Process and Policies

The following information applies to grant applications for the General Operating Support program, Arts in Education, Major Arts Partners and the Collaborative Project Support program.

Click HERE to download a copy of the Standard Definitions for Grant Guidelines.


Under these guidelines, funding for organizations is not available for:

  • Deficits or start-up costs for new organizations
  • Contingency funds
  • Contributions and donations to other organizations or individuals
  • Building renovations or capital expenditures for facilities
  • Entertainment expenses, including buses for field trips, tickets to performances, or refreshments
  • Tuition for academic study or any form of scholarship or student financial aid
  • Faculty salaries, and additionally, staff salaries in Arts in Education grants
  • Lobbying expenses
  • Interest and other financial costs


Prior to the beginning of the grant cycle each year, the Arkansas Arts Council approves grant categories, policies, and review procedures. The Arkansas Arts Council uses a review process at the time of application to determine grant recommendations. All panel recommendations are then presented to the Council for review and are voted on at the annual funding meeting to determine final grant amounts. Grant award payment schedules are set up relative to the activity periods outlined in the approved grant applications.


Review panels are composed of Arkansas Arts Council members and field representatives. Arts Council panelists are chosen from members who have expressed an interest in reviewing a particular grant category. Arts Council members serve on panels as ex-officio advisors to facilitate the review process and to provide insight and historical perspective.

Field representatives are chosen from a pool of nominations consisting of former panelists, academicians, arts administrators, and discipline specialists. Staff members select panelists from the pool based on consideration of geographic proximity, artistic qualifications, racial/gender diversity, and availability. The executive director of the agency approves final panel selections. Each panelist completes a conflict of interest statement prior to the application review and does not participate in any application review where a potential conflict may exist.


Applicants must submit a complete application package as outlined in the FY18 online guides to grants no later than the stated application deadline for a particular grant program.

Once an organization submits its application package, the Arkansas Arts Council staff checks the submission for lateness and technical completeness. Any question of application eligibility is resolved at that time.

Questions on costs submitted for ineligible projected budget line items or for a projected budget surplus or deficit will be resolved before the application goes on to panel review.

Each panelist receives copies of every application in a specific grant category for analysis prior to the scheduled panel review. A signed copy of each submitted application is available in the Arkansas Arts Council office for review.


Representatives of the applicant organizations are encouraged, but not required, to listen the panel review to answer questions that panelists may have, and to utilize the review comments as a management tool.


Procedural rules are stated prior to the beginning of the panel discussions to ensure that all panelists understand their responsibilities. The panel chair, facilitated by staff, is responsible for enforcing procedural rules.

The discussion for each application is limited to the amount of time agreed upon in advance of the reviews. A timekeeper will monitor the time and notify the chair when the time limit has been reached.

The panel chair introduces each application to the panel. The staff facilitator presents comments on technical aspects of the application based on the information submitted.

The panel then discusses and evaluates the information in each application narrative relative to established criteria. Official representatives of an applicant organization will only be given the chance to answer specific questions addressed to them by the panel during its discussion of the application narrative. The relevance of information presented will be monitored by the panel chair.


Each panel discussion is recorded and a staff member takes separate notes based on the panelists’ comments. These notes are read back, and the panelists agree upon a consensus statement that serves as a formal evaluation of the application.

Each panelist uses a review sheet listing the criteria established by the Council to record a numerical score and comments. The completed panelist review sheets are signed, dated, and submitted to the Council staff for processing.

After the individual discussions are completed, the staff calculates two lists of application rankings based on an average of the field panelists’ scores and an average of the Council member panelists’ scores. The panel then compares the two averages, with further discussion held on any application with significant score discrepancies.

The average of the field panelists’ scores is given precedence in determining the panel’s recommendation to the Arkansas Arts Council. If panel agreement on a final score cannot be reached, the matter will be forwarded to the full Arts Council for discussion.

All panel scores are reported to the Arkansas Arts Council. Review sheets are kept on file in the Arts Council office.


Applicants should remember that the final amount of funding awarded for each grant application is determined at the annual funding meeting of the Arkansas Arts Council.

Each year the Council approves funding priorities for each grant category based on available funds. Arts in Education, Major Arts Partners AIE, and Collaborative Project Support are reviewed based on panel recommendations. General Operating Support and MAP GOS Year 2 and 3 are reviewed for funding before GOS and MAP GOS Year 1 panel reviewed applications. 

The applicant’s request amount adjusted for ineligible items and the panel’s numerical score provides the basic grant amount eligible for each applicant. The Arkansas Arts Council staff factors the basic eligible amount by available funds to determine the final grant amount recommended to the full Council.

The recommended amount is presented to the Arkansas Arts Council along with a prepared summary on each application review. A copy of this summary will be sent to each grant applicant after the annual funding meeting as part of the official announcement of the grant award.


Once the Arkansas Arts Council determines the awards at the annual funding meeting, an applicant may request reconsideration of a decision. A request for reconsideration may be made if the applicant can demonstrate any of the following:

  • The review of its application narrative and budget statistics was based on criteria other than those appearing in the Arts Council's guidelines
  • The final decision was unduly influenced by a panelist with undisclosed conflicts of interest
  • Required information submitted by the applicant was withheld from the review panel or the Arkansas Arts Council

Dissatisfaction with either the denial of an application or the amount of an award is not sufficient reason to request Arkansas Arts Council reconsideration.


To request reconsideration, an organization should consult with the appropriate program manager to review the factors that contributed to the Arkansas Arts Council’s decision.

If an applicant believes there are grounds for reconsideration, its representative must write a formal letter to the Arkansas Arts Council executive director requesting reconsideration within ten (10) working days of funding notification. The letter should contain evidence to support one or more of the listed grounds for reconsideration.

The request will be reviewed by members of the Arkansas Arts Council staff and by the executive committee of the Arkansas Arts Council. The executive committee may deny the request, or it may recommend a review by the full Arts Council at its next scheduled meeting.

The applicant will be notified in writing of any decision made by the executive committee and by the Arkansas Arts Council within 30 days of the decision.