Media Production Grants: Additional Guidelines

Ohio Humanities supports innovative humanities-informed documentary projects. This includes audio, digital, film, and photographic projects that have strong grounding in the humanities and are accessible to a broad public audience. Media projects should focus on topics that enhance our understanding of Ohio and its culture, people, and history. Project applications should demonstrate that the media program will be suitable for statewide and national audiences through internet or other digital platforms, broadcast, and exhibition.

The Ohio Humanities General Guidelines are operative unless otherwise noted. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their projects with a program officer before completing the application.

Production Grants – Ohio Humanities makes media production grants (max $20,000). Because media projects typically require funding at levels greater than Ohio Humanities can support, project directors are encouraged to seek multiple sources of support.

Planning and Preproduction Grants – Grants (max $2,000) may be used for planning and preproduction for a media project. Such grants may be used for research, consultations with humanities scholars, and preparing a script treatment or statement of user experience, and preliminary capture of material.

  • Ohio Humanities does not invest more than $23,000 in any one project.

All applications must be submitted via the online application system. All media grants should plan to submit a draft at the appropriate deadline and then make necessary changes in time to submit the final application by the appropriate deadline.

Is your media project eligible for an Ohio Humanities grant?

  • Does your project document Ohio’s history and culture, or explore issues of importance to Ohioans?
  • Does the project approach the subject from a humanities perspective, using scholarship and research, and incorporating a variety of viewpoints?
  • Will the project engage audiences by inspiring reflection and thoughtful analysis?
  • Does your project involve an Ohio-based humanities professional who will work in concert with experienced producers and directors?
  • Is the project suitable for wide distribution?

Review Criteria for Media Proposals:

  • Conceptual clarity, style, and approach
  • Depth of humanities content
  • Significance and scope of project goals and outcomes
  • Experience of production team and advisors
  • Strength of media samples or portfolios
  • Likelihood of completion and distribution
  • Feasibility of work plan and outreach
  • Budget and fundraising plans

Eligible grant expenditures may include:

  • Honoraria for humanities scholars and advisors;
  • Salaries or fees for production staff and technical consultants (Ohio Humanities recommends these costs do not exceed 30% of the total grant request);
  • Production and post-production expenses;
  • Rights to use archival materials;
  • Supplies and materials for production activities;
  • Lesson plan development for use in schools;
  • Rental or purchase of equipment or software (Ohio Humanities recommends these costs do not exceed 20% of the total grant request);
  • Travel, lodging, and per diem expenses for staff, consultants, and advisors (please see Ohio Humanities guidelines for allowable travel rates);
  • Administrative costs directly related to the project, or fiscal agent fees (Ohio Humanities recommends these costs do not exceed 10% of total Ohio Humanities grant request);
  • Public program expenses (e.g., room rental for premiere);
  • Publicity expenses directly related to the project.

Ohio Humanities does not fund:

  • Projects that advocate for political, religious, or ideological points of view;
  • Institutional histories produced by and/or partially funded by the institution itself for an internal audience;
  • Promotional or informational projects intended to inform the public about an organization, product, or service;
  • Archival projects;
  • Design and creation of new hardware;
  • Creation of proprietary software platforms and programs;
  • Exhibitions that do not include interpretation;
  • Media art and performance pieces;
  • Recordings of conferences, lectures, workshops, or performances;
  • Scholarships, internships, or projects that result in academic credit.

Instructions for Preparing a Media Funding Application

Applicants must use the online application system. For media grants, please see the instructions below for slight alterations to the general instructions for the online application system. The questions should guide the development of the narrative, though some questions may be more relevant to some projects than others.

Proposal Narrative

Question 1. What do you plan to do?

  • Project Description: It should focus on the activities that will be supported by Ohio Humanities funds. As much as possible, describe who will perform the activities. Identify the resources necessary to make the project happen.
    • Synopsis of the project, including anticipated length and format.
      • What topics, issues, and themes will your story or presentation address? How will this product enhance Ohioans’ understanding of the humanities?  How will this project be relevant to audiences beyond Ohio?
    • Provide a script treatment or description of the user experience detailing the style, structure, content, and visual or interactive elements of the project (5 page limit).

Question 2. How do the humanities inform this project?

  • How will the humanities inform your project? For instance, how will you use the humanities to frame the story or topic you seek to explore? Identify the humanities disciplines that are relevant to your project.
  • How will you develop the broad cultural or historical context of the project? What questions or issues will the project address? Why are these questions or issues significant at this moment? What will the participants learn, experience, or gain as a result of your project?
  • What is your research plan? What sources do you plan to consult when developing the project?

Question 3. Who are humanities advisors/professionals and other project participants?

Ohio Humanities recommends that as much as possible all key project personnel should be confirmed at the time of application.

Humanities Advisors

  • Provide one-paragraph bios for the humanities scholars and advisors involved in the project, including their areas of expertise, scholarship, and institutional affiliation.
  • Describe the project role of each humanities professional (such as content advisor, researcher, or interview subject).

Project Personnel

  • For the primary project personnel (e.g. project director, director, production designer or producer) include a half-page bio. It should include relevant skills and education, credits for digital projects, major broadcasts, or exhibitions, and award information.
  • For key project personnel, provide one-paragraph bios including information about technical expertise; explain the person’s role in the project.

Question 4. What is the plan for outreach, publicity, and engagement?

  • What are your plans for public programming? Who will be involved in public programming? Provide an outline and timeline for your publicity.
  • In what ways will the public continue to engage with your media project after a premiere event? Please describe plans for broadcast distribution, exhibition, educational materials, or social media outreach.
    • Film or radio project directors should include letters from public broadcast outlets signifying the stations’ intent to air or to review the finished product for broadcast.
    • Photo documentary projects should outline an exhibition schedule, and include letters of support from potential exhibition sites.
    • Digital projects should outline how the project will be promoted to reach wide audiences, and how the product will be sustained for public use after the grant period.
  • If you plan to use social media, please identify the tools you plan to use (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) and your current reach (followers, likes, # of email addresses). If you plan to utilize newspapers, television, or radio, please identify the specific broadcasters and publications.

Question 5. Who is the intended audience?

  • Who is the audience or users for your project and how will you reach those people? How do you plan to publicize the project?
  • If your organization has an established constituency, how will this attract new audiences?

Question 6. What are the goals and outcomes of the project and how will it be evaluated?

  • What specific goals have you identified for this project?
  • What outcomes will the project achieve?
  • How will these goals and outcomes be evaluated?
  • How will this project enhance your community’s appreciation and/or knowledge of the humanities?
  • Internally, how will your organization decide whether this project is success?
    • What metrics will the organization use to evaluate the project? Please be specific.

Question 7. Who is the sponsoring organization or fiscal agent and how will funds for the project be raised?

Sponsoring Organization

  • When was the organization founded?
  • How does this project fit with the goals and usual activities of your organization?
  • How is your organization qualified to carry out the project?
  • Describe how the sponsoring organization will make a substantive contribution to the project.
    • Providing bookkeeping and related services does not constitute a substantive contribution.
  • Please include the name of the executive officer and the organization’s web address.

Fundraising Strategies

  • Outline plans for raising additional funds to support your project.
  • Include a list of all sources of funds raised to date.
  • List all sources of other funding requests; indicate the status of those requests and date of notification.

Additional Required Materials (Appendixes):

  1. Detailed project budget, including explanations of costs. (Required)
  2. Media Samples (Required)
    • Filmmakers and radio producers should submit one sample of previous work; in addition, Ohio Humanities would like to see a sample of work-in-progress for the proposed project, if available.
    • Digital producers may submit links to previous projects.
    • Photo documentary projects must be accompanied by 6-10 images produced by the principal photographers; images should include captions.
    • Project directors may choose to submit samples via a pdf with links to material; please be sure to provide a complete URL along with any additional instructions for viewing material.
    • Include an explanation of the samples, such as who produced the sample and why it is included with your Ohio Humanities application.
    • Do not send originals; samples will not be returned.
  3. Agreements and Letters of Support (required)
    • Letters of consideration for broadcast or expressions of interest for exhibition.

Questions? Contact a Program Officer:


Email a program officer at


Call us at 614-461-7802

Already received an Ohio Humanities Grant? Visit the Resources for Grant Administrators page for helpful tips and additional information.