How are organizations and projects selected to receive grants?

As the public funder for arts and culture in Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture strives to uphold its values of stewardship and trust in all of its work, especially in its panel review process. Each fall, CAC convenes a panel of diverse arts and cultural professionals from outside our region. They are recruited and carefully vetted by staff and reviewed by the Board of Trustees. Panelists are charged with evaluating all eligible applications at a panel meeting that is open to the public. CAC also conducts panel reviews online.

Note: In response to COVID-19, all panels will be held online in 2020.


Preparation is essential to the success of the entire application review process. CAC takes seriously our role in preparing panelists to serve as an extension of our team. Months before the panel review meeting, CAC trains and sets expectations for panelists. All panelists review and score application and support materials in advance.


Applicants and community members are welcome and encouraged to attend the public panel review meetings, which are streamed online. Recordings are archived online after the meetings conclude. CAC also conducts some panel reviews online; the results of these panels will be made available on the CAC website.

While all are encouraged to attend the public process, the panel review meeting is not a conversation between applicants and panelists. Specific instances require two-way dialogue between attendees and the panelists, but are not common. Panelists discuss each application for up to six minutes, assessing it against CAC’s funding criteria of Public Benefit, Artistic & Cultural Vibrancy and Organizational Capacity. CAC’s staff serve as the panel chairs to guide and moderate the panel discussion and administer the panel process. Staff and board members do not take part in the scoring of applications. 


Organizations whose applications receive a score above a pre-established cut-off score or meet the criteria, which vary between programs, are recommended to receive funding.
review panel

review panel


Shortly after the conclusion of panel, CAC staff notifies applicants of their score and whether or not they will be recommended for funding. In November, CAC’s Board of Trustees meets to review and approve the panel scores and grant amounts. This meeting is open to the public, and applicants are invited to attend.

After the application review process and panel review are complete, CAC evaluates both applicants and panelists for feedback to help us improve our programs each year.

Our latest panel review meetings were held on October 5-6, 2020 for the 2021 Project Support I program. The 2021 Project Support II panel was conducted online.

The panel review meetings were streamed live online on October 5-6. Interested individuals were able to watch here and follow the panel's progress on Twitter (@CuyArtsC) for live updates throughout the meetings.


Interested in serving as a panelist for CAC? Please complete the panelist interest form.