NJEDA – New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Challenge Grant

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New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)

New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Challenge Grant

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) hereby announces the availability of grant funding under the New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Grant Program, with the purpose to serve as seed funding to explore the possibility of bringing an innovative music and technology festival to New Jersey. The funding is comprised of one (1) grant with (1) award of up to $2 million.

Applications will open on Thursday December 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm and will close on Friday January 21, 2022 at 5:00pm. Applications will be accepted for twenty nine (29) calendar days after the opening of the application. Applications for this program will be accepted up to the closing date. Applications will be evaluated for completeness by Authority staff and scored by a committee. The highest scoring application will be recommended to the NJEDA Board for award.

Applications will be available and submitted online to the NJEDA at: www.njeda.com/arts-and-innovation-festival-challenge


This funding opportunity is issued as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey and to facilitate growth of New Jersey as the State of Innovation with significant Investment in Communities. The NJEDA will create and administer the New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Challenge Grant to support a festival in New Jersey highlighting creative arts and innovative technologies.

This funding will support an event planning entity’s work to produce an arts and technology festival that will showcase the cutting edge of arts, technology, education, policy, research, and social impact that will be located in New Jersey. The festival will be a regional draw that will position New Jersey as a premier location for diverse creatives, entrepreneurs, and researchers to live, work, and play.

The New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Challenge Grant funding allocated in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Act was assigned to the Economic Recovery Fund in order to create the Challenge Grant program.


The New Jersey Arts and Innovation Festival Challenge Grant will provide grant funding with one (1) award of up to $2,000,000 to a business or nonprofit with experience organizing large-scale events. The selected entity will use this funding, plus additional funds they raise independently of the NJEDA, to produce a festival to be held over two or more days with a proposed goal of holding the festival held in the Summer or Fall of 2022.

Eligible Uses

The sole use of this grant funding is to cover operational costs related to the management, production, and promotion of a New Jersey centered arts and innovation festival.

Grant Amounts

One grant award of up to $2,000,000 will be awarded based on approval by the NJEDA Board.

Notification of Award

The awardee will be notified following approval of the award by the NJEDA Board. The funds disbursement will be made after the execution of the grant documentation by both parties.

Funding Disbursement

Funding will be disbursed as follows:

First Tranche – $500,000 disbursed, post execution, within seven days of the receipt and approval of a spending plan for the initial disbursement of $500,000. The spending plan must identify major cost centers and spending targets related to booking costs, operational costs, and any normal and customary costs associated with the planning, production, and management of the festival.

a. Booking costs are described as:

I. Funds required to secure contracts for the time and performance of individuals or groups who are identified by the grantee as major performers, presenters, or speakers at the proposed event.

II. Funds required to secure contracts for use of a specific venue or venues, in a New Jersey municipality, where speaking events, arts, and/ innovation presentations, or artistic performance or support services will be held as part of the NJ Arts and Innovation Festival

b. Operating costs may include but are not limited to:

I. Contract fees, contract payments, venue and/or equipment deposits, inventory, supplies, salaries, costs related to professional services, costs related to governmental fees, utilities payments, and other customary costs related to operations.

c. Normal and Customary costs are costs associated with the production and management of the festival that may not be traditionally associated with operating costs.

Second Tranche – Remaining funds up to a total of $1,500,000 to be disbursed in increments of no less than $100,000 and no greater than $500,000 for reimbursement of booking costs, operating costs, and normal and customary costs incurred in the production of the festival not covered by the initial disbursement.

Automated processes, where applicable, are being implemented to ensure the rapid issue of the disbursements.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant eligibility is open to qualified applicants defined as:
• For profit and nonprofit entities,
• Registered to do business in New Jersey or holding a valid NJ Charitable Registration, and
• With demonstrated experience organizing and executing at least one (1) event with an attendance of 5,000 or more in the last 7 years.

Applicants may submit only one application. The applicant will be the sole entity responsible for meeting the requirements of the grant agreement.

Applicants may add a strategic partner or partners whose experience, knowledge, skills and ability may provide an advantage in the production, management, and/or marketing of the festival. Strategic partners are distinct from contractors in that they may not be contracted for specific services, but instead will enter into agreements with the grant recipient to plan the festival and oversee spending of grant funds received. The strategic partnership must be recognized by a memorandum of understanding or a written agreement between the partner and the applicant and be included in the application. The strategic partner or partners’ prior experience will be considered for the purposes of awarding the grant.

The applicant will have the sole responsibility in the grant agreement for assuring the compliance of partners with all terms and conditions of the program. The applicant will be the sole recipient of the grant. Entities may only submit one proposal as primary applicant but may be included as strategic partners on other applications or as contractor for grantees. Once included in the proposal, any named strategic partner or partners cannot be changed without the prior written consent of the Authority.

Application Process

Applications will be accepted for 30 days after the opening of the application. All applications should propose an arts and innovation festival to be held in Summer or Fall 2022. The Applicant shall provide:

• Proof of successful management, by applicant and/or strategic partner, of at least one (1) event that took place over two (2) or more days and included at least three (3) of the elements listed below.

-In order to achieve the highest possible score, applicants will need to provide proof of multiple events that they have managed with additional points being given to event hosted in New Jersey.

• Live music performances or other live performances (i.e. poetry readings, speeches, plays)
• Panel discussions
• Keynote speakers of national significance (i.e. CEOs, political figures, award winning writers/performers/ researchers, advocacy champions, entrepreneurs)
• Live tech demonstrations
• Trade shows

• Vision statement for NJ Arts and Innovation Festival that includes:

- Proposed dates and locations
- Proposed performers/speakers
- Proposed plan for advertising/promotion
- Proposed plan for partnering with host municipality/municipalities to provide free or subsidized tickets to residents of the host municipality/municipalities
- COVID-19 safety plan
- Diversity and inclusion statement
- Security plan
- Transportation/parking plan

• Proposed budget
• Key staff bios and resumes
• Strategic Partner or Partners, as needed
• Proposed key contractors, as needed
• Proposed plan (fundraising plan) to fund any budgeted amount in excess of the $2,000,000 available through the NJEDA grant.

Submissions must contain, at a minimum, the required information identified below:
• Completed Application Information Form and any additional information related to the Grant Fund Uses.
• Completed Budget Estimate that demonstrates how the full project budget is being utilized. The budget must detail costs, which include, but are not limited to, labor costs, contract/technical services and support costs, and material costs. The budget must project out that the festival shall be executed within Summer or Fall 2022. The budget will be outlined in a budget schedule.
• Signed agreement that the entity assumes all liability for the event and will indemnify, defend and hold harmless NJEDA for any action during the Arts and Innovation Festival.
• Proof of ability to obtain appropriate insurance coverage as recommended by the Authority’s insurance broker in the form of a substantially similar insurance policy for an event the applicant has previously organized.
• Strategic Partnership Memoranda of Understanding or Agreement (if relevant).
• Current New Jersey Business Registration or New Jersey Charitable Registration


A non-refundable fee of $1,000 shall accompany every application.