Nonprofit organizations based in the 11-county Bay Area are eligible to submit a letter of intent as a first step in being considered for an award. The application period for the next round of awards, supporting folks and traditional arts and administered by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, will open January 22, 2021. To submit an application:

1. Carefully review the guidelines and ensure your project meets our eligibility requirements.

  • The lead applicant must be a public charity with 501c3 federal tax status.
  • The lead applicant must be based in the greater San Francisco Bay Area in one of the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterrey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano or Sonoma.
  • The lead applicant must have a minimum operating budget of $50,000 per year for at least three years.
  • The proposed project must be based in the discipline of folk and traditional arts.
  • The commissioning project must premiere in the San Francisco Bay Area within three years of the award date (by August 2024).
  • The proposed project must not be a current grant recipient of a Gerbode Special Award in the Arts or the Creative Work Fund.

Click here for the full guidelines for the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions.

2. Review our selection criteria

Acknowledging that folk and traditional arts are as diverse and innovative as the cultural communities they represent, it is important for applicants to provide enough specificity to understand cultural and community contexts.  This will help animate the nuances, aesthetics and themes of your proposal.

Artistry & Lineage:  Proposals will articulate the cultural context of the artistic practice.  Providing perspective on how a community values and understands excellence of the genre will be important. Understanding the lead artist’s training, lineage, education and milestones can demonstrate why they are positioned to be in the distinctive role of lead artist.

Project Concept: Proposals will clearly articulate the subject matter and major theme(s) of the proposed project and explain how the work will illuminate or advance the key theme(s). Applications will also communicate the artist’s depth of thought and distinct creative approach to the themes.

Project Design & Planning: Proposals will convincingly show how the lead applicant, lead artist, and key collaborators have the capacity to fully realize the project. Key indicators of strong project design includes a coherent and achievable timeline, clear and viable budget, and strong articulation of roles and responsibilities. A strong proposal will give evidence that the project brings together the administrative and artistic resources, knowledge, and team to ensure the project will be created and produced as planned.

If selected as a finalist, an expanded and more detailed project design and planning will be required including a memorandum of understanding (MOU), explaining the rights and responsibilities of the lead applicant and the lead artist.

Audience & Community Impact: At the heart of the commissions is performance and public sharing to benefit both residents of the Bay Area and beyond with bold works of art that give voice and value to the idea of creation. We acknowledge that for many folk & traditional arts practices, “performance” may take many forms and is not bounded by a site, stage or audience. Therefore, strong applications will explain what “performance” and “audience” may mean for their practice and for the proposed project through their specific cultural lens. Proposals should describe the intended constituents, participants and/or audiences for the new work.

Impact:  Discuss potential impacts that receiving this commission might have on the art form, the cultural community, and the artist(s). Consider why this commission is important and what can potentially happen because of it.

Outreach and Engagement: Final round applicants will describe outreach, promotion and community engagement activities, if any. Applicants are not required to conduct outreach, community engagement or co-creation activities but if the project includes them, clear descriptions of these processes, and the experiences of the artist(s) to lead them are necessary.

Accessibility: Proposals should describe any plans to improve the accessibility of the project, such as disability access, language, ticketing policies or public events beyond the performance. The applicant’s rationale for the venue and any plans to present the work outside of the Bay Area (not required) will also be considered.

Financial Capacity: Lead applicants must have sufficient financial capacity to achieve the goals of the project. Financial capacity is demonstrated by the fiscal stability of the lead applicant and the viability of the project budget. Strong proposals will demonstrate the applicant has the financial capacity to fulfill the commissioned project without creating great financial strain on the organization.

3. Select an artist to partner with on the project. Artists may be based anywhere around the world.

4. Review the frequently asked questions, and submit any additional questions you have which you do not see answered there.

5. Complete the online letter of intent when it is available via the Alliance for California Traditional Arts website.