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The Creative Work Fund

Grants to California Nonprofits and Artists in
Eligible Counties for Collaborative Arts Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Creative Work Fund

Conf. Date:


LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

05/15/20 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time - Receipt


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Grants ranging from $15,000 to $45,000 to California nonprofit organizations and artists in eligible counties for collaborative projects to create new works of art across the full range of artistic disciplines. Interested applicants are required to submit a Letter of Inquiry prior to the full proposal. Requests will be accepted from eligible applicants in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma Counties.

The Creative Work Fund awards grants for projects in which artists and nonprofit organizations are working closely together to create new art works. The Fund takes the idea of a close working relationship between the artist and the organization very seriously and specifically wants to support the creation stage for a new art work.

The Fund celebrates the role of artists as problem solvers and the making of art as a profound contribution to intellectual inquiry and to the strengthening of communities.  Artists are encouraged to collaborate with nonprofit organizations of all kinds, stretching boundaries and forging new partnerships.

The Fund seeks:

  • Projects in which the creation of an artwork is central
  • Projects in which the artist functions primarily as an artist, not as a teacher, an art therapist, or in another capacity
  • Projects in which an active, authentic working partnership between the artist or artists and the organization is central to the work’s development
  • Projects that engage the organization’s constituents in the artist’s work
  • Projects that draw upon artists’ creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • Projects through which the making of art can strengthen a community, draw attention to an important issue, or engage audiences in new ways
  • Projects that challenge artistic imagination and organizational thinking
  • Projects that designate at least two-thirds of the grant funds to the principal artists and their direct expenses for creating the work.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 166173

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants will range from $15,000 to $45,000.

Term of Contract:

Grants will be awarded in September 2020. If a project already has begun by that time, the artist and the nonprofit organization should still be actively involved in the new work’s creation and collaborating with one after after the grant awards are made.

Projects are expected to be completed within two or three years, but those of longer duration will be considered.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Creative Work Fund projects feature one or more artists collaborating with 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Fiscal sponsors are allowed. The Fund encourages the artists and organizations to “come together” for the sake of this collaboration: An artist should not submit a request to collaborate with an organization if he or she serves on its staff or board of directors.

- Artists from all artistic disciplines are welcome to apply in collaboration with a nonprofit organization (or an organization fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit).
- Any kind of nonprofit organization is eligible to apply to collaborate with an artist.

1. The Fund has three criteria a lead artist must meet:

- Geographic location: The principal collaborating artists must live in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma County and have lived there for at least two years prior to submitting a letter of inquiry. (In that two-year time period, it is acceptable to move among the eligible counties.) The Fund also has considered applications from artists who have had temporary, short-term artist residencies outside of the 11 eligible areas but maintained a home base within them.
- Artistic background: Artists from all artistic disciplines are welcome to apply. (See the Guidelines listed in Pre-Application Information below for a list of disciplines and their definitions.) Lead artists will be asked to identify primary and secondary artistic disciplines in which they have strong track records of accomplishment.
- Not being a recent Creative Work Fund recipient: Artists may submit one proposal per category per deadline and may receive no more than one Creative Work Fund grant every three years. For 2019-20 consideration, artists that received Creative Work Fund grants in August 2017, August 2018, and October 2019 are ineligible.

2. The Fund has three criteria for eligibility of nonprofit organizations:

- Nonprofit status: Any kind of 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization may apply (but not a private foundation). A recognized religious organization, even if it does not have 501 (c) (3) status, may apply. A public agency (such as a parks department, health department, or public school) may apply. An organization that clearly fills a charitable or educational purpose but does not have nonprofit status may apply with a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. Some public agencies (e.g. the Oakland Recreation and Parks Department) also have applied using fiscal sponsors.
- Geography: Collaborating organizations also must be based in one of the 11 counties listed above. The Fund will consider applications from international, national, or statewide organizations that have offices or branches in one or more of the 11 eligible counties.
- Role in a previously funded projects or concurrent applications: Organizations may submit one proposal per category per deadline and may receive no more than one Creative Work Fund grant every three years. For 2019-20 consideration, organizations that received Creative Work Fund grants in August 2017, August 2018, and October 2019 are ineligible.

Past Creative Work Fund grant recipients also must have finished their projects and had their final reports approved before submitting new letters of inquiry. Fiscal sponsors may be part of applications at any time, even if they received a Creative Work Fund grant recently.

For ineligible requests, see

Pre-proposal Conference:

Optional Applicant Information Webinars and Seminars for potential Creative Work Fund applicants will be held September-November 2019. Applicants are not required to attend a webinar or seminar, but are encouraged to do so - especially if they are unfamiliar with the Fund. Advanced Registration is required.


- Walnut Creek Applicant Seminar: October 1 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Walnut Creek Public Library
1644 N. Broadway
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
For further information:

- October 2 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
To register:

- Mastering Collaboration: Stories & Insights from the Creative Work Fund: October 21 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Intersection for the Arts, 1446 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 626-2787
For further information:

- October 22, 2019 3- 5pm
San Mateo Public Library
55 West Third Avenue, San Mateo

- October 28, 2019 1-3pm
Art Association Napa Valley
1520 Behrens Street, Napa

- November 7, 2019 1-3pm
Solano Community Foundation
744 Empire Street, Suite 240 Fairfield


- How to Apply to the Creative Work Fund: October 2 (exact times to be verified)
For further information:

- Applying to the Creative Work Fund: Your Questions Answered
November 6, 2019 11:00am to 12:00pm

For a list of Applicant Seminars and further information:

Pre-Application Information:

- Letters of inquiry must be received no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on December 6, 2019. Artists and organizations should plan projects and prepare and authorize their letters of inquiry together. If a project will use a fiscal sponsor, that sponsor also must review and authorize submission of the letter.
- Full proposals must be received no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on May 15, 2020.


- September 16: Letter of Inquiry Window opens
- Applicant Information Seminars (September - November 2019)
- Grantseeker Registration (September - November 2019)
- Deadline for Letters of Inquiry: December 6, 2019, 5 pm
- Reader Review (January - February, 2020)
- Invitations to Full Proposal: February 28, 2020
- Documentation Mini-Grants* Available: February 28, 2020
- Deadline for Full Proposals: May 15, 2020, 5 pm
- Panel Review (June - August, 2020)
- Notification of Awardees: September 1, 2020
- Deadline for MOU & Grant Acceptance: December 2, 2020
- Final Report (Due three months after the project ending date)

*Documentation Mini Grants: Each collaboration invited to full proposal is eligible to apply for a $500 mini-grant to support the creation of work sample documentation to accompany their submission.

Application Process:

- To apply, both the lead artist and the collaborating organization must complete the appropriate online eligibility quiz days or weeks before beginning the letter of inquiry. If they are found eligible to apply, they will receive their username and password via email within a day or two.
- Organizations and artists should jointly prepare a letter of inquiry.
- Once received, letters are screened by between two and four readers. Based on their feedback, the Creative Work Fund will select approximately 50 finalists for further consideration.
- After letters are reviewed, invited projects receive a summary of the readers’ comments and detailed guidelines for preparing full proposals.
- Because some artists may not have recent documentation of their work, invited finalists will receive a simple form they may use to request a $500 documentation grant.
- A multidisciplinary panel, composed of artists and other arts professionals, review the finalists’ proposals and recommend projects to be funded. Representatives of the foundations that support the Creative Work Fund then consider and sign off on the final awards.

Lead artist and nonprofit organization applicants may submit no more than one letter of inquiry.

There is no limit on the number of applications that may be submitted using a particular fiscal sponsor.

Applicants receiving a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission or a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Special Award in the Arts for the very same project are unlikely to be supported.

Grants will be awarded to collaborating 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, not directly to collaborating artists.



Upcoming Events and Deadlines:


LOI Instructions:

LOI Window Opens:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

To begin the LOI process, take the eligibility quiz:

Online application portal:

For additional information about the Creative Work Fund, call Frances Phillips, Program Director, or Faiza Bukhari, Program Associate, at (415) 402-2793.

The Creative Work Fund
c/o The Walter & Elise Haas Fund
One Lombard Street, Suite 305
San Francisco, CA 94111

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: California: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma County

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