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National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs

The Pension Building, home of NCACA grant recipient, the National Building Museum, and the Commission of Fine Arts.

The Commission of Fine Arts administers the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs (NCACA) program. The U.S. Congress authorized in Public Law 99-190, as amended, the NCACA grant program to support artistic and cultural programs in the District of Columbia. Its purpose is to provide grants for general operating support to organizations whose primary mission is performing, exhibiting, and/or presenting the arts.

Approved by Congress on 19 December 1985, the NCACA program was initially administered through the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1987, administrative responsibility was transferred to the Commission of Fine Arts. Recipients of past NCACA grants include such institutions as the National Building Museum, Arena Stage, the Phillips Collection and the National Symphony Orchestra.

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Eligibility to Apply

To be eligible for a grant from the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program, an organization must be designated in 20 U.S.C. § 956a or 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, theatre, 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; and

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.

6. Organizations which receive more than 50 percent of their annual budgets from direct line-item federal appropriations and/or other government funding shall not be eligible for grants under this program. Organizations affiliated with institutions which receive more than 50 percent of their annual budgets from direct line-item federal appropriations and/or other government funding shall also not be deemed eligible.

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Grant Amounts

The NCACA program is authorized not to exceed $9,500,000 annually. For example in Federal Fiscal Year 2010, $9,500,000 was appropriated for the grant program and that entire amount was awarded to 24 organizations through a formula process. Grant awards are based on 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, compared to the combined total of the annual income, exclusive of federal funds, of all eligible organizations submitting applications. However, no organization will receive a grant larger than $650,000 and no grant may exceed 25 percent of an institution's annual income budget.

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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).

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Requests for Applications

Requests for applications must be submitted in writing and received before 31 December. Requests should be addressed to:

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

Application packages will be mailed in the first full week of January.

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Application Timetable

Completed applications must be received no later than 1 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.

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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 Assistant Secretary at the above address or by calling (202) 504-2200.

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Last Modified: June 24, 2010