The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Grant Scoring Criteria and Definitions

Northampton Arts Council prioritizes the need to redress systemic inequities that have disproportionately impacted individuals who hold historically excluded identities. As such, we have modified our grant criteria by adding an Accessibility and Inclusion category. This is part of ongoing work to operationalize our Equity Statement.


NAC Grant Criteria:


Artistic Merit


Accessibility and Inclusion


Community Impact


Project Feasibility


Please see below for additional information on each category.



Artistic Merit (0-7)


Is it art?


Does the proposed project demonstrate a high standard of technique within its genre or similar work in our community?


Does the project offer a different take or a fresh perspective?


How does this project reflect or enhance the cultural vibrancy of Northampton and the region?


Does the project represent a kind of artistic production that is under-represented in Northampton- aka have we never seen this before?


Does the proposed project excite you?


Is the format of work engaging?


Do you think residents/visitors/audience members will enjoy, benefit, and/or learn from this project?


Does this project cultivate the potential for artistic growth? Does it help further the careers of emerging artists in our community?


Accessibility and Inclusion (0-5)


Is the venue or platform accessible? (ie - physical access for people with disabilities; transportation; gender-inclusive restrooms; translation services; captioning)?


Is participation affordable for a broad audience? If it’s a ticketed event, does the project offer a sliding scale/reduced tickets/or some other way of promoting access for low-income people?


Does the project center the voices of people and communities who hold historically excluded identities?


Does the project center on BIPOC perspectives?


Does the applicant hold a historically excluded identity?


Does the applicant identify as BIPOC?


Does the project provide opportunities for diverse community participation and input? Are there avenues for artists, audience, volunteers, collaborators, and/or supporters to participate in and shape the project?


Is this a first-time applicant?


Is the project caregiver-friendly and family-friendly?



Community Impact (0-5)


Does this project fill a need in our community?


Is it educational?


Does it bring art from outside of our community into it?


Does this project bring people to the edge of their comfort zones in order to promote learning and growth with the intention of dismantling systemic racism and inequality?


Is it a professional development opportunity for an artist or group of artists?


Who is the intended audience?


How will it impact the participants and audience?


Does the project provide an opportunity for reciprocal learning and community participation/input?


Would the proposed project have a long-term effect or is it more ephemeral?


Where does it take place? (ie- the density of artistic and cultural production is high in downtown Northampton, so the location of a project could be meaningful, especially if it promotes access to the arts in new places)


Does this project connect people of all identities with art and one another?



Project Feasibility (0-3)


Do the budget and project narrative convey a well-planned project? Does it seem like this project will happen?


What is the applicant’s plan to make up for any financial shortfalls?


Does the budget include multiple funding sources (including in-kind donations)?


Are listed collaborators confirmed or “potential”?


Does the applicant or their collaborators have experience doing similar work (we don’t want to penalize people for trying something new--- but do they have transferable skills needed to execute the proposed project)?


Is the venue confirmed?


Is there a project date?


Does the applicant have a marketing plan?


Do they have access to the audience they intend to reach?


Is there a pandemic/crisis backup plan?










Suggested Scoring Allotment

Drafted 8/20/21

Approved 11/9/21


Artistic Merit (0-7)


Accessibility & Inclusion (0-5)


Community Impact (0-5)


Project Feasibility (0-3)


0-1: Nil to Marginal

The proposal does not, or minimally address, how the project will be designed and carried out in a way that is accessible to and inclusive of all community members.


2-3: Fair to Satisfactory

Some aspects of the proposal/project address or are supportive of the accessibility & inclusion priorities as outlined above.


4-5: Good to Very Good

One or several of the accessibility & inclusion priorities are considerately and/or significantly addressed by the project and proposal.


Rationale: Total Max Score= 20, more weighted value given to inclusive priorities. The use of a rubric allows for the standardization of scoring across group members.

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