UMEZ Arts Engagement is a new grant program launched in December 2017 to enhance the diversity and frequency of arts and cultural presentations in Upper Manhattan. The program provides direct support for these activities to Upper Manhattan’s artists and nonprofit arts organizations under the guiding principle that support for artists of diverse disciplines, practices, cultural backgrounds, and career stages contributes to the vibrancy and sustainability of the communities in which they live and work. UMEZ Arts Engagement invites proposals from artists and arts organizations that are 1) based in Upper Manhattan and 2) presenting arts projects or programming in Upper Manhattan between July 1–December 31, 2018.
Program funding is provided by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ).
Featured image: Courtesy of Statement Arts, Manhattan Arts Grants 2014-2016 Grantee. Photo credit: Ari Espay.
UMEZ Arts Engagement 2018 Application is now closed. Selected Grantees will be notified in May.
Download a printable pdf of the guidelines HERE.
UMEZ Arts Engagement is a new grant program launched in December 2017 to enhance the diversity and frequency of arts and cultural presentations in Upper Manhattan. The program provides direct support for these activities to Upper Manhattan’s artists and nonprofit arts organizations under the guiding principle that support for artists of diverse disciplines, practices, cultural backgrounds, and career stages contributes to the vibrancy and sustainability of the communities in which they live and work.
Upper Manhattan is home to a remarkable concentration of artists and arts organizations representing multiple art forms, traditions, and aesthetics – including one of the largest concentrations of culturally-specific groups in the country. With this in mind, UMEZ Arts Engagement invites proposals from artists and arts organizations that are 1) based in Upper Manhattan and 2) presenting arts projects or programming in Upper Manhattan, making their work more widely available to the public. The program encourages effective and innovative approaches to engaging audiences that build on projects and programming with strong artistry at their core.
Program funding is provided by the Cultural Investments Fund (CIF) of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ). Since 1996, UMEZ has invested more than $55 million in nonprofit organizations with a focus on cultural institutions to spur the growth of Upper Manhattan’s cultural and economic landscape. The launch of UMEZ Arts Engagement marks the first time UMEZ is able to provide an accessible source of project-based funding for individual artists and smaller nonprofit arts organizations that were previously ineligible to access UMEZ funding. UMEZ Arts Engagement is administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).
UMEZ Arts Engagement will award grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to support public-facing arts projects or programming taking place in Upper Manhattan. This area is defined as north of 98th Street on the east side of Fifth Avenue; and north of 110th Street on the west side. Funding is available for projects in the performing, literary, media, and visual arts, ranging from folk/traditional forms to contemporary and socially-engaged artistic practices. LMCC encourages proposals that connect audiences to rich arts experiences as demonstrated by opportunities to attend and/or participate in arts events and programming including concerts, performances, public art, exhibitions, screenings, festivals, readings, and more.
UMEZ Arts Engagement strongly supports the payment of artist fees, recognizing that in order for communities to benefit most from artistry, artists must thrive. The program is accompanied by technical assistance to applicants, and networking and promotional opportunities for funded projects. Competitive projects will demonstrate strong artistic merit, thoughtful project planning, and clear and feasible plans to reach the public.
See Applicant Eligibility for specific eligibility requirements.
There will be two UMEZ Arts Engagement application deadlines in 2018. Applicants may apply in both cycles, but may only apply for one project per cycle.
UMEZ Arts Engagement for 2018 Projects:
Application Deadline: March 13, 2018 at 5pm
For projects that will take place between July 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018.
UMEZ Arts Engagement for 2019 Projects*
Application Deadline: September 11, 2018 at 5pm
For projects that will take place between January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.
*Application will be live in June 2018.
UMEZ Arts Engagement supports nonprofit arts organizations that meet the following Eligibility Requirements:
- Organizations must be based in Upper Manhattan, which has a defined catchment area north of 98th Street on the east side of Fifth Avenue; and north of 110th Street on the west side.
- Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with proof of nonprofit status.
- Organizations must have a principal artistic and cultural mission.
- Organizations must have carried out or participated in publicly accessible arts programming in 2 of the last 4 years.
- Organizations must have operating budgets under $750,000 for two of the last three completed fiscal years.
- Organizations may not have received funds from or have a pending application with UMEZ for a grant for the same fiscal year.
- Applicants are required to attend an information session before applying. For dates, locations, and to RSVP, scroll down to the INFORMATION SESSIONS section.
Individual Artists and Collectives:
UMEZ Arts Engagement supports individual artists, as well as collectives, project-based collaborations, and unincorporated groups that meet the following Eligibility Requirements:
- Individual artists must reside in Upper Manhattan, which has a defined catchment area north of 98th Street on the east side of Fifth Avenue; and north of 110th Street on the west side.
- Individual artists must be fiscally sponsored by an organization that offers a formal fiscal sponsorship program (see About Fiscal Sponsorship).
- Individual artists must have carried out or participated in publicly accessible arts programming in 2 of the last 4 years.
- Collectives must designate a lead artist (director, or equivalent), who meets all eligibility requirements for individual artists, to apply as an individual on its behalf. Note: The lead artist must be the primary entity responsible for the application, as well as the grant, if awarded. Guest artists or temporary programming staff will not be considered a lead artist for the application.
- Individual artists may not apply or receive funds on behalf of any organization.
- First-time applicants are required to attend an information session before applying. For dates, locations, and to RSVP, scroll down to the INFORMATION SESSIONS section.
About Fiscal Sponsorship:
Individual artists and unincorporated groups or collectives must apply with a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must be an organization that offers a formal fiscal sponsorship program for artists with published submission requirements and clear contract terms for its sponsored projects. Fiscal sponsors must be based in New York City and preferably have an arts and culture focus.
See our Fiscal Sponsor Fact Sheet for a list of organizations in New York City that offer fiscal sponsorship programs for artists and arts projects. It is best to contact a provider directly about the specifics of their program. Please note additional documentation may be required if working with a fiscal sponsor not on this list.
Applications will be accepted for projects in any artistic discipline that meet the following requirements:
- Project must include a public component: an opportunity to access and engage with the arts that is promoted and available to the general public.
- Public activities of the project must be located in Upper Manhattan, which has a defined catchment area north of 98th Street on the east side of Fifth Avenue; and north of 110th Street on the west side.
- Project activities for applications submitted to the March 2018 deadline must take place between July 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
- Project activities for applications submitted to the September 2018 deadline must take place between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019.
- Project budget must show at least 25% of planned project income, in cash or in-kind contributions, from sources other than UMEZ Arts Engagement. Please see the FAQs and Project Budget Template for guidance in accurately calculating this percentage. Individual artists please note: self-funding is not considered income for the purposes of this program.
- All participating professional artists must be guaranteed a fee, indicated in the project budget.
- Applicants may not be a lead artist or key partner in more than one proposal to UMEZ Arts Engagement.
Under this program, funding is not available for:
- Projects restricted to any organization’s membership; eligible projects must be promoted and remain available to the general public.
- Public or private schools, colleges or universities, or religious institutions.
- Humanities projects or projects that primarily feature magic/illusionary, martial, or culinary arts.
- Projects that are primarily recreational, therapeutic, rehabilitative, or religious in nature including health and social service programs.
- Education projects, training or youth programs including arts education and creative aging projects. Please see LMCC’s Creative Learning grant program for support of arts education projects in a community-based setting.
- Projects that are intended to be experienced solely online.
- Street fairs or parades.
- Re-granting programs or offering fellowships or cash prizes.
- Work-in-progress showings solely for the development of new work.
- Professional arts training programs or projects primarily designed to support the creative development of artists.
- Requests that exceed an organization’s total budget.
- Payment for endowment and cash reserves, accumulated deficits, debt reductions, emergency funds, housing, facilities, purchase of capital equipment, funds to establish a new organization or non-project related administrative expenses.
- Entertainment costs, such as opening parties, receptions or fundraisers.
- Events that take place in private homes.
- Previous grantees of LMCC or UMEZ that have failed to comply with grant contract or reporting requirements.
Grantees of UMEZ Arts Engagement may receive funds for up to three consecutive years and then must take one year off from funding (effective 2021).
A jury of artists and arts professionals will review projects using the following four criteria:
- Artistic excellence, taking into consideration proposed personnel, project design, and audience experience.
- Clarity of project proposal.
- Project feasibility, taking into consideration budget, timeline, and capacity to achieve stated goals.
- Appropriateness of outreach and marketing plans to reach the intended audience(s).
The criteria are not listed in order of priority; each is equally important. Please make sure that your application materials, taken as a whole, address these criteria.
Applying to UMEZ Arts Engagement is a competitive process. Proposals should accurately describe the project, public activities, the target audience, the project’s anticipated impact, and any local partners or relationships in Upper Manhattan that you will draw on to support your work. Project budgets should be precise, reflect actual needs, and demonstrate the ability to raise funds from additional sources.
Applicants will be notified by email in May 2018 as to whether their projects have been funded. We encourage applicants and grantees to contact LMCC staff in the month following notification for a summary of jury comments and feedback on their applications.
2018 Grant Cycle Timeline
- Information sessions: January – February 2018
- Application deadline: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 5pm
- Jury review process: April 2018
- Applicant notification: May 2018
- Applicant feedback period: May – June 2018
- Grantee contracting: June 2018
- Grant payments: July 2018
- Grantee projects: July 1 – December 31 2018
- *2019 Timeline will be available in June 2018
The grant award is a contract for arts services; grantees are required to do the following during the grant period:
- Sign and return grant contract to LMCC.
- Include funding credit on all marketing and event materials, print and electronic.
- Submit an event notification form six weeks before funded public events take place to arrange for an LMCC and UMEZ representative to attend.
- Notify LMCC of any significant changes to proposed project activities, including schedule, key participants, project scope or budget, before these changes are finalized.
- Submit a final report, no later than 30 days after completion of all project activities.
Applications should be completed and submitted online before 5PM on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Follow these FOUR STEPS TO APPLY:
- Read the Program Guidelines and Online Application Form. Make sure that you and your project are eligible for consideration before you apply.
- Attend an Information Session. All applicants are required to attend an information session to be eligible to apply. RSVP for an information session below.
- Prepare Required Documents, Work Samples and Support Materials. Prepare digital versions to be submitted as part of the Online Application Form. If you have difficulty converting paper documents into digital formats, please contact LMCC staff for assistance. See below for details.
- Complete and submit Online Application Form. Create an account at Submittable.com. Your application will always be connected to your account. The main point of contact for your application should manage and maintain access to your Submittable account. Our staff will contact you with questions, follow-up information, and the official grant notification via emails generated by Submittable.
We strongly recommend that you view the Online Application Form and instructions in advance. Maintain a backup copy of your responses in a separate document off line and make sure to save unfinished applications before you exit the form. Complete and submit all components of your application online. Application forms are not considered final until submitted. Once you have submitted the form, you will not be able to make changes, or resubmit. You will receive a confirmation email when your application has been successfully submitted.
Work samples are an important element of your application. We encourage you to choose samples of completed artistic projects from within the last three years that best represent your artistic practice or project. LMCC uses a Mac computer and projector to play work samples. Please test your samples accordingly.
The aim of the work sample is to bring the jury as close as possible to an actual experience of the artistic work. Do not submit edited promotional or interview materials.
You will be asked to provide:
A. Work Sample Format – select which option you will be submitting
B. Work Sample Inventory – enter descriptions for each work sample
C. Work Samples – enter links or upload files
Work Sample Format
Based on the discipline or form of your project, select a format option and provide samples of past or current work by uploading or providing links directly in the Online Application Form.
Work Sample Format Options are as follows:
Option 1: 2 Audio/Video Recordings
Option 2: 10 Images (not appropriate for performing arts projects)
Option 3: 10-Page Manuscript (not appropriate for performing arts projects)
Option 4: 1 Audio/Video Recording and 5 Images
Option 5: 1 Audio/Video Recording and 5-Page Manuscript
Option 6: 5 Images and 5-Page Manuscript
Performing Arts, Film, Media And Other Time-Based Projects
Submit recordings: 2 maximum
Submit up to two (2) recordings of past/current works or projects in performing, media, music, film or other time-based art forms. UMEZ Arts Engagement accepts recordings in two formats:
- Online, links to video or audio samples hosted on one of the following external sites: YouTube.com, Vimeo.com, or SoundCloud.com.
- Provide these links in the Online Application Form with access passwords, if applicable.
- Samples should remain accessible online through June 2018.
- Do NOT submit personal website URLs containing embedded samples, or links to other online sites and platforms.
- CDs or DVDs, received by LMCC by the application deadline.
- Indicate in the Online Application Form that you are submitting CDs or DVDs and include track number.
- Submit your work samples disks to LMCC before the application deadline to the following address:
UMEZ Arts Engagement
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
125 Maiden Lane, Second Floor
New York, NY 10038
- Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if you want the samples to be returned. Samples with SASE will be returned by June 2018.
- Label your CD/DVD as “[applicant name]: Sample #”. Use a permanent marker. Do not use stickers on DVDs or CDs as these can jam equipment.
The selection jury will view each recording for up to 2.5 minutes. However, we encourage you to submit full-length work, if possible. Provide a cue point, which indicates the start time to play the sample during review, for any work sample that is longer than three (3) minutes total. Theater artists without video documentation should contact LMCC staff to discuss appropriate alternative work sample formats.
Visual Arts Projects
Upload images: 10 maximum
Submit a maximum of ten (10) digital images.
- Images must be saved as JPEG files, 800 pixels in the longest dimension, at 72dpi.
- Each image filename must be saved as: “LastName_FirstName_#”(e.g. Smith_John_01.jpg / Smith_John_02.jpg / etc.)
- During the selection process, images will be viewed by the jury one at a time as a projection. However, they can also be seen within the online application itself once submitted.
- Work Sample image files should be directly uploaded into the Online Application.
Upload manuscripts: 10 pages maximum
Submit up to (10) pages of script, poetry or prose. Applicants may provide any number of works totaling ten pages; however, the pages must be compiled into and submitted as one (1) document in PDF format.
The manuscript must be typed, double-spaced with 8 1/2” x 11” page formatting. The applicant’s name, title of the work, and a page number should appear on each page of the manuscript.
Proof of Public Programming
Public programming support materials are a required component of your application. Submit support materials that demonstrate your participation in public facing arts programs in at least 2 of the last 4 years. Examples include promotional materials, brochures, event listings, press clippings, programs, etc., related to these activities.
- Letter of Determination from the IRS indicating tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) with address in Upper Manhattan. If the address on the nonprofit documentation is a PO Box or shows an address that does not match the organization address in the application, provide additional proof of the organization’s physical address in Upper Manhattan.
- Board of directors and staff list.
- Financial statement for the most recently completed fiscal year (IRS Form 990 preferred). If the organization filed a 990N or IRS filing is not available for the most recently completed fiscal year, submit an itemized financial statement signed by the organization’s treasurer, bookkeeper, or accountant, or provide an audited statement if available. Please do not submit financials from prior fiscal years.
- Projected organizational budget for the fiscal year in which the proposed project will take place (i.e. FY18 or FY19).
Individual Artist(s) and Collectives: upload one (1) copy of each of the following items:
- Proof of Upper Manhattan address of the individual artist or lead artist of a collective. Upload one (1) copy of one (1) of the following:
a) Utility bill dated within the last 3 months (e.g. electricity, cable, gas, etc)
b) Valid driver’s license or IDNYC
If the proof of address shows a PO Box or shows an address that does not match the main point of contact address in the application, provide additional proof of the individual’s physical address in Upper Manhattan.
- Financial statement for a completed project you have managed, preferably of similar scale to the proposed project. Submit an itemized statement reflecting actual income and expenses from a relevant project, preferably completed within the last four years.
Fiscal Sponsor must also provide the following:
- Letter of commitment on the organization’s letterhead, signed by the Executive Director, or equivalent. The letter should confirm the following:
- The scope of the proposed project, demonstrating an overall understanding of the proposal
- Roles and responsibilities as fiscal sponsor
- Letter of Determination from the IRS indicating tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) with address in New York City. If the address on nonprofit documentation is a PO Box or shows an address that does not match the fiscal sponsor’s address in the application, provide additional proof of the fiscal sponsor’s physical address in New York City.
Attendance at a UMEZ Arts Engagement session is required for ALL applicants in order to be eligible. Sessions provide an overview of the program and review of the components of a well-prepared application. RSVP today!
- If applying as an individual artist on behalf of a collective, you must be present at the session; substitutes and proxies are not permitted.
- Nonprofit organizations must send a representative with an official role in the organization, preferably at the leadership level.
- Attendance at a Creative Engagement or Creative Learning session does not make you eligible.
Tuesday, January 23, 6:30PM at United Palace – RSVP
Thursday, February 8, 3PM at Hi-ARTS – RSVP
Tuesday, February 20, 6:30PM at Herbert Cave Auditorium at Harlem Hospital – RSVP
Spanish translation available at all sessions. Traducción en español disponible en todas las sesiones.
We thank our cultural partners for helping us bring information sessions to you.
El Barrio Artspace PS109
Harlem Arts Alliance
Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance
The Studio Museum in Harlem
If you have additional questions or technical issues please contact: UMAE@lmcc.net
You will be required to upload a Project Budget and Project Timeline in the application form. You must use LMCC’s templates for these uploads. The templates can be downloaded by clicking the links below. Once re-directed, click Download in the upper right hand corner. (A Dropbox account is not necessary to download this form).
Download the blank Project Timeline Template here.
Download the blank Project Budget Template here.