Express Grants - FAQ

Please read the entire grant guidelines for your grant program prior to reviewing these FAQs. Many questions are answered in the guidelines, with additional clarification or examples provided here. If you cannot find the answer to your questions, please contact Nikki Estes.

This FAQ was last updated on February 14, 2023.

Express Grants are available to organizational applicants only. If you are an individual artist, please visit our Artist Grants & Fellowships page to learn more about individual artist opportunities.

Organization Eligibility

How do you define “rural communities”?
For the purposes of this grant program, rural communities are defined as having a population of 50,000 or below.

What is a presenter?
For the Express Grant program, a presenter is defined as an organization that presents or hosts guest artists for engagements in their community. Presenters can include but are not limited to community cultural organizations, community centers, churches, schools/colleges/universities, libraries, museums, film festivals/series, and performing arts centers. 

Are producing organizations or performing arts groups eligible?
Typically, a producing organization or performing arts group is not considered a presenter, even when a guest artist is contracted to perform with its company. Producing organizations and performing arts groups are strongly encouraged to contact South Arts to discuss eligibility.

Do you accept fiscal agents as applicants?
No, applicants must have their own not-for-profit, tax-exempt status or be an official unit of local, county or state government, or a federally recognized tribal community. Applications are accepted from any tribal community with not-for-profit, tax-exempt status.

If I received an Express Grant from the last cycle but the project has been postponed, can I still apply for an Express Grant during this cycle?
Yes, you can apply for a 2023-2024 Express Grant as long as it is for a different project. 

Budget, Cash Match, & Payments

What expenses do Express Grants support?
Express Grants can only be used to support the artist fee portion of your project budget.

Can you explain the cash match requirement?
Applicants must match our grant award by 100%. Example: If you receive a $3,000 grant, you must provide a cash match of $3,000. This means that you will pay the artist a minimum of $6,000.

Does the match have to be cash, or can it be in-kind?
The grant requires a cash match. Common sources of matching funds are contributions by individual donors or grants from private foundations, local/municipal arts organizations, and/or state arts agencies.

Is it correct that funds are not distributed until project completion?
Typically, grant funds are processed after the completion of the project and receipt of the Final Report Form. However, you can request an advance payment of up to 75% of your total grant amount.

Project Activities

If we don't have a fully executed contract by the due date, can we submit something else instead?
Yes, you can submit a letter of agreement or letter of intent. The letter must be signed by the applicant and the artist. Please include the artist’s activities (e.g., the public presentation, educational/community engagement component, other project activities), activity date(s), and the artist fee.

Can the educational component be virtual?
Yes, the educational component can be virtual, but there must be interaction between the guest artist and your local community. The virtual activity must include local participation. 

Does the educational/community engagement component have to be open to the public?
No, these activities can be for a target/invite-only audience or open to the public. We encourage applicants to design activities that will best aid them in engaging with their local community.

Could an Express Grant be part of developing a new work with a Southern artist as long as there is a public presentation?
Yes, the project can include the creation of the work as long as the project also includes the public presentation of the artist’s work within the 2023-2024 project period and the artist is involved in an educational/community engagement activity.

Does the public presentation or educational/community engagement activities have to be free of charge?
No, organizations may charge admission to all or select activities as appropriate.

Artist Requirements

Is the grant for one artist or can it be for multiple artists?
This grant program does not support multiple artists. You can only submit an application for one artist, one collective, one ensemble, or one company. For collectives, ensembles, and companies, at least 50% of the members must reside in the South Arts region.

Does the professional guest artist, company, or ensemble have to reside in South Arts’ region?
Yes, the artist must currently reside in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Tennessee.

Can the guest artist come from the same state that the organization serves?
Yes, this grant allows for artists who reside in the same state. 

Can the same artist be submitted in more than one application?
Yes, there is no limit to the number of presenters that can feature an artist in their application. 

What are the project requirements for the artist?
The artist must participate in a minimum of two separate activities – at least one public presentation (a reading, performance, film screening, or exhibition of their work) and at least one educational/community engagement activity (such as a masterclass, lecture, or workshop).

What qualifies as a reading?
Readings are activities conducted by a poet, a fiction writer, or a creative non-fiction writer in which they read from their own work. This activity could be part of a larger presentation. Readings by playwrights are ineligible.

Who qualifies as a professional guest artist or company for my project?
Guest artists or companies are often those who:

  • work primarily in the artistic disciplines of your application
  • are recognized as a professional by their peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
  • have specialized training in the artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
  • are committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if financially possible
  • have a history of public presentation or publication
  • reside in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Tennessee
  • are at least 18 years of age or are part of a youth ensemble/company that specializes in touring (ex. 501(c)3 children’s choirs).

Need help finding a Southern artist? View artists who have been supported by South Arts in the past or look through our State Arts Agency partners' rosters.

Readiness Planning

Is a readiness plan also called a strategic plan?
No, we see these as different tools. A readiness plan is a combination of documents, processes, and training that formulate how your organization will respond should the unexpected occur. This could include the loss of resources or the ability to function normally, whether brought on by theft, natural disaster, loss of a key individual, technology failure, or any other unexpected event.


How do I upload files into my application?
Although the South Arts team has prepared this short video for the Presentation Grants program, it is still relevant to the Express Grants program. This walkthrough will assist you in uploading files into our new Salesforce application portal.