What is a Catalyst Mission grant?

ArtsKC Grants are investments in people, programs and projects that make the arts more accessible, that sustain a vibrant and thriving arts community, and that support traditions of excellence as well as innovation and entrepreneurship in the arts. ArtsKC Grants support visual, dance, music, theater, poetry, and interdisciplinary art. These are competitive grants.

Catalyst Mission Grants are general operating support for nonprofit arts organizations with the arts as their primary purpose. Catalyst Mission funding is unrestricted. Further eligibility is detailed below.

Catalyst Mission grants reach a broad range of arts organizations. For a list of recent recipients, click here.

Catalyst Mission Grant Application Information for 2020-2021

  • Deadline to apply: Monday, September 14, 2020, at 11:45 PM

We highly recommend that you review all the information on this page before you apply, whether or not you have applied before. For further questions, please contact Grants Manager Heather Beffa, at Beffa@ArtsKC.org.

Timeline & Deadlines


Application Form Previews and Draft Applications




Catalyst Mission Grant Committee Members

Grant System Link and Instructional Video

General Grant Application Advice

A Letter from the Grants Manager

Timeline & Deadlines

Catalyst Mission Support Grants, for non-profit organizations with the arts as their primary purpose.

  • Deadline to apply: Monday, September 14th, at 11:45 PM
  • Activity Dates supported by this year’s funding: July 1, 2020- June 30, 2021
  • Committee will meet in October 2020, emailing any questions to applicants with time to respond. Not all applicants will be sent questions. Panel Days will not be held this year.
  • Grant Decision Announcements will be made in late October 2020
  • Final Reports are due by June 30, 2021, at 11:45 PM


To be eligible for funding in the Catalyst Mission category, an organization must:

  • Be a registered not-for-profit arts organization
  • Be principally located in the five-county Kansas City metropolitan area (Clay, Jackson, Johnson, Platte, Wyandotte)
  • Have a governing body with bylaws
  • Be founded before 2018 (thus, have at least two years of financial records and established history of programming)
  • Provide matching funds for funded projects and activities

Organizations may submit one grant application to ArtsKC per year. Organizations may not apply for Inspiration Grant funding, which are for individual artists.

ArtsKC funding is meant to support public-facing and publicly accessible programming. For educational institutions, ArtsKC funding should be for community programs and any other public-facing programs, not for academic degree-granting programs with tuition. In these cases, please supply a separate budget that clearly breaks out revenues and expenses for programs that serve the general public.

For organizations that have received a grant from ArtsKC in the past, Final Reports must be submitted and accepted before applying again.

Application Form Previews and Draft Applications

Catalyst Mission Grant Applications are submitted online using the ArtsKC Grant System.  You can preview and download the online application form here:

Application form – Catalyst Mission Grant 20-21 – PREVIEW

If you have applied before, log in to your existing account in the ArtsKC Grant System and click on the “Apply” link to start a new application. Use the “Forgot Your Password?” link if you don’t remember what your password is.  When you return to work on a saved application, be sure to look for your previously started form!

If you have not applied before, when you go to the ArtsKC Grant System, click on the “Create New Account” button, and follow the directions there.  If you are a new user but your organization has applied for ArtsKC funding before, email Beffa@ArtsKC.org to help set up your user profile.

If you need assistance with the online application process, please see this video.

Draft Applications

Draft applications may be submitted for review by staff.  This step is strongly encouraged for new applicants. Draft applications do not require a full set of attachments or support materials to be reviewed and should be completed via the online grants system. Once the application has been completed for a draft review, email the ArtsKC Grants staff to say that the application is ready for draft review. ArtsKC staff will review applications in the order they are submitted and will provide timely feedback to the applicant. Applicants will be able to make changes directly in the application without having to start the application over. Draft applications must be submitted 30 days before the application deadline in order to allow time for staff to review it.


ArtsKC committees review Catalyst grants competitively. There will be two separate committees; one for Catalyst Mission and one for Catalyst Project.

Committee Members are selected for their artistic knowledge and experience, awareness of community needs and issues, and other contributing factors.  Each application will be reviewed online and discussed by the committee in person. Applicants may be emailed questions regarding the application. Not all applicants will be sent questions. The committee will consider:

  • Artistic Excellence
  • Community Impact
  • Audience and Reach
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Accessibility
  • Financial and Operational Management
  • Need
  • The application in comparison to all other applications in the competitive process
  • Other factors that may be determined by the committee and the ArtsKC Board of Directors

Grant committees make a set of recommendations for funding that is presented to the ArtsKC Board of Directors for official approval.

Here’s a preview of the evaluation form used by our committee members:
Evaluation form – Catalyst Mission Grant 20-21


Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000. The amount of the request should be no more than 10% of the total operating expenses of your most recent fiscal year. Exceptions to this policy may be made under special circumstances for organizations with previous year revenues of less than $10,000. Catalyst budgets must be balanced and show matching funds of at least one to one for the ArtsKC request. Due to the high number of worthy requests received, most grants are less than $5,000.

Catalyst grants are paid in two payments. The grant recipient must return a signed grant agreement and W-9 in order to receive the first payment of 75%. To receive the second payment of 25%, the grantee must turn in a Final Report, which must be approved by ArtsKC. Please allow two weeks after submitting grant agreements and final reports to process checks.

In 2019-2020, we awarded 31 Catalyst Mission grants totaling $68,939. The average grant amount was $2,280.00. 59% of applicants in this category received a grant of any amount.


Timely Paperwork and Documentation, Acknowledgement, and Communicate Changes

Timely Paperwork and Documentation

To accept a grant, you must return your signed Grant Agreement Letter and W-9 within 15 business days of the notice, or you will forfeit your entire grant award.

You are required to submit a Final Report by the deadline, or you will forfeit your final payment. We understand that it may become necessary to request a reasonable extension. Please do so by contacting ArtsKC well before the deadline to ensure timely processing of your request. In the event that you forfeit your final payment and do not turn in a late Final Report, you will become ineligible to apply for ArtsKC grants. Ineligibility can be reversed by the submission of an acceptable Final Report.

Here are previews of the Final Report forms, which are filled out and submitted in the online grants system:

Final Report form for Catalyst Mission Support


During the duration of your active status as a Catalyst grant recipient, we ask that you recognize ArtsKC publicly in your promotional materials and programs in a manner consistent with your policy of acknowledging other donors. Please recognize ArtsKC by name, and use the “ArtsKC Supported” logo, which is available on our website. As part of this agreement, ArtsKC respectfully requests to use your organization’s name and any photos you are willing to provide in our promotional materials and online.

Communicate Changes

Please notify ArtsKC staff in writing of any major changes in leadership, programs or operations as described in your grant application. Updates to contact information are also necessary to stay in contact and to mail checks to the appropriate address.

Final note: You do not have to accept grants. If you have been awarded a grant and would like to turn it down or return it because of a change in plans or for any other reason, please notify ArtsKC Grant Staff immediately.

Catalyst Mission Grant Committee Members

Committee Members are selected for their artistic knowledge and experience, awareness of community needs and issues, and other contributing factors. An ArtsKC Board Member leads each committee. All committee members are local volunteers. Read more here.

Grant System Link and Instructional Video

How to use our Online Grants system (4 minutes long): Foundant Applicant Video

General Grant Application Advice

  1. Start Early!
  1. Choose appropriate grant category / opportunity

Are you eligible?

Will the timing work?

Is the potential grant amount useful to you?

  1. Look at the Application form and estimate the amount of time it will take to fill out
  1. Write a brief paragraph of your project, to get started

Include the basic Who, What, Where, When, Why and How details

Review your paragraph and start making a list of items you need

Notice what you’re missing – fee for an assistant, insurance /liability, etc.

Consider what you could remove, or do without, in case your project is not fully funded, or in order to make your project more feasible

  1. Begin filling out the application form. The form may help shape your project.
  1. The most important parts of any grant application, which should tell the same story, or match:

Project Description – should have all the information except dollar amounts

Budget- should have dollar amounts for all the items mentioned or needed in the Project Description, with no surprises or new items that are more than $50, or at a very low threshold

-should have two sections: Revenue & Expenses, or Income & Expenses, that total the same amount

  1. Write clearly, respectfully, and be persuasive.
  1. Review your application before submitting it! Make sure your attachments don’t have a formatting problem, or that they didn’t attach at all. Ask a friend or colleague if they understand it, and better yet, if they would fund it.
  1. Turn in your application ON TIME or EARLY.
  1. Make sure you include the most up-to-date Contact Information, and if it changes, UPDATE the funder immediately.
  1. If your application is Denied, don’t be discouraged about your project. Also, if your application is denied, try not to take it personally, and remember that you took part in a competitive process. Ask the funder if they would recommend applying with them again, or if they can offer referrals to other funding sources that may help.
  1. If your application is Approved, thank the funder, and watch for communication about follow-up steps. Your funder may prefer that you wait to announce your grant award publicly until after their own announcement, for example.
  1. Grants come with some strings – agreement forms, final reports, logo and funder name recognition, etc.
  2. Turn in agreement forms and any other paperwork as soon as possible to receive first payments
  3. Document your project and any changes as you go along, for the Final Report (and yourself)
  4. Note Final Report dates on your calendar and meet the deadline to receive final payments
  5. Make sure to recognize your funder in the manner they request
  1. Remember that Applying for Grants is a skill that improves with practice. Remember that because most grant processes are competitive, even good projects with great applications are not always funded. It’s best to plan a project that has multiple funding sources just in case: grants, in-kind donations, fundraising efforts like events, crowdfunding, private donations, and personal investment.

A Letter from the Grants Manager

Dear Potential Applicants,

ArtsKC is excited to be providing grants in FY21! Your organization may be eligible for both grants, or only for one. Either way, you can only apply for one organization grant a year.

Grantmaking Program Updates
We are dedicated to continuously improving our grantmaking program in order to serve the community. Two years ago, we added questions that asked about Fiscal Sponsorship details (if applicable) and your Diversity Statements. These questions proved useful, and are included again this year.

Last year, we focused on improving representation and transparency. We asked you to choose the predominant art type of your organization or program. We asked for a short summary and image for representation if your application was chosen for a grant. These additions helped us ensure that we are serving all of the major art forms in our area and that we represent our grantees in the manner that they prefer. We also added data about the previous year of funding and previews of forms on our website to increase transparency. This year, I remain dedicated to accurate representation, transparency, feedback- and I am especially focused on streamlining the program.

Form updates
We thoroughly reviewed our application forms to make sure we are gathering relevant information in as few questions as possible. Some questions were eliminated; others were combined or rewritten for clarity. We added a few new notable questions and improvements:

  • Need-related questions – about the circumstances of your organization, and the impact of COVID-19
  • 990s –include the first page
  • Board Demographics now asks for both Board and Staff Demographics
  • Method of Collecting Demographics
  • File uploads – increased file size from 1 MB to 3 MB
  • Overall, the application forms are shorter than last year

We thoroughly reviewed our evaluation forms. We added:

  • Need-related evaluation question and scoring
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion-related evaluation question and scoring

General Operating Support update
In the past, our Ovation and Catalyst Mission Grants have been our General Operating Support grants for arts organizations. This is the final year of Ovation grants. Next year we will still offer General Operating Support grants in Catalyst Mission groups 1 and 2, divided by budget size. We’re asking for the first page of your 990 form in our applications this year to learn about budget sizes in a consistent format, and to establish the budget ranges for groups 1 and 2. Both groups will be considered on a competitive basis. Funding amounts for each group will be very similar to one another. We know that General Operating support grantmaking has a very positive impact on organizations.

Project Support – special funding within a category
We will provide our Catalyst Project grant funding as usual, with a related opportunity within the category. Our Catalyst Project category welcomes a wide variety of proposals for funding that is restricted to arts projects and programs. Our Project funding supports arts projects that serve a broad diversity of people, and some projects are sometimes focused on particular age groups. With this in mind, ArtsKC has designated funding from The David T Beals III Community Fund for Arts Education to Catalyst Project this year. Grants are expected to be similar in size to other Catalyst Project grants, with the same rules for amounts. The David T Beals III Community Fund for Arts Education-specific funding is restricted to projects that are 100% for K-12 participants with the following parameters and goals:

  • 100% for K-12 participants from a public school, although the project can be virtual or otherwise take place off of school grounds
  • Defined collaboration / partnership between the arts organization and a school district or school
  • Tracks outcomes: gains in creativity and creative thinking, better behavior, higher levels of engagement, and an ability to reach students regardless of ability level

If you would like to be considered for this funding, look for this area in the Catalyst Project grant application.

Individual Artist Grant Update

ArtsKC offers grants to individual artists with our Inspiration Grant, and with Rocket Relief. The Inspiration Grant is for ambitious projects by individual artists or small groups of artists. The Rocket Relief Grant is an emergency grant for individual artists impacted by COVID-19. ArtsKC is working with Charlotte Street Foundation, Spencer Museum of Art, and the Andy Warhol Foundation in addition to other partners to provide Rocket Relief Grants.  We are very proud to offer this support.

In response to several questions, I must clarify: nonprofit organizations are not eligible for the Inspiration Grant or the Rocket Relief Grant. Individuals may apply to either of these grants in reference to their own art practice, but not as representatives on behalf of a nonprofit organization. This eligibility standard helps ensure that there is funding for individual artists in our region. If you are interested in sharing these opportunities with artists in your network, please let me know.

If your application is not among those chosen for a grant, you will receive a notification email with a link to set up a Feedback Meeting that will fit your schedule. We can go over feedback and suggestions from the grant committee that may strengthen applications in the future. Often, applications are not chosen for a grant due to high competition and a finite amount of funds.
We welcome your feedback about our grantmaking program. We added a post-application survey through which you can send us suggestions for improvement.

It is a great honor to work with you. Please email or call me if you have any questions.

My best wishes to all of you,
Heather Beffa, Program Manager, Grants
Beffa@ArtsKC.org, (816)994-9237