Special Arts Grants :: Guidelines
The deadline for Letters of Inquiry to the Special Arts Grants program for the spring 2022 review cycle is December 6, 2021. Proposals are due by January 15, 2022.
Special Arts Grants are awarded to anchor arts and culture organizations with annual budgets between $750,000 and $2.5 million that are located and primarily offer programming in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To be eligible, applicants must produce and present new work by Bay Area artists and provide other benefits for the local arts community, such as rehearsal, performance, or exhibition space; technical assistance, fiscal sponsorship, professional development, or other support; or special expertise working with a particular art form, cultural practice, or under-represented community.
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.
Applicants that meet the eligibility criteria below may request funding for either general support or for special projects that strategically advance their organization, artists, or art form.
General support grants are flexible and may be used for operations, staffing, facilities, reopening costs after COVID closures, health and safety compliance, artists’ compensation, rehearsals, performances, presentations, exhibitions, and other administrative, program, or production costs at the grantee’s discretion. Alternatively, project support may be requested for special artistic initiatives, artistic collaborations, or commissions involving Bay Area artists working in the disciplines of dance, music, theater, visual arts, interdisciplinary arts, or media arts. Project support may also be requested for upgrading facilities to benefit artists and audiences, when not part of a larger capital campaign.
Finally, post-production support for film projects directed by Bay Area filmmakers with budgets between $750,000 and $2,500,000 will also be considered in this program, 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.
Special Arts Grants are generally about $10,000 and usually do not exceed $25,000.
LETTER OF INQUIRY PROCEDURES & DEADLINES
There are two review cycles each year: spring and fall. Application deadlines are January 15 for spring decisions and July 15 for fall decisions.
Potential applicants must, however, contact the Foundation’s Executive Director at least five weeks in advance of the two annual application deadlines to approve the submission of a full grant proposal. (Generally, December 6 for the spring review cycle and June 6 for the fall review cycle). To do so, please send an email to: email@example.com with subject line “LOI Special Arts Grant.” The communication should provide a brief description of the organization, its mission, location, key programs, annual budget size, and the artists and communities it engages. If project support is sought, please provide a brief description, including its timing. Grants are awarded for a one-year grant period, with spring grants awarded in May and fall grants awarded in November. Projects proposed for the spring 2022 cycle must therefore be completed by April 15, 2023.
Applicants must be:
- Arts and culture organizations incorporated as 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
- Located and primarily offering programming in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and/or Santa Clara counties.
- 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.
- Providers of additional benefits to the local arts community, such as rehearsal, performance, or exhibition space; technical assistance, fiscal sponsorship, or other support; or special expertise working with a particular art form, cultural practice, or under-represented community.
- 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 or projects whose primary purpose is youth training in the arts, youth ensembles and performances, exhibitions of youth artwork, and productions designed for youth.
- Organizations or projects whose primary purpose is to present historical works by artists no longer living.
- Organizations or projects whose fundamental purpose or benefit falls within the social services, health, youth, or community development fields.
- Fiscally sponsored projects and individual artists, except eligible 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?
- Does the organization and/or proposed project reasonably compensate artists?
- How well has the organization responded to the impact of COVID-19, and how viable are its plans for the future?
- What are the financial needs of the organization?
- What is the potential impact of the organization or project on the arts discipline or cultural practice involved?
- 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?