Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions FAQ

Hewlett Foundation staff will be answering questions about the initiative in the space below. If you have a question that has not yet been answered, please email us.

Info Sessions

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, which is administering the folk and traditional arts round of the awards, hosted a number of info sessions for those interested in applying via Zoom. You can watch a recording of the session they hosted on January 27, 2021 below.

How do I apply for a Commission ?

The building blocks of the commission are the partnership of a lead applicant and a lead artist.

The lead applicant must be a non-profit organization with 501c3 status based in the Bay Area area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma.   The non-profit must have a minimum organizational budget of $50,000 (averaged budget in fiscal years 2018 and 2019).

What are folk & traditional arts? 

Folk and traditional arts are expressions that are learned as part of the cultural life of a community.  Members of these communities may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores (customs), language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These traditions are shaped by the aesthetics and values of a shared culture, and are passed from generation to generation through observation, conversation, and practice. Traditional arts flourish as they continually change and adapt to new settings and circumstances while remaining informed by shared ancestral knowledge.

Forms as diverse as Ohlone basketry, gospel music, Japanese koto music, Oaxacan mask making used in dance-ritual, as well as queer voguing are all examples of folk &  traditional arts.  Each of these expressions is strongly rooted in specific tribal, ethnic, regional, or cultural communities.

The commissions will seek to support a wide variety of traditional art forms to show the breadth, creativity, and living practices rooted in cultural communities.

How should I understand what a “new” work eligible for a commission is in regard to folk and traditional arts?

Traditional arts practices are distinguished and informed by cultural context, history and lineage.  In order for these expressions to thrive into the future, they continually evolve. What is new in your proposal can be based on many things: new repertoire, new partnerships, taking work to a new scale, new research or a type of collaboration that has never happened before.

What are the responsibilities of the lead applicant?  

The non-profit 501c3 organization will submit the application, sign the grant agreement letter, and be responsible for commissioning the lead artist and managing the project. A lead applicant organization may collaborate with other organizations.’

What kind of nonprofit organization should be a lead applicant? 

Proposals are welcome from nonprofit organizations in the arts sector as well as from nonprofits from other sectors with the same organizational budget size of $50,000 or over and headquartered in the 11 Bay Area counties listed above.

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

Those organizations without non-profit status, may apply through a fiscal sponsor which has 501c3 status, is based in the 11 Bay Area counties listed above, and meets the $50,000 budget minimum listed above.

Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement between a 501c3 nonprofit organization (the fiscal sponsor) and a charitable project. The fiscal sponsor will receive and expend funds to advance a  project.  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 two or more of its own projects.

Can current Hewlett Foundation grantees apply?

Yes, current Hewlett Foundation grantees in all program areas are eligible to apply if based in the 11-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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

No. Any lead applicant that has been awarded a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission in the past may not apply again as a lead applicant. If they act as fiscal sponsors, they may submit an application on behalf of a fiscally-sponsored project.

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 commission but must partner with a lead applicant organization, who would receive the commissioning award from the Hewlett Foundation and commission the lead artist to create the new work.

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 San Francisco 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/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 award cycle, but may serve as a collaborator on multiple applications in the same cycle.

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

Yes, lead artists that have previously been awarded the Gerbode Foundation Special Awards for the Arts or the Creative Work fund for a different project are eligible to apply with a different project.

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 conventional school-age students (K-12 and college) are not eligible to apply.

Are adaptations of existing works eligible?

Yes, as long as the adaptation of existing work includes significant reimagining or creative alterations by the lead artist.

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

If the project has already been initiated and is conceptually well developed, the work is still eligible for a commission. However, because this is a commissioning award for new works, projects for which the bulk of the creative work has already been completed may not be competitive. Work that has been performed as workshops or works- in- progress may apply but if a work has already been fully staged it will be ineligible.

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) within the narrative of the grant.

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

Yes, commissioned work may have its world premiere as part of an annual festival. However, Hewlett 50 Arts Commission 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 can take place anywhere within the 11 Bay Area counties listed above.

How much should the commissioned lead artist be paid?

The lead artist commissioning fee must be at least $50,000.

What are the guidelines on Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions funding?

All proposals must request $150,000. A minimum of two-thirds of the commission ($100,000) should 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. The online application budget template will give guidance for organizing project income and expenses.

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

We anticipate funding both projects that have additional sources of funding and those that are funded solely by the Hewlett Foundation’s award. There is no matching fund requirement.

Can the project budget include indirect costs like administrative overhead?

Yes, in the “overhead” line item of the expense budget applicants may include indirect costs such as rent, utilities, technology systems, and a portion of administrative (accounting, HR, etc.) and other staff that support the project. Overhead expenses are one of several categories of expenses considered presentation expenses. The category of presentation expenses can total up to $50,000 of the expenses paid for by a Hewlett commission.

When will the commissioning funds be dispersed?

Projects that are awarded funding for folk and traditional arts will receive the entire $150,000 payment in October 2021 after a grant agreement has been signed and approved by both the lead applicant and the Hewlett Foundation.

Will we receive feedback about the review?

Due to the large number of applications we expect to receive, we will not be able to provide individual feedback.

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