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Applying for the GIG Fund

The GIG Fund is a grant of $4,000 that supports creative projects and educational events in the Midwest. These funds help organizations present artists in their community by supporting programming and touring costs.

A group of students ride in a Japanese river boat down the water, with a person in back steering. A group of students stands on the land behind them, smiling and taking pictures.
Photo Credit: Fred Zwicky

How to Apply

  1. 1

    Review the Guidelines

    Learn more about the types of projects we support and our grant deadlines below. Our next GIG Fund grants will open in Fall 2023. Stay tuned for more information. 

  2. 2

    Prepare your application

    Visit our grants portal, SmartSimple, to begin this process. Access detailed instructions on how to get set up in SmartSimple.

  3. 3

    Complete and submit the application form

    The next cycle of applications will be due in Fall 2023. Only one application will be accepted per organization.


The GIG Fund welcomes applications from a variety of organizations, including first-time applicants; organizations serving Native Nations, rural and urban areas; and organizations with small, medium or large operating budgets.

Applicants must:

  • Be in good standing with Arts Midwest, with no overdue or outstanding required reports and/or grant documents.
  • Be located in the Midwest region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or the federally-recognized Native Nations that share this geography.
  • Be able to select and engage professional artists to perform/display their work before general audiences as an ongoing and significant component of their organization’s activity.
  • Agree to acknowledge Arts Midwest and the National Endowment for the Arts in all programs and press materials related to funded engagements.
  • Have a valid Unique Entity ID via SAM.gov (free to acquire).
  • Comply with Federal eligibility requirements.

Examples of eligible applicants include:

  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3, U.S. organizations
  • Nonprofit colleges and universities
  • Federally recognized tribal governments
  • Units of state or local government

Ineligible Applicants

  • Organizations applying with a fiscal sponsor
  • For-profit business or organizations
  • Artists, ensembles, and artist’s agents

Organizations can use these funds to support a project that engages performing, visual, multimedia, or literary artists. Artistic excellence and merit will be part of the application review.

1. Contract with a professional artist/ensemble of high artistic excellence and merit.

  • A portion of the grant award must be used to pay the artist(s).
  • The artist/ensemble may be from anywhere in the world, including the applicant’s own community.
  • The artist(s) must be a least 18 years of age and not be a full-time student.
  • NOTE: Engagements featuring an artist from a country listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Sanctions Countries are not eligible. This includes Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Venezuela and may be subject to change.

2. Offer at least two activities featuring the artist(s) in an accessible facility/space.

Activities should build an appreciation for the artist or their creative discipline, and provide opportunities for direct interaction between an audience and the artist(s) or art form.

  • At least one activity must be open to the general public.
  • Activities may be in-person, socially distanced, and/or virtual.
  • The activities must take place in an accessible facility or on an accessible online streaming platform. If you’re curious about making activities more accessible, visit Arts Midwest Accessibility Center for resources.
  • Examples of activities include performances; masterclasses/workshops; lectures/demonstrations/panel discussions; meet-and-greets; curriculum-based activities; discussions/talkbacks; etc.

3. At least one activity must reach an audience with limited access to the arts:

  • Historically underrepresented or marginalized people: This may include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color); immigrants and/or refugees, or LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) people.
  • Youth (17 or under): This may include a partnership with local K-12 schools or organizations serving youth (i.e. Boys & Girls Club).
  • Older adults (65 or older): This may include partnerships with senior living facilities or care centers.
  • Veterans and active service members: This may include a partnership with the local Veterans Administration or active-service members from a nearby military base.
  • Disability: This may include a partnership with a local organization serving people with vision impairment, deaf or hard of hearing, mental health conditions, intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical disability, etc.
  • Individuals in the justice system: This may include partnerships with organizations or facilities (i.e. prison, detention, residential, or treatment centers) that serve this population.
  • Economically disadvantaged: This may include partnering with a local organization that serves low-income populations and offering free or subsidized tickets.
  • Rural geographic location: For the purpose of this program, the definition of a geographic location that lacks access is a city with a population of 50,000 or less. To qualify, the organization may reside in a city as defined or conduct a performance and/or community activity in a city of 50,000 or less.

Examples of eligible projects
This fund typically supports presenters (venues) in covering artist fees for performances and workshops that feature touring artist(s). Artists can be from the local community, in-state, or out-of-state. Examples include:

  • A community service organization offering stipends to artists towards the completion of a work of art or installation.
  • A music festival presenting a guest musician/band.
  • Dance companies hiring a non-company choreographer that will lead workshops and perform for the general public.
  • A library hosting a virtual author talk and writing workshop.
  • A presenting organization contracting with a theater company to perform in their space and give an audience talkback.

Examples of ineligible projects
This fund does not support the following types of projects.

  • Dance/theater companies or independent artists seeking funding for their own self-produced material. (e.g., funding to help underwrite an annual company production of A Christmas Carol.)
  • Dance/theater companies hiring a playwright/director/choreographer to work with company artists on a self-produced performance. (e.g., hiring a touring artist to perform/direct/choreograph in their annual company production of The Nutcracker.)
  • Guest artists that participate in the applicant’s self-produced work (e.g., a guest conductor for an orchestra/symphony; a guest choreographer who creates a piece for student/company dancers; or a guest singer appearing with the local opera company.)
  • Independent artists seeking funding for their own self-produced material.
  • Projects that feature mostly student performers.
  • Artist fellowships/scholarships
  • Projects that are not arts focused (e.g., food festivals, fireworks displays, conference keynote speeches, etc.)
  • Projects that are part of a benefit or fundraiser.
  • Projects that are funded by another Arts Midwest program.
  • Projects funded by another federal source.

Grant awards are $4,000 and are federal funds that derive from the National Endowment for the Arts. Determination of awards for each grant period is dependent upon available funds and demand within each state.

Matching requirement
Applicants will be required to demonstrate matching funds on a 1:1 basis for this $4,000 grant. As such, your expenses and revenues should each be at least $8,000. Eligible sources for the required match include salaries and wages, in-kind contributions, volunteer hours, earned revenues (donations, ticket sales, other grants), cash, or other non-Federal grant awards.

Federal funds cannot be used as match.

Eligible expense examples
These grants will support costs associated with engaging artists in community experiences as safely as possible given the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses must be applicable to the project for which the organization is applying.

Examples include: Artist fees (required), production fees, allocated time of staff salaries, technology to host virtual performances/exhibitions/workshops/classes, facility rental, equipment purchases for supporting artistic engagements ($5,000 or less), consultant fees, professional development for hosting socially distanced or virtual engagements, accessibility accommodations for individuals with disabilities or auto-immune conditions, market research costs, etc.

Contact Arts Midwest with any inquiries about eligible expenses not listed above.

Grant recipients must compensate all professional artists and related or supporting professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum rate of compensation appropriate in your area and for the work provided. This requirement is in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor in part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 505 does not provide information on specific compensation levels.

Examples of unallowable expenses
As a Federally funded program, unallowable uses of funds include, but are not limited to: refreshments, concessions, alcohol, fundraising costs, lobbying, retrofitting or construction of physical space, international travel, bad debts and collection costs, home office workspace, subgranting or regranting, cash reserves or endowments, goods for resale, and prizes.

Do not include these costs in your budget.

Additional Funds for Indigenous Artists
We are proud to partner with Western Arts Alliance (WAA) on their Advancing Indigenous Performance Program which promotes the touring and engagement of Indigenous performing artists from the United States or its Territories.

An application that meets the engagement requirements and features an Indigenous performing artist may be eligible for additional funds from WAA. Once the project is considered eligible, Arts Midwest will request that WAA match the support from the GIG Fund. This funding will be determined by WAA, and will be dependent upon available funds for the region. Selected applicants may need to complete additional reporting requirements for WAA and participating artists may be asked to complete a survey.

To qualify for these funds, the artist/ensemble must identify as an Indigenous artist, as defined by WAA: a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is a member or descendant of a Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian nation or community, including Native/First Peoples of Canada, and U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes individuals without official tribal status who are members of Native communities, and tribal members or descendants not living in their homelands or home community. All Indigenous artists must be living in the United States or its Territories in order to be eligible. Unfortunately, visual, multimedia, and literary Indigenous artists do not qualify.

  • Arts Midwest staff will review applications for eligibility and completeness.
  • You will receive an email confirmation to confirm receipt of your application. Once Arts Midwest staff reviews it, we will follow up with any questions or corrections we have before it proceeds to the review stage.
  • Complete and eligible applications will be forwarded to a panel comprised of individuals and state arts agency representatives for review.
    Allocations will be determined on a state-by-state basis and dependent upon demand and availability of funds for each state in the Arts Midwest region.
  • Review criteria: Artistic excellence and merit of the contracted artists (required for National Endowment for the Arts funds), depth of potential engagement with audiences, ability and capacity to carry out the project, and project commitment to DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility). Specifically for this last criterion, the panel will review the applicant’s plan for including audiences with limited access to the arts and the accessibility measures undertaken to ensure access for members of the public.
  • Priority will be given to organizations that are led by or engage an artist(s) who is historically underrepresented or marginalized, rural communities, under-funded areas, and organizations that were not funded in previous rounds. No awards are guaranteed based on priority status.
  • All applicants will receive an email notification of award decisions in late 2022 following approval from Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors.


A final report will be due 30 days after the project is completed. Visit this page and open the “Tools for Grantees” section to view final report requirements. We typically require: in-person and online attendance information for funded activities, artist information, final budget with actuals, pictures or screenshots of funded activities as available, documentation of award acknowledgments/promotion/publicity efforts, and anecdotal information from participants.


Arts Midwest is now collecting applications through a new grants management platform called SmartSimple. Before you apply for a grant opportunity, you’ll need to register your organization in the system.

Learn More

A person sits on a bench holding a guitar, with an amp and a variety of pedals on the ground below.
Photo Credit: Deidre McPherson


Arts Midwest requests that all applicants apply online unless a disability prevents them from doing so. The platform we use, SmartSimple, has a dedicated Quality Assurance team that tests this platform, plus an outside consultant (a completely blind computer user) who does both accessibility and usability testing quarterly. They use assistive technologies such as the JAWS screen reader.

Arts Midwest works to ensure that grant guidelines, presentations, and any other written materials are created with accessibility principles in mind. Additionally, we are happy to provide materials in Braille, Large Print, or other formats with advance notice.

To ensure everyone has access to the application, Arts Midwest staff will work with applicants who wish to use other means to apply. Solutions we have previously implemented include filling out an adapted form in Microsoft Word and providing verbal responses that Arts Midwest will share via audio recording or transcription.

Contact us as early as possible to begin a conversation about how we can help make this opportunity accessible to you. Please contact Carly Newhouse, program & accessibility manager, at [email protected] or 612.238.8002.

Curious about what makes an activity accessible? Visit our Accessibility Center, especially the Handbooks + Checklists section, for resources and tips on accessible events, venues, and platforms.

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