Arlington County Policy for the Support of Arts Organizations and Artists

(as approved by the Arlington County Board on December 8, 1990)


Recognizing the important role that cultural activities play in determining quality of life, Arlington County (the "County") has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to support the arts. The following goals are set forth in the furtherance of this commitment:

  1. To create a climate within the County that is conducive to the growth and development of Arlington's artists and arts organizations through public and private support.
  2. To foster the development of excellence and diversity in the arts insuring that a varied program of cultural activities is available to satisfy the interests of Arlington's citizens.
  3. To guarantee to all artists and arts organizations an open and fair policy which assures equal access to County arts resources.
  4. To encourage development of a public/private partnership in support of the arts.

By providing facilities, financial and technical support and administrative services to artists and cultural organization, the County seeks to help these artists and cultural organizations establish themselves in the County, develop a broad base of financial and community support, and improve their artistic, technical and managerial competence.

It is the policy of the County to support artistic freedom and artistic creativity so long as this support helps the County achieve the goals set forth in this statement of policy, and thus the Commission will not exercise control over artistic endeavors of or impose content restrictions on recipients of County resources.


The Arlington Commission for the Arts (the "Commission") is responsible for distribution of arts resources available to the County from public and private sources among Arlington artists and cultural organizations during each fiscal year of the County (the "grant period"). Resources available to the County from these sources may include facilities, financial support, administrative services and technical support.

Depending upon available resources, the Commission will be (i) allocating to individual artists and organizations facilities, administrative services and technical support, and (ii) making recommendations to the County Board to fund specific projects proposed by organizations and individual artists and for general operating support for organizations.

Eligibility for Support

A. Organizations

In order to be eligible to receive County resources (e.g. facilities, administrative services, limited technical support), an organization must:

  1. Be headquartered in and have an identity with Arlington County and perform, produce or present arts events primarily within Arlington County.
  2. Provide access to the arts for Arlington citizens at reasonable costs.
  3. Demonstrate the artistic and managerial skills that are appropriate for the type and nature of the organization.
  4. Demonstrate participant or community interest and support or the potential to generate this interest and support (e.g., audience, funding, membership, etc.).
  5. Comply with Title VI, Section 601, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that no person, on the grounds of race, color or national origin, shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
  6. Comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which states that no otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of the person's handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

In order to be eligible to receive financial or extensive technical support, an organization must meet all of the criteria listed above, and:

  1. Be governed by a volunteer board of directors that reflects diverse community representation.
  2. Be recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code or have applied for tax exempt status and be utilizing County resources for an appropriate, charitable purpose.
  3. Produce a regular program of performances, exhibitions, readings classes, etc., that is consistent with the medium and mission of the organization.
  4. Not have violated any conditions imposed by the Commission in connection with any support granted in any previous grant period.

B. Individuals

In order for an individual artist to be eligible to receive County resources, he/she must:

  1. Be a practicing artist producing, composing, writing, presenting or supporting dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts or related arts; and
  2. Have given, performed or exhibited, or have had works written or composed, read or performed, in either case to the public at least twice in the past three calendar years.

In order for an individual artist to receive financial support, he/she must meet all the criteria listed above, and:

  1. Be a legal resident of the County;
  2. Not previously received financial support from the County within the prior two grant periods;
  3. Not have violated any condition imposed by the Commission in connection with any previous Commission funded project; and
  4. Be seeking funds for a specific project (as distinguished from general operations funding) which results in the provision of a product or service that will be available to the public for the benefit of Arlington County.

Application Process

The application process for those organizations and individuals meeting the eligibility requirements commences with the submission of an Application for Support form to the Cultural Affairs Division. Division staff will audit the application and if appropriate and necessary will interview the applicant in preparation for the application's referral to advisory panel(s). These panels, appointed by the Commission, will review applications in detail and recommend the appropriate level of support for the applicant to the Commission. The Commission for the Arts will, in turn, utilize staff and advisory panel recommendations and information to develop its recommendations to the County Board regarding level of funding and its decisions regarding the distribution of facilities and services.

A letter of Agreement will be negotiated between the County and those applicants approved for support during the grant period.

Applicants who are refused the support requested may appeal to the Commission in writing.

Criteria for Evaluating Applications

Taking into account the current cultural program balance and diversity within the County, the Commission will use the following criteria to determine if support of an applicant with County resources is warranted:

  1. Artistic excellence or artistic growth exhibited by the applicant
  2. Service to the community by the applicant
  3. Diversity of community interest and involvement in the organization's programs.
  4. Managerial competence and growth of the applicant
  5. Demonstration of a commitment of the applicant to the County's minority or ethnic interests.