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Creative Placemaking: Rural Arts Facilities Fund for Rural Communities in Tennessee


Creative Placemaking: Rural Arts Facilities Fund (RAFF) Funding for rural communities to help build, renovate, or expand arts and cultural facilities resulting in positive economic and community outcomes.

Donor Name: Tennessee Arts Commission

State: Tennessee

County: Selected Counties

Type of Grant: Grant

Deadline (mm/dd/yyyy): 02/15/2022

Size of the Grant: $20,000 – $100,000

Grant Duration: 11 months 15  days


Creative Placemaking: Rural Arts Facilities Fund (RAFF) grants are designed to help rural communities carry out initiatives that build, renovate, or expand arts and cultural facilities. Project applications must demonstrate a history and/or commitment to arts and cultural programming in the community, cross-sector community support, feasible plans for revenue generation and facility management, and sustainable long-term operational goals. Public investment in rural arts and cultural facilities can help rural communities in a number of ways, including, but not limited to, expansion of arts and cultural opportunities for underserved audiences, job creation, tourism development, enhanced creative learning opportunities, as well as strengthening a community’s distinctive identity and quality of life.

The Tennessee Arts Commission is committed to advancing the arts as a driver of the creative economy and creative placemaking, as well as accelerating transformation of rural areas through the nonprofit arts and creative sector. The RAFF grant program builds upon work accomplished through the Creative Placemaking grant program and Tennessee Stages programs. Creative Placemaking grants provide funding for arts projects that enhance the distinctive local character of Tennessee places for positive economic and community outcomes. Many Creative Placemaking grants projects have helped renovate or enhance rural arts facilities.

With Tennessee Stages, the Commission created a searchable online database of performing arts stages across the state to help communities in all 95 counties increase capacity for providing arts experiences to their citizens. In addition to serving as a mapping tool and a block-booking resource for Tennessee’s performing arts industry, the project draws attention to the value and scope of these important assets, especially those in rural communities which may be underutilized.

Funding Information

Applicants may request from $20,000 to $100,000 for projects that build, renovate, restore, preserve, or enhance rural arts facilities, including performing arts centers, art museums and galleries, multi-purpose arts centers, amphitheaters, and mobile stages. (Please note that applications targeting outdoor arts facilities must demonstrate that the proposed project will maintain or increase regular arts and cultural programming.)

RAFF grants do not require a dollar-for-dollar match; however, applicants are asked to show all project related expenses and income in their application budget.

Funding will depend upon an application’s rating from the review process and the total amount of funds available to the Tennessee Arts Commission for grant allocation. This grant category is competitive. In addition to merit ratings, the Commission seeks a diversity of project designs, locations and community settings across Tennessee for RAFF projects. Priority will be given to applications from organizations in distressed and at-risk counties.

For Projects Occurring

FY2023: July 1, 2022-June 15, 2023

Eligible Applicants

An applicant is eligible to apply if the organization is located one of Tennessee’s Rural Counties and meets one of the following qualifications:

  • The organization is an entity of local government.
  • The applicant is a nonprofit arts organization legally chartered in Tennessee and in possession of a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service declaring the organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Schools, colleges, and universities are ineligible to apply.

RAFF utilizes a combined rural designation defined by the Governor’s Rural Task Force as well as the designation for rural used by the Commission’s Rural Arts Project Support and Small Rural Partnership Support grant programs.

Applicants must possess one of the following:

  • The deed to the land and/or facility for which RAFF grant funding is being requested.
  • Long-term lease that stipulates that the property must be operated as an arts facility.
  • Documentation that the facility is subject to a legally binding local resolution, ordinance, memorandum of understanding, or contract stipulating the facility’s operation as an arts and cultural facility.
  • Document history of community arts and cultural programming at the project site.

Debarment and Suspension. Grantees are required to sign contracts certifying to the best of its knowledge and belief, that it, its current and future principals, its current and future subcontractors and their principals are not presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from covered transactions by any federal or state department or agency.

Examples of eligible projects or activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Architectural or design plans for new buildings, expansions, or adaptive re-use of existing facilities.
  • Cultural facilities improvements, including essential technology updates, equipment purchases, and infrastructure upgrades for presenting, producing, exhibiting, and/or preserving arts and cultural assets.
  • Stage renovation or enhancement (improvements to sound, lighting, climate control, seating, stage curtains, green rooms).
  • Capital improvements that increase accessibility to arts programming for persons with disabilities and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If an applicant is carrying out a large capital project that will not be finished in its entirety by June 15, 2023, the applicant may apply for support for a single component or phase of that project.

For more information, visit Creative Placemaking: Rural Arts Facilities Fund.

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