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ToolkitLCC Program Information

Council Programs

A Council Program is a cultural project that is organized by the council itself and that receives funding from the LCC’s allocation from Mass Cultural Council. It might represent some larger project that has a wide public benefit, such as a work of public art, festival or exhibition.

An LCC may spend up to 15% of its state allocation each funding cycle to support Council Programs. The Council must enter the project information as an application in the Annual Report, and ensure that the project follows the same state guidelines and council priorities as other applications. Council Programs should respond to cultural needs that are not otherwise being addressed in the community. Councils are strongly encouraged to use their community input process to ask for specific suggestions for projects or to elicit feedback on proposed projects.

Councils thinking about organizing their own programs should review the following information:

Additional Requirements for Council Programs

The dollars approved for Council Programs come directly from that LCC’s annual allocation and are reimbursement based. Council programs are subject to the same eligibility, review criteria, and restrictions listed in the LCC Program Guidelines. Review of the council’s proposal takes place locally by the council at its grant cycle voting meeting. At the meeting an LCC must weigh the merits of its own proposal, and how well it meets state and council priorities, against all other locally submitted proposals.

  • Council Program funds cannot be spent on administrative expenses, such as paid administrative staff, grantee receptions, or standard council publicity efforts. A council may use up to five percent of its allocation annually for such purposes.
  • Funds raised from LCC programs must be kept in the LCC’s municipal account and treated as locally raised revenue.
  • Council Program funds cannot be spent on salaries or stipends for LCC members.
  • Council Program funds cannot be set aside “just in case” and must be spent prior to the next grant cycle. Unspent funds must be treated as unencumbered funds and must be granted out according to Mass Cultural Council's timeline and process.
  • Council Program funds cannot be used to fund late or ineligible grant applications. These funds are intended for use in programming and activities organized by the council itself.
  • Each member of the council must carefully follow the conflict of interest procedures. This information is not intended as legal advice, and only serves as general guidance on how to comply with the conflict of interest law. Conflict of interest law includes the prohibition of using one's LCC position to obtain benefits for oneself or others. This means that Council Programs cannot create foreseeable opportunities for compensated work that council members then take advantage of. Examples include:
    • If a council is organizing a festival, an LCC member who is a musician cannot then become a paid performer for that festival.
    • If a council creates a program that requires the support of a paid administrator, a council member cannot then assume that position once it is created.

In addition to oneself, each LCC member must be careful if family members, an organization a member is affiliated, or business partners have a potential financial interest in council programming. If a conflict of interest situation arises for any local cultural council member, he or she should obtain legal advice prior to engaging in any conduct which might violate the conflict of interest law. The Commission’s Legal Division is available to provide free, confidential legal advice to any LCC member during business hours every weekday at 617-371-9500.

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Community Need

In addition to meeting the LCC criteria and eligibility requirements, Council Programs must respond to a specific unmet public need in the community. Determine what your neighbors want through community input meetings, surveys and analyses of grant applications over the past few years.

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Planning

Before the application deadline, consider submitting a draft proposal to Mass Cultural Council about your planned program. While not required, submitting a project proposal for staff feedback is recommended. Draft proposals can be sent to lcc@art.state.ma.us.

When developing an idea, keep these things in mind:

  • How is this project benefiting the community?
  • Does this project respond to a specific, unmet public cultural need in the community?
  • What kind of support does the council have from the community and town government?
  • Is the council collaborating with any other organizations or communities?
  • Does this project require additional funds? LCCs can only set side 15% of their state allocation for Council Programs. If your project requires additional funding, the council will need to come up with a plan a fundraising plan.
  • Projects take teamwork and time. Be careful to do the necessary logistical planning.
  • Publicity is important, both before and after the project happens. Invite local officials to attend the event; call your Mass Cultural Council staff contact to help with legislative invitations. And don't forget to have fun!

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Timeline

LCCs should calculate the amount of funds they plan to use for Council Programs at the beginning of each grant cycle when they calculate the amount available for granting. This amount must not exceed 15% of the allocation from Mass Cultural Council.

LCCs must list funding amounts and program descriptions of any Council Programs in the Annual Report by January 15.

LCCs should notify their municipal fiscal officer of the program so that they will be aware that LCC members will be reimbursed for program expenses. LCC members cannot receive compensation, but can receive reimbursement for expenses. Together the LCC and the municipality should determine specific policies and procedures for reimbursing members for expenses.

Complete the program within the window of eligibility: Programs may take place during an 18-month window of eligibility from July 1 through December 31 of the following year, unless the council restricts the window of eligibility for projects in their Council Priorities.

Any unspent state funds set aside for Council Programs may not be encumbered during the following grant cycle and must be regranted.

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Accessing the Funds

The funds for programming must be kept in the council’s municipal account and can be accessed as:

  • Direct payments to third party vendors.
  • Reimbursement to council members for expenses related to the project.

The expenditure of these funds may fall under municipal procurement requirements (such as requiring bids from multiple vendors, requiring payments upon completion of service, etc.). Therefore councils undertaking their own programming should work closely with the municipality to establish specific processes for expending and tracking Council Program funds from Mass Cultural Council.

Final Report

In order for Mass Cultural Council to understand the impact these funds and the council activities have on communities, LCCs who use state funds to support their programs must complete a final report by January 15 of the following grant year. Final reports must be emailed to the LCC’s Mass Cultural Council staff contact.