FY21/22 Festival Funding

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Background on Festivals and Special Events Request for Proposals (RFP)

The City of Durham recognizes that festivals, parades, and other celebrations play an important role in fostering community well-being, creating local identity, and in contributing to an improved quality of life of Durham residents and visitors. Community-based festivals and events reflect the vibrant, distinct and diverse character of Durham and its residents while offering opportunities to create economic, social, health and community benefits. The City of Durham sought proposals from qualified entities to support virtual and/or in-person events for FY21/22 year for new or existing cultural and arts festivals and special events occurring between July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. 

The goals of the FY21/22 Festival and Special Events Funding are to support organizations and events that:  

  • Encourage awareness of art, history and/or culture,
  • Create vibrancy for Durham’s communities,
  • Promote equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, 
  • Benefit Durham’s economy and communities, and
  • Demonstrate organizational efficiency and effectiveness. 

The City may support festivals, events, parades, and other celebrations in the circumstances where economic and social benefits are provided for the community and the eligibility criteria are met. The level of support by the City of Durham is determined by: 

  • Available funding and other demands on the City’s annual budget,
  • Economic and Social benefits of the Festival or Special Event to the community,
  • Durham community’s support of the Festival or Special Event,
  • Level of Community support of previous Festival or Special Events held in the proposed location or organized by the same organization, and
  • Expressions of interest received by the City of Durham in providing other festivals/events.


Please review the Request for Proposals (RFP) for proposal requirements and eligibility. All necessary documents are available below. The application form must be completed and submitted in the form provided. The Review Criteria document is used by the Durham Cultural Advisory Board (DCAB) during their review and recommendation of proposals during their August 2021 meeting. The DCAB August 2021 meeting is open to the public. Recommendations from DCAB are submitted to City Administration and City Council.  

Please click on the links below to save the files to your computer. The Proposal Form cannot be saved or completed online. Adobe Reader DC or higher can be used to review the documents. To download the latest version of Adobe Reader, click here: https://get.adobe.com/reader/.

Request for Proposals

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Proposal Form

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Review Criteria 

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Proposal Attachments 1 - 5 

Attachment 1: Letter of Determination from the IRS stating nonprofit status

Required. For more information on nonprofit status from the IRS is available here:  https://www.irs.gov/charities-and-nonprofits. Preferred format: PDF document(s)

Attachment 2: Charitable Solicitation License 

Required. Not-for-profit organizations are required to complete a Charitable Solicitation License from the North Carolina Secretary of State, unless they are determined to be exempt.  "Any organization or person that intends to directly solicit contributions in North Carolina, or intends to hire a person or business to solicit contributions in North Carolina, must first obtain a license from the Charities Division. Organizations must renew their licenses each year to maintain licensed status." More information on Charitable Solicitation Licensing can be found on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website, here:  https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/charities  or https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/charities/licensing. Preferred format: PDF document(s)

Attachment 3: One-page Budget of Festival/Event including the income & expenses

Required. The Budget attachment must be one-page. The applicant must outline requested City expenses and outline the income and expenses related to the proposed festival and/or special event. The budget should be provided as e-file. Example of formatting can be found in the RFP document. Preferred format: PDF document(s) 

Attachment 4: Report on Organization’s Board and Staff Demographics 

Required. Based on the recommendation of the Durham Cultural Advisory Board to address goal 3 of the RFP (promotes equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility), the respondents shall provide aggregated data (percentages) of the not-for-profit board member and festival staff demographic information. Example of formatting can be found in the RFP document. Preferred format: PDF document(s) 

Attachment 5: Support Materials

Optional. Maximum of 5 files; no more than 10 pages per file. For example, respondents may include photographs, images, media, news articles, videos, marketing campaigns, etc. to convey the past and future festival and special event activities. Preferred format: PDF document(s)


The Proposal Packet, including the proposal form and outlined attachments, must be submitted via email to [email protected]  

The deadline to submit the Proposal Packet was MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 2021 BY 3:00 P.M. EST. This RFP has closed.

Any technical questions or issues on the submission process should be emailed to the Cultural and Public Art Program Manger, Rebecca Brown, with the Arts, Culture, and Sustainable Communities Division of City’s General Services Department at [email protected] prior to Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

Timeline & Deadlines 

Announcement of RFP 

Friday, July 9, 2021

RFP Process Open
Friday, July 9 – Monday, August 9, 2021

Workshop: Session One

Thursday, July 15, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. EST  

Workshop: Session Two
Wednesday, July 28, 2021, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. EST

RFP Drop-In Office Hours via Zoom 

Monday, August 2, 2021, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. EST 

Deadline to submit questions about the RFP in writing via email. Questions submitted after this date may not receive a response from City staff.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 by 3:00 p.m. EST

Deadline to submit Proposal Packet via email.

Monday, August 9, 2021 by 3:00 p.m. EST 

Delays caused by any delivery service, including the email provider, will not be grounds for an extension of the proposal due date and/or time. Faxed and hard copy mailed proposals are not acceptable.  

Confirmation Receipt from the City of Durham

Friday, August 13, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.

Durham Cultural Advisory Board reviews and scores applications.
August 16 - 27, 2021
Zoom meeting on August 18, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.

DCAB submits recommendations to City Administration 

September 2021 

City Administration submits recommended funding request to City Council and/or City leadership 

October - November 2021 

Awarded Applications should enter a contract by 

December 31, 2021

WORKSHOPS & Office Hours 

City staff hosts RFP Overview Workshops and Office Hours virtually on Zoom for interested applicants to review the RFP process and proposal form. Registration is required. 

Workshop: Session One

Thursday, July 15, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. EST  

Registration is closed.

Workshop: Session Two
Wednesday, July 28, 2021, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. EST
Registration is closed.

Drop-In Office Hours
Monday, August 2, 2021, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. EST
Registration is closed.

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Workshop Presentation 



Who's eligible to apply?
The applicants must be not-for-profit organizations or partner with a not-for-profit as their fiscal agent.

Can my organization apply for virtual events? 
Yes, organizations can submit proposals for new and creative approaches to festivals and special events, including virtual events. 

The festival has been cancelled this fall, can I apply for next fall? 
Yes, organizations can submit proposals for festivals and special events through December 2022. Please note if another RFP Festival and Special Event process is available in FY21/22 from the City of Durham, the organization cannot apply for the same festival awarded in FY20/21 in the new RFP cycle in FY21/22. 

Can the event be held on the same day as a holiday or another festival? 
Yes, the event can be held on the same day as a holiday or another festival. We encourage organizations to submit proposals that do not duplicate existing events or festivals. Also, we encourage organizations to collaborate with other organizations and festivals in during the planning and promotion of the event.

Can my not-for-profit act as a fiscal agent for more than one festival organization?  
Yes, not-for-profits may act as fiscal agents for more than one festival or special event organization that is not itself a not-for-profit. 

Form & Budget 

For the character count limits for the questions, do spaces count as characters? 
The character limit for each goal section of the application does not count spaces, only characters. Each goal section varies in character limit, and the character limit is noted on the top of the page and/or goal section.

What is a good ratio of funding to request?  
The RFP does not have minimum cash matching to City requested funds requirements, however, strong proposals will provide a cash match in addition to any in-kind contribution. The festival or special event must be supported by budgets which are distinct from the regular operating budget of the lead organizations. Details of other external funding and assistance being sought should be outlined the proposal packet.  

Should I list in-kind contributions in the one-page budget?  
Yes, if your organization has in-kind contributions like volunteer time or donated services or goods. In-kind contributions are not required.  

Review process 

What’s the Durham Cultural Advisory Board and what is their role in the proposal review?  
The Durham Cultural Advisory Board (DCAB) serves as an advisory body to the City of Durham’s City Council and City Manager, and the Board of County Commissioners and County Manager. DCAB provides recommendations regarding the implementation of the arts and cultural policy and to advocate for the arts in Durham. Learn more about DCAB here: https://durhamnc.gov/452/Durham-Cultural-Advisory-Board.

The City will use the DCAB as an evaluation committee to evaluate all proposals. The evaluation will be based on the relevant experience, qualifications, purpose, and capabilities of the responding party including project methodology, as well as consideration for clients served. The Review Criteria form outlines measures and scores for the RFP’s five goals. The Durham Cultural Advisory Board members provide individual and collective assessment of the RFP proposals using this form. DCAB's collective assessment occurs during their monthly Zoom meeting on August 18, 2021 at 3:00 p.m., which is open to the public. Please contact [email protected] to register for the meeting. DCAB’s summary meeting minutes are available to public here: https://durhamnc.gov/452/Durham-Cultural-Advisory-Board.   

After the meeting, DCAB submits their collective recommendations to City administration and/or City Council to make the final funding decisions.  


All RFP questions must be submitted in writing via email to Rebecca Brown, [email protected], by Tuesday, August 3, 2021 by 3:00 p.m. EST.