Special Arts Grants :: Guidelines
The deadline for applications to the Special Arts Grants program for the fall 2021 review cycle was July 15, 2021. Guidelines, application procedures, and deadlines for the spring 2022 review cycle will be posted here in November 2021.
The Foundation awards Special Arts Grants to mid-sized arts and culture organizations with annual budgets between $750,000 and $2,500,000 that are located and offer programming in the San Francisco Bay Area.
These larger grants are provided to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that have a history of successfully producing and presenting new work by Bay Area artists and play an important role in their communities. Specifically, funded organizations offer meaningful opportunities for artists, enriching experiences for audiences, and other benefits for the local arts community, such as rehearsal, performance, or exhibition space; technical assistance or other support; or special expertise in a particular art form, cultural practice, or serving an under-represented population.
The Foundation strives to make grants that advance a diverse array of artistic disciplines, aesthetic sensibilities, and forms of cultural expression. We prioritize grant requests that best support working artists and place particular emphasis on funding organizations that represent and engage marginalized artists and communities.
There are two review cycles each year: spring and fall. In response to the impact of the COVID-19 closures on the local arts community, grants will be awarded for general operating support during the upcoming fall 2021 review cycle. In addition, post-production support for film projects directed by Bay Area filmmakers with budgets between $750,000 and $2,500,000 will be considered in this category, if applying with an eligible fiscal sponsor or nonprofit production company. Other fiscally sponsored projects and individual artists are not eligible for this grant program. All other project-specific support remains suspended for this review cycle. Grants are generally between $10,000 – $20,000.
Potential applicants that meet the eligibility criteria listed below may send a Letter of Inquiry of no more than two pages to the Foundation’s Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “Special Arts LOI.” The letter should provide a brief description of the organization, its mission, history, location, key programs, the artists and communities it engages, and a short summary of its current financial situation.
Application guidelines and deadlines for the spring 2022 review cycle will be available in November 2021.
Applicants must be:
- Arts and culture organizations incorporated as 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
- Engaged in the production and presentation of new work by Bay Area artists in the disciplines of dance, music, theater, visual arts, interdisciplinary arts, or film.
- Located and primarily offering programming in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and/or Santa Clara counties.
- Able to demonstrate a consistent artistic presence in the Bay Area for at least three years.
- Of an annual budget size between $750,000 and $2,500,000.
- An organization that evidences strong support from the community and its Board of Directors. (Please see details provided below.)
Applicants may also be film projects directed by Bay Area filmmakers, with budgets between $750,000 and $2,500,000, if applying with an eligible fiscal sponsor or nonprofit production company. Funds will be awarded for the post-production phase of film projects only. Please see Instructions for Filmmakers on this website.
Not eligible are:
- Organizations whose primary mission is youth training in the arts, youth ensembles and performances, exhibitions of youth artwork, and productions designed for youth.
- Organizations whose primary mission is to present historical works by artists no longer living.
- Organizations whose fundamental purpose or benefit falls within the social services, health, youth, or community development fields.
- Fiscally sponsored projects and individual artists, except filmmakers.
The most important considerations in assessing Special Arts Grant requests are:
- Does the organization have a significant history of artistic accomplishment in the Bay Area?
- What are the organization’s contributions to the local arts community and the Bay Area at large?
- Does the organization represent and engage marginalized artists and communities (people of color, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, immigrants, and/or under-resourced populations) in a meaningful way?
- How well has the organization responded to the impact of COVID-19, and how viable are its plans for the future?
- Does the organization reasonably compensate artists?
- What is the potential impact of the organization on the arts discipline or cultural practice involved?
- What are the financial needs of the organization?
- Is there strong evidence of Board and community support for the organization; specifically, what percentage of Board members made financial contributions and what other income has been raised or generated within the last year?
- Does the organization use its resources efficiently and well, seeking to collaborate and share resources when appropriate?