How Grants are Processed
TCA staff are available year-round to assist with the application process and provide feedback on draft proposals in advance of the deadline. TCA staff reviews all applications for completeness and compliance with eligibility criteria. Eligible applications are reviewed during an evaluation panel meeting. Based on the rankings of the evaluators and available funds, staff makes award recommendations to the Commissioners at their meetings. Applicants not recommended for funding will be notified prior to the Commission Meeting and may appeal using the TCA appeal form. The Commission makes final funding decisions on applications. Applicants are notified of Commission action by mail and through their online account.
Prior to the Panel Evaluation
Once grant applications are submitted online to TCA, they are reviewed for completeness and eligibility. Supporting attachments are received in the mail and matched with the online applications. Applications are assigned to TCA program staff members by artistic discipline and/or grant program. The assigned TCA staff member reviews the application in depth and notifies applicants if additional information is needed in advance of the evaluation panel meeting.
At the evaluation panel meeting, staff members participate in the discussion about each application only by providing objective information and clarifying Texas Commission on the Arts policies.
Role of Evaluation Panels
Evaluation panels provide expert guidance so that the Commission can make objective decisions in awarding grants. Evaluation panels do not make dollar recommendations or funding decisions. The purpose of each panel is to provide qualitative and professional evaluations of applications based on the application review criteria. Applications may be assigned to each evaluator for in-depth review and presentation at the evaluation panel meeting. For some evaluation panels, evaluators will be able to review required attachments submitted with the applications. Evaluators also provide advice to the Commission and staff on matters of policy.
Types and Composition of Evaluation Panels
Evaluation panels are based on discipline and grant program. The number of evaluators and composition of the panels varies according to the number of applications received in the discipline and grant program. Evaluators must be residents of Texas. TCA builds evaluation panels based on:
- Professional qualifications
- Broad-based knowledge of the arts field
- Representation of a variety of genres within each artistic discipline
- Geographic distribution
- Representation of gender, race, and disability populations
- Experience in organizations of different sizes
- Individual artists
- Variety of roles in arts administration
Nominations for Evaluators
Nominations may be made by any interested individual or organization in Texas. Nominations are accepted year-round, and can include self-nominations.
Nominations can be submitted on the TCA Evaluation Panel Nomination Form and include:
- A statement of the nominee's qualifications, specifically addressing panel membership
- A copy of the nominee's resume
The proposed slate of evaluators will be presented to the TCA Commissioners, who modify or adopt the slate. Nomination to TCA's evaluation panels does not guarantee selection.
- Length of Term
Evaluation panel members are asked to serve a one-year term. Evaluators may be asked to serve consecutive terms to take advantage of their experience.
With the Commissionís approval, TCA staff may appoint substitute evaluators in the case of unexpected vacancies. Evaluators who move out of state during their term are no longer eligible to serve.
Evaluation Panel Process
TCA has 3 grants processes: Multi-year, Semi-annual, and Quarterly.
Before the meeting, packets are mailed to evaluators. Packets include meeting logistics, copies of all applications to be reviewed, and information on evaluation/scoring.
When the meeting convenes, staff will conduct an orientation session with evaluators to answer any questions about the process and funding policies.
For each application, evaluators discuss strengths and weaknesses, give constructive comments, and maintain a high level of professionalism. A TCA staff moderator will run the panel meeting, and will keep discussions moving and consistent with review criteria. Moderators do not take part in the review and do not score applications. If an evaluator has a conflict of interest with an application, they must remove themselves from the discussion and will not be allowed to score that application.
Staff will collect all ballots, calculate the average score for each application, and prepare a list of all applications ranked from the highest to lowest score.
Based on the final scores and ranking of all applications and available funds, staff will develop funding recommendations. This is a competitive process, so generally not all applications will receive funding. As scores decrease, the percentage of recommended grant funds also will decrease. All funding recommendations are presented to the TCA Commissioners for final approval.
Evaluators are sent copies of all applications to be reviewed, a scoring ballot, and information on evaluation/scoring. Applications are scored and commented upon by evaluators.
Based on the ranking of all applications and available funds, staff will develop funding recommendations. This is a competitive process, so generally not all applications will receive funding. As rankings decrease, the percentage of recommended grant funds also will decrease. All funding recommendations are presented to the TCA Commissioners for final approval.
After each application is complete, TCA staff will develop funding recommendations. These are emailed to the evaluators for their comments. Upon a majority approval by evaluators, the funding recommendations are taken to the upcoming quarterly meeting for the Commissionís approval.
See the Application Review Criteria used by the evaluators to assess all applications.
The Commission's decisions will be based on the availability of funds, the merits of the application, and ongoing assessment of the needs of the field.
The Commissioners review recommendations from the evaluation panel and staff. The Commissioners must vote to approve the final grant awards. TCA has a policy that allows Commissioners to abstain from voting based on a conflict of interest.
Applicants who believe their proposals for funding or approval were rejected for the following two reasons may appeal to the Commission for reconsideration using the TCA appeal form:
- influence of evaluation panel or Commissioners who willfully failed to disclose conflicts of interest; or
- provision of incorrect information by the TCA staff or evaluators at the time of voting, despite the presence of the correct information as part of the original application.
The applicant must be able to show a link between one of these circumstances and a low score or rating and/or negative panel comment. Failure to submit a complete application by the deadline does not constitute grounds for an appeal. Dissatisfaction with the denial of a grant or with the amount of the grant is an insufficient reason for appeal.
Appeals must be presented through the appeal form to the Deputy Director. The Deputy Director shall consider the appeal and issue a written recommendation for the Commissionersí consideration. The applicant will be notified after the Commissionersí final decision.
All decisions of the Commission are final.
© Texas Commission on the Arts