Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions FAQ

If you have a question that has not yet been answered, please email hewlett@creative-capital.org.

Info Sessions

Creative Capital, which is administering the media arts round of the awards, hosted info sessions. The session was recorded and is available for viewing below.

What is media art?

“Media art” is a unique form of artistic expression that makes use of emerging technologies to create work that takes virtual, physical, and hybrid forms. In this way of working, technology is both the medium and the tool. For this reason, media arts projects are often defined not only by their use of technological tools, but also a critical and strategic engagement with these technologies. For a more detailed explanation of how we are defining media arts, please refer to the Application Handbook.

How do I apply for a Commission?

The building blocks of a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions application is the partnership between a lead applicant and a lead artist. The lead applicant must be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in one of 11 Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma. The nonprofit organization must have a minimum annual organizational budget of $50,000 or greater for the past two fiscal years. Organizations with an annual budget of less than $50,000 must apply through a fiscal sponsor that has an annual budget of at least $50,000.

What are the responsibilities of the lead applicant?

The lead application is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that is responsible for submitting the application, entering into the grant agreement with the Hewlett Foundation, commissioning the lead artist, and managing the project to completion. The lead applicant and lead artist should collaboratively plan the project and prepare the application. A lead applicant organization may collaborate with other organizations.

What kind of nonprofit organization should be a lead applicant?

Proposals are welcome from 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the arts sector as well as from nonprofits from other sectors. Applicants must be headquartered in one the 11 Bay Area counties and have an average annual organizational budget of $50,000 or greater, as described above. Organizations with an annual budget of less than $50,000 must apply through a fiscal sponsor that has an annual budget of at least $50,000.

What if we do not have nonprofit status? Can we still apply?

Entities without 501(c)(3) nonprofit status may apply through a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must be 501(c)(3) charitable organization, be headquartered in one the 11 Bay Area counties, and have an average annual organizational budget of $50,000 or greater, as described above. Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement between a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (the fiscal sponsor) and a charitable project. The fiscal sponsor serves as the lead applicant. Learn more about fiscal sponsorship models here.

Can a fiscal sponsor submit more than one application to this application round?

Yes, a fiscal sponsor may be a lead applicant for multiple fiscally sponsored projects. Additionally, a fiscal sponsor may also choose to apply for its own project. A fiscal sponsor may not apply for more than one of its own projects.

Can current Hewlett Foundation grantees apply?

Yes, current Hewlett Foundation grantees in all program areas are eligible to apply if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Can Creative Capital Awardees apply?

Yes, Creative Capital Awardees are eligible to apply if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Can a lead applicant who has previously received a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions award apply for another commission?

No. Any lead applicant that has received a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions award in the past may not apply again as a lead applicant. Past recipients of a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions award may act as a fiscal sponsor for a project that it is not leading, or serve a partner organization to another lead applicant.

What is the role of the lead artist?

The lead artist is the person primarily responsible for the creation of the commission. The lead artist may be based anywhere in the world. Individual artists are not eligible to apply directly for the initiative but must partner with a lead applicant organization. The lead applicant would receive the commissioning award from the Hewlett Foundation and commission the lead artist to create the new work. The lead applicant and lead artist should collaboratively plan the project and prepare the application.

What if the lead applicant would like to commission an artist collective or an ensemble?

The lead applicant may work with an artist collective or an ensemble, but the lead applicant must designate a single artist from the collective or ensemble to act as lead artist for the application.

Does the lead artist have to be from the Bay Area?

No, the lead artist may be from anywhere in the world.

Is preference given to local, national, or international artists?

Artists may be based anywhere in the world, with no preference for one location over another.

Is it necessary for the creation and development of the work to take place in the 11 Bay Area counties listed above?

No, the commissioned work may be created or developed anywhere in the world as long as the world premiere or public sharing of the work happens within the 11 Bay Area counties.

Can an artist apply more than once?

An artist may serve as the lead artist on only one application per application cycle. A lead artist may serve as a collaborator on other applications in the same cycle. Any lead artist that has received a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions award in the past may not apply again as a lead artist but may serve as a collaborator on subsequent applications.

Can lead artists that were awarded the Gerbode Foundation Special Awards for the Arts or the Creative Work Fund apply?

Projects that have received funding through the Gerbode Foundation Special Awards for the Arts or the Creative Work Fund (a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund) are not eligible for the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions. Lead applicants and artists that have received funding through these two grant programs are eligible to apply for the 50 Arts Commissions so long as they are applying for a project that is different from what was funded by the Gerbode Foundation Special Awards for the Arts or Creative Work Fund.

Are student projects eligible?

No. The lead artist may not be a student at the time of application submission, or during the grant period. Additionally, projects featuring performers that are predominantly school-age students (K-12 and college) are not eligible to apply.

Are adaptations of existing works eligible?

Yes, adaptations of existing works are eligible so long as the adaptation of the existing work includes significant reimagining or creative alterations by the lead artist.

Can we apply for an award for a work currently in development?

The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions initiative is designed to support the development of new works. Projects for which the bulk of the creative work has already been completed are eligible to apply but unlikely to result in a competitive application. Work that has been performed as workshops or as a work-in-progress are eligible. If a work has already been fully staged, it is ineligible for a commissioning award.

Are projects without a confirmed venue eligible to apply?

Yes, works that have not yet confirmed a venue for the world premiere are eligible to apply. The lead applicant should list potential venues and explain how they will select the venue(s) in the Letter of Inquiry.

Can the commissioned work be premiered as part of an annual festival?

Yes, a commissioned work may have its world premiere as part of an annual festival. However, Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions funding must support only the creation of the commissioned work and its presentation. Funding may not support overall marketing or administrative costs of the festival.

Where must the commissioned work premiere?

The world premiere must take place within the 11 Bay Area counties listed above. Venues can be performance spaces, outdoor spaces, or other types of spaces.

How much should the commissioned lead artist be paid?

The lead artist must be paid a fee of at least $50,000.

What are the funding guidelines?

All applicants must request $150,000. A minimum of two-thirds of the commission ($100,000) must be used to support the creation and development of the commissioned work. This amount includes the $50,000 lead artist commissioning fee. Any remaining funds may support the presentation of the commissioned work. Applicants selected to submit full applications will be provided a budget template and clear guidance about how to assemble a detailed project income and expense budget.

Can the project budget be larger than the grant request? Is there a requirement for matching funds?

The Hewlett Foundation will consider proposals for projects that have additional sources of funding as well as those that are funded solely by the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions’ award. There is no matching fund requirement.

Can the project budget include indirect costs like administrative overhead?

Yes, applicants are encouraged to include indirect costs (also called “overhead” or “administrative expenses”) in their project budgets. Indirect costs are general administration expenses that support the entire operations of an organization and that may be information systems and support; administrative staff such as development, finance and overhead and shared across projects or programs. Examples include rent, utilities, equipment for an office; accounting, IT, HR, and legal. While these costs may not be directly attributable to a project, they are real and necessary to operate as an organization. The proposal budget includes a section for listing indirect costs.

When will the commissioning funds be disbursed?

Projects that are awarded funding will receive the entire $150,000 grant payment in Autumn 2022, after a grant agreement has been signed and approved by both the lead applicant and the Hewlett Foundation.

Will we receive feedback about our application?

Due to the large number of applications we expect to receive, neither the Hewlett Foundation nor Creative Capital will be able to provide feedback to applicants.

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