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  How does the Council review grant applications?

The Council uses a multi-step process involving program staff, peer review panels, a committee of Council members, and the full Council, as described in more detail below.

Staff Review  

The Council’s program and administrative staff verify applicant eligibility and review application materials according to the Council's primary criteria and program- and category-specific guidelines. Staff may meet with representatives of the organization, visit facilities, and attend programs to become familiar with the organization and its work. Staff review may be supplemented by reports from field representatives who have expertise in a particular art form.

Peer Review Panels and the Rating System

In each program category, the peer panel convenes with program staff present. The panel is composed of at least seven people and represents a diverse group of professionals from across the state. Each member has relevant and specific expertise. NYSCA accepts nominations for panelists from the general public. To nominate an individual for panel service consideration, visit the panelist nomination page. The panel discusses, evaluates and rates each request according to the Council's criteria.

The panel ratings form the basis for staff funding recommendations to the designated Council Committee.

Rating System






Exceptionally strong (model and standard for field or discipline with essentially no weaknesses)



Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses



Very strong with some minor weaknesses


Very Good

Strong with numerous minor weaknesses



Strong but with at least one moderate weakness



Some strengths but with some moderate weaknesses



Some strengths but with at least one major weakness



A few strengths and a few major weaknesses



Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Minor Weakness:  An easily addressable weakness that does not substantially lessen impact.

Moderate Weakness:  A weakness that lessens impact.

Major Weakness:  A weakness that severely limits impact.

Any application that scores below a three (3) in any one of the criteria areas will be ineligible for funding regardless of how well they scored in the other criteria areas.

Council Committees and the Council

There are two committees composed of Council Members: (1) Multi-Arts and (2) Performing, Literary Arts and Visual Arts. Funding recommendations and panel ratings are presented to the designated Committee for review and discussion. 

After review and discussion, the Committees make funding recommendations to the full Council. All Council Committee meetings and Council meetings are open to the public and are webcast. The Council’s meeting agenda is posted at https://www.nysca.org/ in advance of all meetings and is available for review by the public.  

The full Council reviews the Council Committees’ funding recommendations and votes on the grant award recommendations. Upon Council approval of a grant and subsequent grantee notification, Cultural Service Contracts are issued to the organizations awarded funding.

Can an organization appeal a funding decision?

An applicant may appeal the Council's funding decision. The appeals procedure is set forth in Part 6401 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.  To review the Appeals Rules click here. Appeals are decided by an Appeals Panel with a minimum of seven members. No members of the Appeals Panel will have participated on the panels which reviewed the applications being appealed. The recommendations of the Appeals Panel are presented to the full Council to be reviewed and decided upon. The Council’s decision on an appeal is final and not appealable.

In summary: the process requires that the applicant obtain a verbal statement of the basis for the Council’s decision. Requests for statements should be made to the program referred to in the letter notifying the applicant of the Council’s decision. If, after reviewing the statement, the organization wishes to pursue an appeal, the appeal must be made in writing to the Council’s Executive Director, and the letter must be received no later than 5:00pm on the 21st calendar day after the date of the Council’s notification letter to the applicant.  If the applicant has not been able to consult with the appropriate program within the time limitation, a written request to appeal must still be submitted within the 21 calendar day time period.

Thereafter, the applicant will receive a written response and in that response, a deadline for the submission of all allowable material supporting the appeal will be established. No deadline date will be set earlier than seven days from the date of the written response. Failure to meet any deadline date in the appeals process results in the loss of the right to appeal the Council decision.

The Appeals Panel evaluates the review process by which the initial grant decision was made and reviews the application and panel notes.  The panel does not review the artistic merit of the application.

Dissatisfaction with the denial of a grant or with the amount of the grant is not a valid ground for appeal. One or more of the following are valid grounds for appeal:

Nonpresentation of information
Information known to the Council staff prior to the Council's decision that was not presented and that might have altered the decision. 

Misrepresentation of information
Information known to the Council staff prior to the Council's decision that was changed in its presentation and that, if presented differently, might have altered the decision. 

Improper procedure
Contention by the applicant that: 1) the review of the funding request by the appropriate panel was biased; 2) the decision by the Council was arbitrary and capricious. 

If the appeal request is successful, the funding decision will be reconsidered by the appropriate program and  panel and then by the Council committee and the Council. In the case that the appeal is upheld based on panel bias, the decision will be reconsidered directly by the appropriate Council committee and then by the Council.

All appeals panel meetings are open to the public and are webcast. The Appeals Panel meeting agenda and discussion materials are posted on https://www.nysca.org/ in advance of the meeting and are available for review by the public.


The Freedom of Information Law, N.Y. Public Officers Law 84–90, grants the right of access to many public documents, including those of the Council on the Arts. 

Pursuant to New York’s Open Meetings Law, N.Y. Public Officers Law 100–111, meetings of the Council on the Arts are open to the public and are announced in advance.

Applicant statement

In order to ensure fairness in the application review process, applicants are strictly prohibited from contacting Panelists associated with and/or involved in the activities or affairs of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in any way to obtain or share information regarding the NYSCA application review process. This includes all activity associated with NYSCA at its main office, including panel discussions, and all communication with NYSCA staff including, but not limited to exchanges via email, telephone, or online system.

All data, materials, knowledge and information generated through, originating from, or having to do with NYSCA or persons associated with our activities, including contractors, is to be considered privileged and confidential and is not to be disclosed to any third party. This also includes, but is not limited to, any information of, or relating to, panel discussion, applications, and funding recommendations.

All inquiries about panel results and proceedings must be communicated to the NYSCA staff directly.


For information about the Appeals process, click here.

  2005 New York State Council on the Arts.