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2019-2021 Building for the Arts (BFA) Grant

Grants to Washington Nonprofits and Tribes
for Capital Projects in Cultural Facilities

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Washington State Department of Commerce

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

06/29/18 5:00 PM


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Grants to Washington nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and tribes to defray qualifying capital expenditures related to the construction, acquisition, or major renovation of cultural facilities. Eligible costs may include, but are not limited to, engineering and architectural work, building fees and permits, historical and archeological review, equipment, furnishings, information technology infrastructure, landscaping, and site preparation.

Building for the Arts

Building for the Arts was created by the Legislature in 1991 to award grants to performing arts, art museum, and cultural organizations. The program awards grants to performing arts, art museum, and cultural organizations for up to 20 percent of eligible capital costs for acquisition, construction, and/or major renovation of capital facilities.

Ranking  criteria  include:
-Ability to complete  the  project  expediently.
-Organizational  capacity  to  run  the  facility  effectively.
-Community need.
-Availability of other funding sources.

The state’s investment in these local projects provide:
-Temporary construction jobs.
-Permanent arts-related jobs.
-Improved quality of life for residents.

Eligible Costs:
-Design, architectural, and engineering work;
-Building permits/fees;
-Archeological/historical review;
-Construction labor and materials;
-Demolition/site preparation;
-Capitalized equipment;
-Information technology infrastructure (cables and wiring);
-Construction management (from external sources only)*;
-Initial furnishings**;
-Landscaping, and
-Real property when purchased specifically for the project, and associated costs.***

* Construction management and observation is on-site management and/or supervision of the work site and workers thereon. This is an eligible project cost. Construction management does not include work performed by off-site consultants or consultant organizations, grant writers, or employees of the grantee, unless the employee is hired solely and specifically to perform on-site construction management as defined above.

** Furnishings and equipment are considered eligible project costs as long as the aver- age useful life of the item purchased is 13 years or more.

*** Costs directly associated with property acquisition include appraisal fees, title opinions, surveying fees, real estate fees, title transfer taxes, easements of record, and legal expenses. However, BFA grants cannot reimburse a grantee the market-rate value of an existing reduced-cost lease.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 172727

Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum grant award for the 2019-2021 biennium is $2,000,000. There is no minimum grant award amount.

Term of Contract:

Capital budget funds may generally be used to pay for the following construction-related expenses incurred by the grantee as far back as July 1, 2016.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All facilities funded by BFA must meet the following eligibility standards at the time the application is submitted:
-Be a tribe or registered in the state of Washington as a nonprofit organization;
-Have binding control of the project site via ownership or executed longterm lease (15 years from the application date—no operating agreements);

-Have a legally constituted board of directors;
-Agree to enter the LEED certification process or receive an exemption;
-Agree to pay state prevailing wages as of the date the budget becomes effective; and
-Have made substantial progress in a capital fundraising campaign dedicated to the project or have secured all nonstate funding needed to complete the project.


Partnerships will be considered, but the nonprofit must be designated as the lead applicant, have control of the project site, and submit the application on behalf of the partnership.

The applicant must be a nonprofit organization that is primarily dedicated to arts-related activities — with one exception. The BFA Advisory Board will consider applications from nonprofit foundations qualified to raise funds for an otherwise ineligible organization.

For example, the applicant could be a foundation working in partnership with a tribe, or a governmental entity such as a public development authority.

All partnerships must provide a copy of an executed joint-operating agreement at the time of application that:
-Lasts a minimum of 15 years;
-Guarantees a minimum of 50 percent usage by community nonprofit arts organizations;
-Establishes which party has authority to set the facility's schedule; and
-Contains a contingency plan to address the possibility of dissolution or other change of ownership, with the objective being to protect public funds.

Public-nonprofit partnerships can be valuable in developing and sustaining arts and cultural facilities, particularly in under-represented areas. However, this grant program’s legislative intent is to fund nonprofits, which do not have the taxing and bonding authority of governmental entities. Therefore, public-nonprofit partnerships will be assessed for whether their project will primarily benefit the community at large rather than the participating public agency’s clients. These partnerships must also demonstrate financial need.

Mixed-use facilities may be considered, but these projects will be funded at 20 percent of the eligible capital cost of the arts-related component only.

LLCs and nonprofits:

The applicant’s facility may be owned by a limited liability corporation (LLC) as long as the nonprofit holds the majority interest (more than 50%) through the duration of a tax credit program.

At the conclusion of the commitment period the facility may be placed in an LLC if it is wholly owned by the nonprofit.

The applicant must be able to provide evidence of LLC ownership and stakeholders, usually in the form of an Operating Agreement.

Funding Restrictions:

Funds awarded under this program originate from the sale of state capital bonds, and include no federal funds.

The Department is mindful of the management pressures faced by nonprofits, and strive to administer BFA funds expediently and with a minimum of red tape. The Department does so within the policies and procedures established by the Legislature, the state Office of Financial Management, the Treasurer and the Office of the Attorney General. The Department must also comply with federal arbitrage regulations.

BFA awards are funded through an appropriation in the state capital budget. A grant can only be spent by the designated organization for costs that fit the scope of work listed in the grant application. In other words, the application becomes a controlling document that guides how the grant can be spent.

Ineligible Costs:

All grants are intended to fund bricks and mortar. This is why the following costs are not eligible for reimbursement and cannot be used to match state funds:

-Internal administrative activities;
-Project management (from any sources);
-Fundraising activities;
-Feasibility studies;
-Computers or office equipment;
-Rolling stock (such as vehicles);
-Lease payments for rental of equipment or facilities;
-Mortgage or property leases (including long-term); and
-The moving of equipment, furniture, etc., between facilities. 

Loan Paydowns:
BFA grants cannot be used to retire existing debt. However, once funds are reimbursed for eligible expenses they may then be used as such.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Free BFA Application Workshops are also available to meet with staff and help answer any and all of your questions. Please RSVP for the workshop of your choice by emailing

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
10:00 am to 12 pm
Spokane Community College
The Lair Student Center (Building 6)
1810 North Green Street
Spokane, WA 99217

Thursday, May 31, 2018
10:00 am to 12 pm
Radisson Hotel-Seattle Airport
San Juan Rooms 2 & 3
18118 International Boulevard
Seattle, WA 98188

These workshops are not mandatory, so if you cannot make it, a staff member will be able to give you a call or an email.

Pre-Application Information:

Application deadline Friday, June 29, 2018, at 5 p.m.

BFA grants may be used to pay up to 20 percent of eligible project costs; the remainder must come from non-state sources. Non-state matching funds may consist of cash on hand, document- ed pledge commitments, the value of land acquired for the project, and in-kind contributions when properly documented.

Grantees may also include the proceeds of a letter of credit or other binding loan commitment as part of their non-state matching funds. The value of land used as non-state match must be supported by a current appraisal performed by a certified professional appraiser or a county assessment.

Most projects are required to apply for LEED silver certification. However, renovation projects that involve a new addition to an existing building may not be eligible for LEED certification. Also, new construction projects under 5,000 square feet are exempt from this requirement.

All applicants are required to enter the LEED certification process or get an exemption. You may do the latter before applying for a BFA grant or as part of your application.

All applications for the 2019-2021 Round will be submitted electronically through ZoomGrants. Hard- copies are not accepted. Applications must be submitted to Commerce no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, June 29, 2018.

This is a reimbursement-style grant, and you may start drawing down funds only after all other money needed to complete the project has been raised. However, you can receive reimbursement for eligible costs incurred and paid by the grantee as far back as July 1, 2016.

The BFA program operates on a biennial (two-year) grant cycle. Grantees cannot begin receiving their funds until September of 2019. Applicants should be cautious in using these dates for cash-flow planning purposes. Grantees cannot access their funds until all requirements have been met.

-BFA grant application workshops (east/west) May 29 & May 31
-Applications due (no exceptions) June 29, 2018 at 5 p.m.
-Notification of preliminary review results July 2018
-BFA Advisory Board work session August 15, 2018
-Recommendations forwarded to governor September 2018
-Governor releases proposed capital budget December 2018 (estimated)
-2019-2021 Capital Budget signed into law June 2019 (estimated)
-Capital Facilities may begin disbursing funds September 2019 (estimated)
-Expiration of funds without legislative action June 30, 2021

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online through ZoomGrants:

Community Capital Facilities
Department of Commerce
Mailing / street address:
P.O. Box 42525
1011 Plum Street SE
Olympia, WA 98504-2525

P: (360)725-3075
F: (360)586-5880


Tony Hanson, Managing Director
(360) 725-3005

Rebecca Spencer, Real Estate Specialist
(360) 725-3076

Michael Kendall
Program Manager
(360) 725-3073

Sheryl Reed - BFA, Project Manager

Emily Hafford - BFA
Project Manager

Chuck Hunter - BCF, Project Manager

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington