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Applying for the GIG Fund

The GIG Fund is a grant of $2,000-4,000 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.

  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 has an intent to apply form due on September 21, 2023 at 11:59p.m. Central time and the full application due by October 3, 2023 at 11:59p.m. Central time. Only one application will be accepted per organization.


  • Intent to Apply (Required): Due September 21, 2023 @ 11:59 p.m. Central Time 
  • Application Deadline: Due October 3, 2023 @ 11:59 p.m. Central Time
  • Notification of Award Decisions: Early November 2023
  • GIG Fund Activities Take Place: November 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024


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 organizations with a budget of $1 million or less.

Who should apply?

  • 501c3 non-profit organizations and tribal organizations with a budget of $1 million or less.
  • Organizations located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin, and the Native Nations that share this geography.
  • Arts and cultural organizations in any arts discipline (literature, performing arts, visual arts, traditional arts, multidisciplinary arts, etc.) or nonprofit organizations that provide arts programming (social service agencies, etc.)
  • Priority will be given to applicants who have not received a GIG Fund grant in the past two years.
  • Organizations will need to have a UEI number from SAM.gov in order to receive grant funds. You may apply to GIG Fund even if you do not have a UEI number yet. However, you will need to have one on file by late October 2023. Apply for a UEI at SAM.gov.
  • Organizations applying for GIG Fund grants should not have any overdue reports or funding moratoria with Arts Midwest.

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 include:

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

This round of GIG Fund grants is for activities taking place between November 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024.

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, educational, or cultural value as understood by the target community.

  • 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.

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

  • Activities should feature an educational component that allows direct interaction between an audience and the artist(s) or art form. Examples of activities include masterclasses and workshops; lectures, demonstrations, and panel discussions; meet-and-greets; discussions/talkbacks; etc.
  • Activities must include at least one performance or exhibition that is open to the general public.
  • Activities may be in-person and/or virtual.
  • The activities must take place in an accessible facility or on an accessible online streaming platform.

3. At least one activity must reach an underserved audience.

Underserved refers to groups whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited relative to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Audiences could include, but are not limited to, communities of color, people with disabilities, older adults, rural areas, reservations, lower income communities, LGBTQ+ communities, veterans, and justice-impacted citizens.

Project examples
Sample activities include:

  • A rural community hosting a short artist residency at a local school.
  • An artist hosting a creative writing program with justice-impacted citizens.
  • An artist talkback or meet & greet in an exhibition featuring the work of LGBTQ+ photographers.
  • Presenting a concert series focused on the music of BIPOC composers.
  • Initiating a new partnership to provide art classes with people with disabilities.

Check out the Spring 2023 GIG Fund grantees.

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.)
  • 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.

Organizations may request a grant between $2,000 and $4,000. These grants are federal funds that derive from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Eligible expense examples

Eligible expenses include: Artist fees (required), allocated time of staff salaries, software licenses to host virtual activities, facility rental, equipment purchases for supporting artistic engagements ($4,000 or less), accessibility accommodations for individuals with disabilities or auto-immune conditions, promotion, and artist travel.

Matching requirement

Organizations will be required to demonstrate matching funds on a 1:1 basis for the grant amount.

To demonstrate the match, your expenses and revenues should each be at least double your GIG Fund grant. Potential sources for the match include salaries and wages, in-kind contributions, volunteer hours, earned and contributed revenue (donations, ticket sales, other non-Federal grants), or cash.

Federal funds cannot be used as match.

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.

If your project includes performing artists who identify as Indigenous, you may qualify for additional funding through this program.

WAA defines Indigenous as: 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.

Visual, multimedia, and literary Indigenous artists do not qualify.

No additional application is necessary to be eligible for this supplemental funding. Please contact Joshua Feist, [email protected], for more information.


There is a two-step application process. Submit an intent to apply by September 21. Submit a complete application by October 3.

  • You will receive an email confirmation to confirm receipt of your application.
  • Arts Midwest staff will review applications for eligibility and completeness. Once Arts Midwest staff reviews, we will follow up with any questions or corrections we have before it proceeds to the review stage.
  • All complete and eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel. The panel will consider the following criteria:
    • Activities provide artistic, educational, and/or cultural value.
    • Depth of planned engagement with audiences, as evidenced by the activity summary.
    • Ability and capacity of the applicant to carry out the project, as evidenced in the budget and activity summary.
    • Project commitments to DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) in partnership with communities. 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 considerations 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 who have not previously been awarded GIG Fund in the past two years. Awards are not guaranteed based on priority status.
  • All applicants will received an email notification of award decisions in early November 2023 following approval from Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors.
  • Funded project activities occur between November 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024. Final reports are due about a month after conclusion of planned activities.


A final report will be due 30 days after the project is completed. Visit the Tools for Grantees section of our website to view final report requirements.


Arts Midwest works to ensure that grant guidelines, presentations, and any other written materials are created with accessibility and disability experiences in mind.

For all grant applications, we use an online platform called SmartSimple, unless applicants request another route. SmartSimple has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team and a consultant who helps test usability on a quarterly basis.

We’ve used other tools for grant applications and are happy to work with you such as providing an adapted form in Microsoft Word or taking verbal responses.

Please complete this form so we can help make a grant or program accessible to you.

Visit our Accessibility Policy for more information on our commitment to accessibility.


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

Have questions about the GIG Fund?

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about the GIG Fund. Be sure to check out our FAQs, and if you’d like to talk to us we’re just an email or a phone call away. 

GIG Fund FAQ Contact Our Team