City of Asheville partners with ArtsAVL on Event Support Grant

Press release from ArtsAVL:

Last night, Asheville City Council unanimously voted to allow the City Manager to enter into an agreement with ArtsAVL to administer a new Event Support Grant. The program will allow ArtsAVL to reimburse cultural and arts-related nonprofit events for certain City fees and charges.

The vote comes after years of uncertainty for the City’s Strategic Event Partnership Program. Since 2010, the City of Asheville’s Strategic Event Partnership program has allowed for fee waivers and, in some cases, in-kind labor support for special events produced by select 501c nonprofit organizations. However, government support of independent events held in public space must not be based on content, and concerns about preferential programs caused the City to rethink the program in 2019. These efforts were tabled when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and baseline services were extended for current partners. In 2022, the future of the program was again in question and the City even briefly considered ending the program all together.

Since that time, ArtsAVL has worked with City staff to find an alternative solution. As a result, City Council voted to discontinue the Strategic Event Partnership program at last night’s meeting and replace the program with the new Event Support Grant administered by ArtsAVL.

“Our large community events and festivals are part of what makes Asheville so special,” says ArtsAVL Executive Director Katie Cornell. “They also support local jobs, emerging entrepreneurs, surrounding businesses, residents, and visitors. The pandemic dealt a major blow to these event operators and the rising costs of supplies and services have made bouncing back even more difficult. ArtsAVL is thrilled to be able to help provide some relief through this new grant program.”

ArtsAVL was selected as the partner for this program because the organization has been administering grant funding to artists and arts organizations in Buncombe County since 1979. In fact, this will be the fifth grant programcurrently administered by ArtsAVL. They are also the one and only arts agency officially designated by Buncombe County to distribute Federal, State, and County arts funding on behalf of the County. Over the last five years, ArtsAVL invested nearly $1M into the local arts community through 325+ grants, including Arts and Culture block grant funding on behalf of Buncombe County.

“This is great news for Asheville events,” said The Big Crafty co-founder Justin Rabuck, who also serves as Public Art, Community Events, & Festivals Chair for ArtsAVL’s Arts Coalition. “ArtsAVL has a great track record of working with local event producers and artists and will bring its understanding of our distinct community needs to bear on this process.”

ArtsAVL has spent considerable time over the last few years ensuring that its grant programs are transparent, accessible, well promoted, and that adequate support services are provided. Last year, 34% of the grants awarded by ArtsAVL went to BIPOC-led organizations and artists, and 61% to underserved communities.

Between September 5 and October 2, eligible nonprofit organizations can apply for financial support for events that are free and open to the public and permitted within Asheville’s streets, parks, and outdoor public spaces. Grants typically range from $3,000-$10,000, but the amount can be higher or lower depending on the organization’s needs.

The Event Support Grant was created to preserve public arts and cultural programming in Asheville’s outdoor public spaces. Priority will be given to proposals that increase exposure to the arts and promote a high quality of life for residents. Nonprofits should have been operating for at least one year and have a physical presence in Buncombe County. Funds will be dispersed as reimbursements after the event takes place and are restricted to:

  • Application fees and alcohol permit fees
  • Property use fees
  • Street closure permit fees
  • Temporary use permit fees (structural/electrical/fire)
  • Transit impact fees
  • Barricade and cone rentals
  • Parking closure fees

Jon Fillman, Community Event Manager for the City of Asheville, shares: “The City already offers a 75% discount on the fees for permits and property use to all nonprofit organizations. These grant awards will provide financial assistance for the remaining 25% of permit and property use fees, the costs of barricade rentals for street closures, fees for parking closures, transit impact fees, and various administrative fees. ArtsAVL’s new Event Support Grant leverages city support to make public space more affordable for nonprofit arts-focused events which continue to be a catalyst in Asheville’s development as an arts-forward, equitable, and inclusive community.”

Awards will be announced in mid-November, and funds will be available for reimbursement starting in January of 2024. Programs may take place between January 1 and December 31, 2024, and a final performance report and reimbursement request is due within 60 days of the event date.

Apply and find more information – including full eligibility guidelines – at


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