MENLO PARK, Calif. — In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation today announced a new five-year, $8 million commissioning initiative that will be one of the largest of its kind in the United States. The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions will support the creation of 50 exceptional works of performing arts and their premiere in the San Francisco Bay Area through grants to local nonprofit organizations working in partnership with prominent artists.

Nonprofit organizations will receive funding to achieve their creative vision in partnership with the commissioned artists. The ultimate beneficiaries of the new program will be local audiences, who will be among the first to see important new works in the performing arts premiered in their communities.

“We believe strongly that the arts are vital for individuals to flourish and neighbors to forge new bonds of understanding,” said Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer. “With the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, we’re honoring our founders’ commitment to the arts and ensuring that communities around the Bay Area and nationally will continue to have access to world-class performances.”

Ten commissions will be awarded annually in each of five performing arts disciplines from 2017 – 2021. For 2017, the commissions will support music composition in a variety of genres, including jazz, contemporary and classical music. Future years will focus on theater, dance, folk and traditional arts, and film and media.

Applicants must be nonprofit organizations based in one of the 11 Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma), but they do not need to be arts producers or presenters. The Hewlett Foundation encourages nonprofits working on diverse issues and those that serve disadvantaged or historically marginalized communities to apply.

“We’re excited about providing local nonprofits with this opportunity to engage an exceptional artist in developing new work that will speak directly to our diverse Bay Area communities,” said John E. McGuirk, director of the foundation’s Performing Arts Program. “And we’re confident that the art created with these funds will go on to inspire, engage, and challenge audiences across the country and around the world in years to come.”

The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions align with the foundation’s longstanding commitment to providing Bay Area audiences with access to world-class performing arts. It will complement the foundation’s existing performing arts grantmaking, which provides roughly $17 million per year to hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly in the form of long-term general operating support. Since its founding 50 years ago, the foundation has made more than $330 million in grants to support the performing arts.

To apply for a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission, nonprofit organizations must submit a brief letter of inquiry describing the proposed project by April 14, 2017. The most competitive applicants will be asked to complete an in-depth proposal for their project this summer. Recipients of the first 10 commissions will be announced in November 2017.

Full details about the program are available on the Hewlett Foundation’s website at

About the Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective.



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Statements of Support for the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions

“The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions is a wonderful affirmation of the creative spirit that resides in and enlivens our region. It is a YES to innovation and discovery, to imagination and its power. This investment in new works will strengthen our communities’ ability to come together through the arts, to experience beauty and celebrate our plurality. What a great gift to the Bay Area!” – Roberto Bedoya, Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland, California

“This new program from the Hewlett Foundation presents an extraordinary opportunity for nonprofits to engage with artists to create something powerful and profound. This is inspiring news for people who understand the catalytic effect that the performing arts can have on our society and who appreciate the importance of substantial support for our most remarkable artists to produce vital new work.” – Paulette Lynch, Executive Director, Arts Council for Monterey County

“The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions is an innovative new initiative that will enable the generation of new works by leading artists working in partnership with local nonprofits. This flourishing of new work, developed and fostered in our region, will reinforce our creative community’s impact locally, nationally and internationally for years to come.” – Kerry Adams Hapner, Director of Cultural Affairs, City of San Jose

“The Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions are a remarkable reminder to the world of the Bay Area arts community’s well-earned position at the forefront of creativity.  Through this program, acting as both thoughtful steward and daring catalyst, the Hewlett Foundation is setting the bar for its next 50 years at a wonderful new height.  What a lasting and generous way to celebrate a Golden Anniversary!” – Kristen Madsen, Director, Creative Sonoma