection; right: Brianne Bland for The Washington Ballet.)

The National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs (NCACA) grant program (Public Law 99-190, as amended, 20 USC 956a) supports larger artistic and cultural institutions operating in the District of Columbia. NCACA grants are intended to provide general operating support to organizations whose primary mission is performing, exhibiting, and/or presenting the arts operating principally in Washington, DC. Recipients of past NCACA grants include such institutions as the Arena Stage, the National Building Museum, the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the Phillips Collection. The program is not intended to support organizations that receive substantial federal support.

Eligibility to Apply

To be eligible for a grant from the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program, applicants must satisfy all the following criteria:

  1. The organization must have its principal place of business in the District of Columbia and in a facility or facilities located in the District of Columbia;
  2. The organization must be engaged primarily in performing, exhibiting and/or presenting the arts:
    • Performing is the public presentation before a live audience of dance, theater, opera, music and related forms.
    • Exhibiting is the public display to a live audience of the visual arts, including, but not limited to painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper, textiles, crafts, cultural artifacts, and media arts.
    • Presenting is the programming and/or presentation of Performing or Exhibiting as defined above;
  3. The organization must devote at least 51 percent of its annual budget to performing, exhibiting and/or presenting the arts at the professional level in the District of Columbia, and must have been located in the District of Columbia for at least ten years;
  4. The organization must be a not-for-profit, non-academic institution of demonstrated national repute;
  5. The organization must have an annual income, exclusive of federal or pass-through federal funds, in excess of $1 million for each of the three years prior to the year of application; and
  6. The organization must not receive more than 50 percent of its annual budget from direct line-item federal appropriations and/or other government funding. Organizations affiliated with institutions that receive more than 50 percent of their annual budgets from direct line-item federal appropriations and/or other government funding shall also be deemed not eligible.

Grant Amounts

The NCACA grant program is funded by direct appropriation from Congress. Since the late 1980s, the program has been funded each year at between two and ten million dollars, and the awards are distributed according to the following formula: 70 percent will be distributed equally among all eligible organizations submitting applications; the remaining 30 percent will be distributed based on the amount of the organization's total annual income, exclusive of federal funds, when compared to the combined total of the annual income, exclusive of federal funds, of all eligible organizations submitting applications. No organization may receive a grant larger than $650,000 and no grant may exceed 25 percent of an institution’s annual income budget.

Grant Period

The grant period is from October 1 through September 30 of the following year (corresponding to the schedule of the federal fiscal year).

Requests for Applications

Requests for applications must be submitted in writing and received before 31 December. Application packages will be mailed in the first full week of January. Requests should be addressed to:

NCACA Program
U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
401 F Street, NW, Suite 312
Washington, D.C. 20001-2728

Application Timetable

Completed applications must be received no later than the first Monday in March. Depending on availability of funds, grants are to be awarded no earlier than 30 April, or 30 days from the date of enactment of the appropriation legislation.

Review of Applications

Applications will be reviewed by a panel consisting of the chairmen of the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The panel will verify the eligibility of applicant organizations to receive grants, based on the program's legislated eligibility criteria.

For more additional information, contact the Commission of Fine Arts staff at the above address or by calling (202) 504-2200.

Grant Recipients