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Panel Review Process

Italian Cultural Garden

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. Panelists are charged with evaluating all eligible applications at a public panel meeting or through a written review online.


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. 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. Some panelists will conduct a written review only (no convening); 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.

Shortly after the conclusion of panel, CAC staff notifies applicants of their score and whether 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 panel review meetings for the 2024 grant period took place in September 2023, and are available to watch on our YouTube page.

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

panelists in a Zoom call