OUR TOWN: Unallowable Activities/Costs

The activities and costs listed below are not allowable, and should not be included as part of your project or budget. This includes activities/costs covered by cost share/matching funds.

Unallowable Activities

  • General operating or seasonal support.
  • Direct grants to individuals.
  • Individual elementary or secondary schools -- charter, private, or public -- directly. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. If a single school also is a local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as a local education agency.
  • Projects that replace arts instruction provided by an arts specialist.
  • Generally, courses in degree-granting institutions.
  • Literary publishing that does not focus on contemporary literature and/or writers.
  • Generally, publication of books, exhibition of works, or other projects by the applicant organization's board members, faculty, or trustees.
  • Generally, exhibitions of, and other projects that primarily involve, single, individually-owned, private collections.
  • Projects for which the selection of artists or art works is based upon criteria other than artistic excellence and artistic merit. Examples include festivals, exhibitions, or publications for which no jury/editorial/curatorial judgment has been applied.
  • Social activities such as receptions, parties, galas, community dinners, and potlucks/picnics.
  • Awards to individuals or organizations to honor or recognize achievement.
  • Commercial (for-profit) enterprises or activities, including arts markets, concessions, food, T-shirts, artwork, or other items for resale. This includes online or virtual sales/shops.
  • Lobbying, including activities intended to influence the outcome of elections or influence government officials regarding pending legislation, either directly or through specific lobbying appeals to the public.
  • Voter registration drives and related activities.
  • Construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities. (Design fees, preparing space for an exhibit, installation or de-installation of art, and community planning are allowable. However, no NEA or cost share/matching funds may be directed to the costs of physical construction or renovation or toward the purchase costs of facilities or land.)
  • Subgranting or regranting, except for state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, or local arts agencies that are designated to operate on behalf of their local governments or are operating units of city or county government. (See more information on subgranting.)

Certain Unallowable Costs

  • Cash reserves and endowments.
  • Costs for the creation of new organizations.
  • Costs to bring a project into compliance with federal grant requirements. This includes environmental or historical assessments or reviews and the hiring of individuals to write assessments or reviews or to otherwise comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Expenditures related to compensation to foreign nationals and/or travel to or from foreign countries when those expenditures are not in compliance with regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control. For further information, see https://ofac.treasury.gov/about-ofac or contact our Office of Grants Management at grants@arts.gov.
  • Project costs supported by any other federal funding. This includes federal funding received either directly from a federal agency (e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities, Housing and Urban Development, National Science Foundation, or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak); or indirectly from a pass-through organization such as a state arts agency, regional arts organization, or a grant made to another entity.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Purchase and/or use of gift cards and gift certificates to support project costs.
  • Gifts and prizes, including cash prizes as well as other items (e.g., electronic devices, gift certificates) with monetary value.
  • Contributions and donations to other entities, including donation drives.
  • General miscellaneous or contingency costs.
  • Fines and penalties, bad debt costs, deficit reduction.
  • Marketing expenses that are not directly related to the project.
  • Audit costs that are not directly related to a single audit (formerly known as an A-133 audit).
  • Rental costs for home office workspace owned by individuals or entities affiliated with the applicant organization.
  • The purchase of vehicles.
  • Visa costs paid to the U.S. government.
  • Costs incurred before the beginning or after the completion of the official period of performance.

All applicants should carefully review the Assurance of Compliance and Appendix A of our General Terms and Conditions (GTC) which detail other requirements that govern awards.