American Rescue Plan (ARP) Recovery Grant Program

If you are an individual creative professional, or you have an arts non-profit organization, Creative Waco has received funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and City of Waco to distribute in the form of grants as part of the Covid related American Rescue Plan. You may be eligible to apply.  Read on to find out how to apply, and who is eligible. 

The NEA announced American Rescue Plan (ARP) grants totaling $20,200,000 to 66 local arts agencies for subgranting to help the arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic. Creative Waco received $200,000 to distribute over two years and we will use this funding to make grants to eligible recipients in Waco and McLennan County. In January 2023, City of Waco allocated $250,000 ARPA funds for the arts to be distributed over two years. Both these grant programs are designed to empower artists and creatives, and help organizations save jobs, support operations, and orient marketing and promotional efforts to build diverse attendance and participation.



1. Who can apply?

Individual artists/creatives and non-profit arts organizations based in the City of Waco or McLennan County.

2. How do you know if you are a non-profit arts organization?

  • You are a non-profit corporation with an IRS 501c(3) determination, and
  • You have a mission to advance the creative or performing arts.
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3. How do you know if you are an individual artist/creative?

You have expertise in an artistic discipline and you can show that you have a track record of performing, producing or presenting artistic or cultural work.

4. Eligibility Checklist

Individual Artist/Creative

  1. Place: Artists must reside in Waco or McLennan County.
  2. History: The artist must have a demonstrated track record of performing, producing or presenting artistic or cultural work.
  3. Size: Artist total household income for FY20-FY21 must not exceed $150,000.


  1. Place: Registered office must be in Waco or McLennan County.
  2. History: The organization must have performed, produced or presented artistic or cultural programming for at least 2 calendar years prior to the term of the grant.
  3. Size: The organization’s total revenue over FY20-FY21 must not exceed $1 million.
  4. Mission:You must have a mission to advance the creative or performing arts.  
  5. Tax Status: The organization must be a Texas non-profit corporation with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt certification. Use of fiscal sponsorship will not qualify.

5. What can individual artists/creatives apply for?

Your application should be for a project or idea that uses your artistic or creative talents to make a significant, positive, measurable impact in our community. Your project must do one or more of the following:

  • facilitate post-pandemic recovery (social, economic, and/or educational)
  • connect diverse people and spark healing, understanding, joy or kindness
  • develop, support, or retain outstanding diverse artistic talent
  • reach, include, and benefit traditionally underrepresented communities

It will also help if your project or idea will:

  • encourage new creative partnerships in the arts, or between the arts and other sectors,
  • encourage participation or develop new audiences – especially from people that are traditionally under-represented,
  • take a creative, fresh or innovative approach to something that does not already happen in our community

If you are in any doubt about whether your project or idea is a good fit, please

6. What can arts nonprofit organizations apply for?

Your application should be for operational funds to support recruitment and retention efforts, to align compensation, and/or to cover facility costs. (Operational grants may only be awarded to non-profit arts organizations with 2020~2021 annual expenses of $1,000,000 or less.)

7. How much can you apply for?

Individual Artist/Creative

Awards to individuals will be made in amounts of $1k, $3k, and $5k, with some flexibility based on panel evaluation and scoring criteria.


Awards made to non profit arts organizations will be in amounts of $3k, $5k, or $10k, with some flexibility based on panel evaluation of scoring criteria, depending on the annual budget.

8. What should I know before I start?

This is a Federal grant program. Therefore, there are some federal requirements for accountability. Don’t worry, it’s easy to do, but you will need to do this before you can receive a grant.

  • Organizations will need to register for a Unique Employer Identifier (UEI) that reflects the organization’s legal name and current, physical address. You will need to submit your UEI to Creative Waco before you receive any grant funds. A UEI is easily requested through the System for Award Management ( [UEI VIDEO]
  • Grant recipients must not be disbarred, suspended, or have any other exclusions or disqualifications from doing business with the federal government. This typically results from fraudulent activity. If this applies to you or your organization, you will know. But you will need to “certify” to Creative Waco that you are not excluded or disqualified. You will do this through your grant agreement.
  • Grant recipients will be required to have a bank account, and to track all expenditures made under this award and retain all financial records and other supporting documents related to the award for at least three years from the date you submit your final report.
  • Grant recipients must ensure that any funded activity is implemented in full accordance with the US Constitution, Federal Law, and public policy requirements: including, but not limited to, those protecting free speech, religious liberty, public welfare, the environment, and prohibiting discrimination.

Creative Waco requirements: Before receiving funds, all grant recipients (individuals and organizations) will need to:

  • sign a grant agreement
  • sign a copy of program Terms and Conditions, plus an IRS form W-9. 
  • attend an orientation meeting which will explain all reporting requirements.

At the end of the grant period, you will need to:

  • complete a report saying how the grant was used and what impact it had.
  • provide accounting details for how funds were used. (Receipts may be requested by Creative Waco staff above and beyond a list of expenditures)

9. What are the specific goals for Creative Waco’s NEA - ARP grant program?

  1. To facilitate post-pandemic recovery (social, economic, and/or educational)
  2. To connect diverse people and spark healing, understanding, joy or kindness
  3. To develop, support, or retain outstanding diverse artistic talent
  4. To reach, include, and benefit traditionally underrepresented communities

10. Are there any restrictions?

These grant funds cannot be used for:

  • For-profit corporations.
  • Institutions of primary and secondary education.
  • Local governments or government related agencies.
  • Projects whose main purpose is fundraising. 
  • Individuals or organizations unable to supply the required documentation.
  • Individuals, organizations or projects that serve a political or religious ideology.
  • Capital purchases
  • Mortgage payments
  • Re-granting
  • General fundraising
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Costs supported by any other federal funding
  • Lobbying
  • Personal expenses

Creative Waco reserves the right to evaluate applications for eligibility based on the intended goals and purpose of these funds.

11. How do I apply?

Applications will be completed online and submitted through Creative Waco in two stages. Stage 1 is very simple and will ensure you are eligible before putting in more work for Stage 2. If language, access to technology, or other factors present a barrier for your organization, please reach out to Sol Bautista for accommodations:

Please be ready to describe:

Individual Artist/Creative

  • Vision for your artwork, project or program.
  • Who will be impacted by your work?
  • Financial and budget data.
  • Project based timeline.


Mission, programming and audience details
Staff and Board demographics
Artistic/Program History and Work samples
Financial and budget data, including financial statements for your most recently completed fiscal year.

12. How will applications be reviewed?

Grant Panelists/Reviewers:
Your application will be reviewed by a panel of diverse community members with knowledge of the arts and of our community. If you are interested in serving on the roster of panelists for this program, please contact


Review Criteria (all applications):

  1. Evidence of artistic merit
  2. Ability to perform the described program or activities
  3. Potential for community benefit

13. What happens next?

  • To apply, please complete a Phase 1 application. We will check that your application is eligible and a good fit for NEA - ARP funds. You might be asked some basic questions about your project.
  • You will be contacted within two weeks of the Phase 1, at which time you will be informed if you are eligible to submit a Phase 2 full application.
  • You will be contacted within three weeks of submitting your Phase 2 application to inform you if you are invited to schedule a short interview. Interviews are an opportunity to say more and answer questions about your application.
  • You’ll hear if your application was recommended for a grant within 3 working days of the interview. Funding will be released on a timeline appropriate to each individual project.
  • The whole process from Phase 1 application to grant decision should take no more than six weeks.
  • If successful, you will need to complete the documentation described in section 8 above.

14. What if I need help?

Application Support

Director of Professional Development and Outreach, Sol Bautista, will be available to assist with Spanish language and some technical assistance in completing this application. Please email Sol if you need specialized support: