Legal Requirements

Important Note Regarding Grant Contracts and Logo Usage.

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All applicants must read this section. It discusses what is required of applicants by law and by the rules of the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC) and will help you understand how to apply for funding. You must meet these requirements to enter the TAC funding process. However, because all TAC programs are competitive, meeting these requirements does not ensure your activity will be funded. Applications are scored and ranked according to how well they meet the criteria listed in the guidelines under each program area. Refer to information about the program from which you are requesting funds.

For Organizations

An organization is eligible to apply for funding of its arts activities, if the organization is legally chartered in Tennessee and meets either of the following qualifications:

1.) The group is a chartered not-for-profit organization 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.

A copy of the organization’s Tennessee state charter (verification of incorporation), current by-laws, and letter of determination from the Internal Revenue Service recognizing the applicant organization as a not-for-profit corporation must be on file with the Tennessee Arts Commission office. All applicants must provide a valid IRS Employer Identification Number that is issued in the name of the applicant organization.

2.) The organization is a public or private educational institution (such as an elementary or secondary school), a school board, a governmental agency or a college or university. Private educational institutions must be not-for-profit and meet the tax-exempt requirements explained above. Colleges and universities are eligible only for activities that clearly serve the needs of surrounding communities or the State and are designed to involve a broad audience. Activities that are credit-producing or are oriented primarily to students and the academic community are not eligible.


"Making Changes to your project or activity: Organizations MUST carry out projects as described in the original grant application. However, circumstances beyond your control may arise. If this happens, submit an email to the program director with a detailed explanation of why you are seeking approval to change the scope of services as outlined in your application or grant contract, what those changes are, and the perceived impact on the project. Be sure to include the grant application or contract number in the email.  You will receive an email notification in response to your request."


All applicants must provide a valid IRS Employer Identification Number that is issued in the name of the applicant organization.

Nonprofit organizations and groups that plan to come to the TAC for funding can obtain a number by picking up an SS-4 application from the nearest IRS office or calling the federal tax form warehouse (1-800/829-3676) and requesting one. Tax form information also is available at The TAC uses the EIN number to process funding when grants are awarded.



Requests for grants must be submitted via a current online eGRANT application. In addition, hardcopies of the required number of printed applications, documents, and/or materials must be sent to the TAC by the deadline to complete the application process. Specific requirements and deadlines can be found within the guidelines of each grant category. Applications may not be sent by FAX or electronic mail.

Applicants should note that submission of a signed grant application to the TAC constitutes a verification that the applicant has read and understands all the information contained in the guidelines, and an assurance that the applicant will comply with all rules, regulations, laws, terms, and conditions described on the assurances page of the application.

Organizations submitting more than one (1) application must submit each application under separate cover. Do not include more than one (1) application and its attachments in a single envelope.  



No Commission funds may be used for capital improvements (buildings or construction), for equipment purchase or for elimination of an accumulated deficit. Expenditures that relate to the proposed project may be used as matching funds.

All events sponsored in part or whole with Commission funds must be open to the general public.

No Commission funds can be used for planned fundraising activities.

TAC funds cannot be used for projects that have implicit religious content, express a particular religious view, or advances a religious purpose.

Funds from the TAC may not be used as “seed money” for starting new organizations. A track record of previous arts programming may be requested when evaluating the merits of the proposal.

Applications from colleges or universities or other institutions of higher education, whether public or private, must emphasize non-academic community involvement in the planning and implementation of the project. The final product, if any, of the project must include members of the community. Colleges or universities must agree to all terms before entering into a Commission generated contract.

No Commission funds may be used for in-school, curriculum-based projects, except funds awarded through the Arts Education grants category. Tours to schools by performing arts groups and similar are encouraged, however.

Applications from “statewide” organizations may only be made by membership service or single-discipline arts organizations whose board of directors and officers geographically represent the entire state and whose statewide mission can be legally demonstrated in the language of their bylaws. Geographic representation means that at least half of the organization’s board, membership, and officers reside outside the grand division in which the statewide organization is based.

No grant funds may be used for out-of-state travel expenses, except travel associated with Arts Education grants (which may allow such expenditures for required workshops), and travel associated with Professional Development Support grants (if it meets with guideline requirements). No Commission funds may be used to travel outside of the United States.

No grant funds may be used for out-of-state travel expenses, except Arts Education grants may allow such expenditures for required workshops and travel associated with Professional Development Support grants.

The Commission will not make grants to an organization with a standing deficit unless a plan to reduce that deficit is submitted with the application.

No Commission funds may be used to begin, match, add to or complete any type of endowment campaign or program.

Additionally, the following are examples of activities and expenditures not fundable by the TAC for arts projects:

  • Insurance premiums.
  • Office space rental.
  • Janitorial service and general physical plant maintenance.
  • Food and hospitality.
  • Vanity publications.
  • Scholarly arts-related research and writing.
  • Cash awards.
  • Legal fees.
  • Payments to members of the organization’s board.

Grants awarded by the Commission to organizations that receive programmatic budget amendments ("earmarked funds" or "line items") from the Tennessee General Assembly shall be reviewed by the Commission, and any proposed grant award from the Commission shall be adjusted as necessary prior to actual payment of the grant in order to prevent overlapping state funding of the same program or project. The same is true of applicants who receive funds from a proposed project under another Commission grant program in the same fiscal year.



Arts organizations located in states bordering Tennessee may apply to the TAC for funding in specific grant categories if there is clear demonstration that the projects and activities for which funds are being requested significantly serve Tennesseans. Arts organizations applying for funding must meet all eligibility requirements of Tennessee-based organizations including being chartered in the state. Additionally, residents of Tennessee must be appropriately represented on the organization’s governing board.

Arts organizations located in bordering states may apply for funding under the Arts Project Support or Rural Arts Project Support grants categories if they meet the above stated requirements.

Additionally, arts organizations that geographically border Tennessee and are located within five (5) miles of the Tennessee state border and meet all eligibility requirements may apply for funding in the General Operating Support, Arts Education, Cultural Crossroads, Funds for At-Risk Youth, Technical Assistance, Touring Arts, and Special Opportunities grant categories.

This policy does not apply to individuals. An individual applying for funding in the Individual Artist Fellowship and Professional Development Support grant categories must be a Tennessee resident. (Must submit proof of residency.)



All grant categories require at least a one-to-one (1:1) dollar match of Commission funds with the exception of Arts Education, Arts Access, Professional Development Support, Technical Assistance and Special Opportunities Grants. The Individual Artist Fellowship category is an award and therefore does not require any dollar match.

“One-to-one dollar match” means the applicant must cover at least half the cost of a project or program.

State dollars cannot be used as a match for projects funded by the Commission.

In-kind contributions cannot be used for the one-to-one (1:1) dollar match requirement, but the Commission wants to know about such contributions. Most of the Financial Profile pages of the Commission’s application forms provide a space for estimating the value of in-kind contributions. Such contributions should include those services and supplies for which the applicant under normal circumstances would have to pay, but are being donated without charge for the program. The value of volunteer time should be estimated and included only when the time is directly related to the program. Calculate volunteer time at the current minimum wage level. In general, board membership is not considered an in-kind contribution.

To monitor the grant matching requirements, an applicant that receives Commission funds must maintain accurate support records for all revenue.

Questions regarding matching requirements should be directed to the appropriate staff member.



Panel review meetings are open to the public per Tennessee’s Sunshine Law. Panel meetings generally are scheduled within three months after a deadline. Panelists meet to evaluate and score applications in each program area. TAC staff members compile a list of applications, ranked by score from highest to lowest, and present that list to the Commission Board for final funding approval.



Commission Board meetings are open to the public per Tennessee’s Sunshine Law. Funding recommendations in all programs are reviewed by the Commission Board before funds are awarded. Applicants are informed by letter of the Commission Board’s decision following the June Board meeting.

For Individuals

Individual Artist Fellowship (IAF) and Professional Development Support (PDS) applicants must be at least 18 years of age and be legal residents of Tennessee at the time of application with a permanent Tennessee mailing address. The Commission will accept as evidence of such residency a Tennessee voter registration card or a State of Tennessee driver's license. Applicants must supply their social security number on the application and may be requested to submit a copy of their most recently filed Federal Income Tax -- Form 1040, if there is a question concerning legal residency.

Those not eligible to apply include: minors (individuals under 18 years of age), full-time State of Tennessee employees (other than instructors on the faculties of state-supported educational institutions); members of the Commission, its staff, and members of their families; full-time, registered students.

For Organizations and Individuals


As a part of the grant award contract agreement, grantees must give assurance to the Commission that it complies with all applicable Federal and State laws, rules and regulations regarding use of public funds. These include, but are not limited to, assurances of compliance with Federal and State statutes relating to nondiscrimination which provide in part that no person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age be excluded from participation in Commission funded activities. Depending on the particular program, additional assurance may be required regarding compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (19 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101-12213) and, where applicable, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.) as well as all regulations of the National Endowment for the Arts issued pursuant to these statutes and that it immediately will take any measures necessary to comply.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, provides that no person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that no otherwise qualified disabled individual in the United States, as defined in Section 7(6), shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Age Discrimination Act of 1975 provides that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ ADA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment (Title I). State and local government services (Title II), and places of public accommodation and commercial facilities (Title III).



Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states, in part, that “no otherwise qualified person with a disability … shall solely by reason of their disability be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

All Commission programs, services, and facilities are fully accessible to all Tennessee artists and citizens. Artists representing Tennessee’s diverse artistic and cultural heritage are urged to apply and participate in Commission programs and activities. No person on the ground of race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion or sex shall be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, or otherwise be subject to discrimination of services, programs and employment provided by the Commission and its contracting agencies. If an individual believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination, they should contact the Commission’s Director of Arts Access at (615) 532-9797.



Because of unanticipated shortfalls in revenue annually collected by the State of Tennessee, the Commission may be required to reduce the agency’s budget at any time during a fiscal year. It is possible that required budget cuts at the Commission could potentially reduce matching grants made early in or during the fiscal year. The Commission, therefore, reserves the right to reduce matching grants commensurate with requirements set forth by the State of Tennessee.



An applicant has a right to appeal any decision that denies funding to the proposed program or project either in whole or in part. This appeal should be directed in writing to the Executive Director of the Commission.



The TAC does not own, collect royalties on or hold copyrights to artistic products resulting from its grants nor will it take any action on behalf of the grantee to protect the grantee’s intellectual property rights. The TAC does, however, have legal authority to reproduce and use documentation of such products for educational, promotional, official or noncommercial purposes, both electronically and in print.



The Tennessee Arts Commission is committed to guiding its constituents into the use of technology. Throughout the Guidelines you will see evidence of these efforts. The introduction of the online eGRANT application system is our latest effort to streamline our programs and processes.



All notices, informational pamphlets, press releases, research reports, signs, and similar public notices prepared and released by the Grantee shall include the "The Arts Changing Lives" logo image supplied by the State.

Overview of the Tennessee Arts Commission

The Tennessee Arts Commission on the Performing Arts was created by an Act of the 1965 General Assembly and was funded through a $25,000 Study Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This Commission surveyed the cultural activities and facilities through questionnaires and personal contact and held meetings with artists, cultural organizations, and individuals interested in the arts throughout the State. The Commission set goals and established priorities that would guide initially the programs and activities of the new State Arts Agency. The results of their study were reported to the Governor and Legislature, along with the recommendations that resulted in the establishment of the Tennessee Arts Commission by the 1967 General Assembly.


Tennessee Arts Commission:

4-20-101. Commission created - Regional representation.

(a) (1) There is created and established a state commission to be known as the Tennessee Arts Commission, to consist of fifteen (15) members broadly representative of all fields of the performing, visual and literary arts, to be appointed by the governor from among citizens of the state who have demonstrated a vital interest in the performing, visual or literary arts.

(2) In making appointments to the Arts Commission, the governor shall strive to ensure that at least one (1) person serving on the commission is sixty (60) years of age or older and that at least one (1) person serving on the commission is a member of a racial minority.

(b) There shall be at least one (1) but not more than two (2) members from each United States congressional district in Tennessee. Such members' residency shall be determined by the congressional district in which such members are registered to vote.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 1; 1978, ch. 688, § 1; T.C.A., § 4-2001; Acts 1980, ch. 680, § 1; 1988, ch. 1013, § 6.]


4-20-102. Members - Tenure - Vacancies - Expenses - Officers.

(a) Terms shall be for five (5) years.

(b) No member of the Commission who serves a full five-year term shall be eligible for reappointment during a one-year period following the expiration of such member's term.

(c) All vacancies shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term in the same manner as original appointments.

(d) (1) The members of the Commission shall not receive any compensation for their services but shall be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as members of the Commission.

(2) All reimbursement for travel expenses shall be in accordance with the provisions of the comprehensive travel regulations as promulgated by the department of finance and administration and approved by the attorney general and reporter.

(e) The Commission will annually elect its chair and other officers.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 2; 1976, ch. 806, § 1(9); T.C.A., § 4-2002.]


4-20-103. Executive director - Staff - Advisory panels.

(a) The chair shall employ, with the approval of the Commission, an executive director as administrative officer. The executive director will have broad experience in state art agency management.

(b) The executive director shall employ other officers, experts and employees as may be needed and shall fix their compensation within the amounts made available for such purposes. Employment of staff members is subject to the approval of the commissioner of personnel.

(c) The Commission may also, at its discretion, form advisory panels from qualified persons within the state to obtain their advice and counsel on matters pertaining to the arts. Members of these panels shall serve at the will and pleasure of the commission and will receive no compensation.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 3; T.C.A., § 4-2003.]


4-20-104. Duties and objectives.

The duties and objectives of the Commission are to:

(1) Stimulate and encourage throughout the state the study and presentation of the performing, visual and literary arts and public interest and participation therein;

(2) Encourage participation in, appreciation of, and education in the arts to meet the legitimate needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state;

(3) Take such steps as may be necessary and appropriate to encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of our state, to expand the state's cultural resources and to promote the use of art in the state government's activities and facilities; and

(4) Encourage excellence and assist freedom of artistic expression essential for the well-being of the arts.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 4; T.C.A., § 4-2004.]


4-20-105. Powers.

(a) The Commission is authorized and empowered to:

(1) Hold public hearings;

(2) Enter into contracts, within the limit of funds available therefore, with individuals, organizations and institutions for services furthering the objectives of the Commission's programs;

(3) Enter into contracts, within the limit of funds available therefore, with local and regional associations for cooperative endeavors furthering the objectives of the commission's programs;

(4) Accept gifts, contributions and bequests of unrestricted funds from individuals, foundations, corporations and other organizations or institutions for the purpose of furthering the objectives of the Commission's programs;

(5) Make and sign any agreements and do and perform any acts that may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this part; and

(6) Promulgate rules and regulations pursuant to the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in chapter 5 of this title.

(b) The Commission may request and shall receive from any department, division, board, bureau, commission or agency of this state such assistance and data as will enable it properly to carry out its powers and duties hereunder.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 5; T.C.A., § 4-2005; Acts 1986, ch. 708, § 3.]


4-20-106. Federal funds.

The Commission is the official agency of the state to receive and disburse appropriate funds made available by the federal government for programs related to the performing, visual and literary arts, and the preservation of architecture, art or artifacts.

[Acts 1967, ch. 2, § 6; T.C.A., § 4-2006.]


4-20-107. Duties as to underserved and underrepresented artists and art organizations.

The executive director shall employ at least one (1) full-time employee who shall perform the following duties:

(1) Identify the traditionally underserved and underrepresented ethnic minority, disabled, handicapped, elderly, and rural artists and arts organizations within the state;

(2) Periodically survey such artists and arts organizations in order to determine the level of grant program participation among such artists and organizations;

(3) Review with the executive director and the members of the Tennessee Arts Commission the grants process and award system in order to identify barriers to equal opportunity for such artists and arts organizations with regard to recruitment, selection, training, technical assistance, funding, benefits and special conditions for each arts grant program administered by or through any entity of state government;

(4) Report, at least once each year, to the Arts Commission and to the members of the general assembly concerning the level of grant program participation by such artists and arts organizations and make recommendations pertaining thereto; and

(5) Undertake other appropriate activities to assure equitable participation by the traditionally underserved and underrepresented ethnic minority, disabled, handicapped, elderly, and rural artists and arts organizations within this state with regard to grant programs administered by or through entities of state government.

[Acts 1988, ch. 866, § 1.]