Festivals & Special Events 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 is seeking proposals from qualified entities to support virtual and/or in-person events for FY24 year for new or existing cultural and arts festivals and special events occurring between July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024. 

The goals of the FY24 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.


The Proposal Packet, including the proposal form and outlined attachments, must be submitted via online platform Submittable.

The deadline to submit the Proposal Packet is FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 2023 BY 3:00 P.M. ET. 

Any technical questions or issues on the submission process should be emailed to [email protected] prior to Friday, July 28, 2023.


Please review the Request for Proposals (RFP) for proposal requirements and eligibility. The proposal package must be completed and submitted using the online application platform Submittable

The Review Criteria document is used by the Durham Cultural Advisory Board (DCAB) during their review and recommendation of proposals during their August meeting. The DCAB August 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 Request for Proposals and Review Criteria documents to your computer. Adobe Reader DC or higher can be used to review these documents. To download the latest version of Adobe Reader, click here: https://get.adobe.com/reader.


The following attachments are required as part of the online proposal portal on Submittable. Attachments 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 are required and Attachment 5 is optional.

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

RequiredFor 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 

RequiredNot-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

RequiredThe 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 an 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. Click on icon below for form.

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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)

Attachment 6: Contractor Workforce Diversity Questionnaire

Required. The Diversity Questionnaire will not be used as a factor in determining a recommendation for award; however, the completed Diversity Questionnaire will be required of the Contractor before any contract will be authorized for execution.  It is recommended that the Diversity Questionnaire be submitted at the same time as the Proposal in order to facilitate the processing of the Contractor’s information.  This form is not included as part of any submittal page maximum. Click on icon below for the form. 
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Attachment 7: Non-Collusion Affidavit

RequiredThe Non-Collusion Affidavit must be included in the RFP submission, as a signed, notarized document. Click on icon below for the form.Call for Artists Opens in new window


Announcement of RFP 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

RFP Process Open
Wednesday, July 12 – Friday, August 11, 2023

Workshop: Session One

Tuesday, July 18, 2023, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. ET 

Workshop: Session Two
Wednesday, July 19, 2023, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. ET  

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

Friday, July 28, 2023, by 3:00 p.m. ET 

RFP Drop-In Office Hours via Zoom 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. ET 


friday, AUGUST 11, 2023 BY 3:00 P.M. ET 

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

Confirmation Receipt from the City of Durham

Monday, August 14, 2023, by 5:00 p.m. ET 

If a respondent does not receive confirmation of receipt from the Project Manager, it is the responsibility of the respondent to contact the Cultural & Public Art Program.

Durham Cultural Advisory Board reviews and scores applications.
Monday, August 14 - Friday, August 25, 2023

DCAB submits recommendations to City Administration 

September 2023

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

September - October 2023

Respondents should receive confirmation of award based on City Administration approvals

November 2023

Awarded Applications should enter a contract by 

December 15, 2023


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. The presentation from the workshop is available here and below. 

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Workshop: Session One

Tuesday, July 18, 2023, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. ET  
Register here.  

Workshop: Session Two

Wednesday, July 19, 2023, 5:30-7:00 p.m. ET 
Register here.

Drop-In Office Hours

Tuesday, August 1, 2023, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. ET  
Register here.



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. 

When can the event be held? 
Organizations can submit proposals for festivals and special events through December 2024. Please note if another RFP Festival and Special Event process is available in FY24 from the City of Durham, the organization cannot apply for the same festival awarded in FY23 in the new RFP cycle in FY24. 

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. 

I am inquiring whether you're open to working with for-profit organizations?  
Organizers of festivals could partner with a non-profit, as defined in the RFP document above on page 5: "Applicants must be a legally formed not-for-profit entity in good standing with the NC Secretary of State and IRS or the festival/special event organization may partner with a not-for-profit fiscal agent in good standing with the NC Secretary of State and IRS."

We're awaiting our current "Charitable Solicitation License" from the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. What should we submit? 
From the Secretary of State's website, here, "Generally, 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. There are several statutory exemptions to this requirement. A person that qualifies for an exemption does not have to obtain or maintain a license."  

For the RFP for Festivals, if an organization does not provide any required documents including the Charitable Solicitation License, staff will notify the reviewing board (Durham Cultural Advisory Board) about the missing minimum requirements. The proposal may be considered non-responsive and their proposals will be rejected (RFP, Page 5). The board may choose to recommend the non-profit organization for funding even if the organization does not provide all required documents; in this case, the organization would be required to provide this required information or documentation prior to entering a contract with the City (RFP, page 5). In the past, organizations have submitted their application for the CSL as proof of actively seeking compliance with the State. From page 5 of the RFP "Must provide Proof of Tax-Exempt Status from the state and federal government as a part of the proposal process and prior to contract execution." 

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.  

Can our festival/event team work on the application at the same time?
Yes, you can work together on the application form. Submittable provides a Collaboration option on the proposal form. Multiple people to collaborate together on a collective the request for proposals. Even though all collaborators can work together, only the submission owner who originally began the application may submit the proposal. The submission owner is responsible for submitting an accurate, final proposal. For more information, visit here

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 in August, 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.  

Can you share, on average, how much is the City awarding grantees? And what is the total amount allotted in the fund?
The Project Manager estimates a budget allowance up to approximately $195,000 to be disseminated to multiple festival and special event approved Contractors (RFP, page 6).  Last year in FY23, the contracted awards ranged from $1,000 to $60,000, with an average of $13,000. The City funded 15 organizations in FY23.  RFP Document is available above for more information. 


All RFP questions must be submitted in writing via email to [email protected] by Friday, July 28, 2023 by 3:00 p.m. ET.

RFP Project Manager: 
Rebecca Brown
Cultural and Public Art Program, General Services Department
Telephone: (919) 560-4197 ext. 21245
E-mail: [email protected]