What is ArtsFirst?

ArtsFirst is the First Tennessee Foundation’s arts funding program administered by ArtsMemphis. ArtsFirst strengthens the Memphis community by combining First Tennessee Foundation’s commitment to supporting excellence and enrichment in the nonprofit arts sector with ArtsMemphis’ grant-making experience and knowledge. Funding decisions are made by a grant panel composed of First Tennessee Foundation representatives.

Who is eligible for ArtsFirst Funding?

Nonprofit arts organizations in the Shelby County with a minimum three-year history of presenting quality arts projects. Organizations must have an active and supportive Board of Directors and be organized as a 501(c)3. 

Funding does NOT support:

  • Individuals
  • Trips and Tours
  • Bank 'clearinghouse' organizations
  • Charities sponsored solely by a single civic organization
  • Charities that redistribute funds to other charitable organizations, except in the case of recognized united fund-type organizations
  • Religious, veteran, social or fraternal organizations
  • Political organizations or those having the primary purpose of influencing legislation or promoting a particular ideological point of view
  • Operating budget deficits

Important Dates:

  • December 1, 2015: Application deadline by 5:00 p.m. (see “How to Apply” below)
  • January, 2016: Grant announcements made

How to Apply:

  1. Submit an online application form by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Click here to begin.
  2. Email the following support materials to artsmemphisartsfirst [at] gmail [dot] com by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, 2015 if they are not already on file at ArtsMemphis:
  • A current list of your organization’s Board of Directors.
  • Your organization’s 501c3 letter from the IRS.
  • Your organization’s most recent Form 990.
  • A project budget (revenue and expenses). Please note other funders or prospects who are part of this project.
  • Any additional supplemental materials that may be relevant to the request (optional).

Direct questions to Lucie Thompson (901-578-2787, lthompson [at] artsmemphis [dot] org).

Click here to sign up for email notifications about ArtsFirst grant and deadlines.

2015 ArtsFirst Recipients

Africa In April Cultural Awareness Festival, Inc. - Community Engagement Project

Ballet Memphis - Ballet Memphis Community Building: The Little Prince

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art - Exhibition Audio Tour

Circuit Playhouse, Inc. - Presenting Sponsor for "Billy Elliot The Musical"

Company d - LOCAL

Creative Aging Memphis - Arts Engagement in Under-resourced Senior Communities

Crosstown Arts - Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis Artistic Partnership

Dixon Gallery & Gardens - Scenic Impressionism: American Paintings from the Johnson Collection

Friends of Levitt Pavilion Memphis, Inc. - Stars at the Shell Benefit Concert 

Indie Memphis - Year-Round Programming

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art - Memphis Wine + Food Series

The Orpheum Theatre - Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education

Memphis Symphony Orchestra - First Tennessee Masterworks

Metal Museum - Digitization of the Society of North American Goldsmiths Archives

New Ballet Ensemble and School - Scholarship Program

Playback Memphis - Memphis Matters/Community Matters

RiverArtsFest - Art in the Making 

Soulsville Foundation - Stax Music Academy Alumni - Live in Studio A

Tennessee Shakespeare CompanyA Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Blues Foundation - Blues Hall of Fame Student Transportation

The Memphis BoyChoir, Inc. - An Afternoon of Jazz

Theatre Memphis - Presenting Season Sponsorship

UrbanArt Commission - Public/Art/ists