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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:

07/16/19 5:00 PM


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Grants ranging from $15,000 to $45,000 to California nonprofits and artists in eligible counties for collaborative projects to create artwork. Eligible artists are those working in the traditional or visual arts. To start the application process, applicants must submit a letter of inquiry. Eligible applicants must be from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma County. 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.

A traditional or visual arts project may culminate in any form, but it must feature a lead artist with a strong track record as a traditional or visual artist.

The Creative Work Fund uses the following definitions for these eligible artists:
- Traditional artists create in art forms that are learned as part of the cultural life of a group of people whose members have a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region.
- Visual artists include those with experience in painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation art, public art, drawing, crafts, graphics, ceramics, design, or artists’ books. (Video and sound-based installation artists and artists creating new genre, time-based works should apply as media artists in a future year.)

In either category, artists and organizations should jointly plan their projects and prepare and authorize their letters of inquiry together.

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:

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. 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.

Collaborating organizations also must be based in one of the 11 counties.

The Fund will not consider:

- Commissions of new works by artists in which the applicant organization and artists are not collaboratively engaged in the making of those works
- Projects in which the specified lead artist is an employee of or board member for the applying nonprofit organization
- Projects in which the lead artists and collaborating organization are not based in the eligible counties or those with multiple artists, most of whom are based outside of the 11 counties
-Projects that do not feature the artist(s) centrally as demonstrated by the project descriptions and budget allocations
- Projects from lead artists or organizations that were awarded Creative Work Fund grants in 2016, 2017, or 2018
- Projects from artists or organizations that have not completed projects and final reports for previously awarded Creative Work Fund projects.

Applicant artists may apply with a nonprofit entity that uses a fiscal sponsor.

Pre-proposal Conference:

- There will be a live webinar on January 9 from noon to 1 PM. To register:

- A seminar will be held on January 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at The Lab on 2948 16th Street, San Francisco. The seminar will be a special session to meet the funders from The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Creative Capital, Creative Work Fund, and Gerbode Special Awards in the Arts. To register:

- Another seminar will be held on January 23 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at the Arts Council of Napa Valley on 3299 Claremont Way, Napa. This will be an informative presentation about 2019 grants. To register:

- View the recorded seminar that live streamed on December 12:

Pre-Application Information:

Grant Schedule:
- Submit a Letter of Inquiry by 5 pm 5 pm March 1, 2019
- Invitations to submit full proposals by May 3, 2019
- Full Proposals Due by July 16, 2019
- Panel Review (August-September, 2019)
- Notification of Awards by October 4, 2019
- Deadline for MOU & Grant Acceptance is December 2, 2019

Artists and organizations may submit one proposal per category per deadline.

Days or weeks before beginning your letter of inquiry, the applying nonprofit organization and artist should complete brief eligibility quizzes and set up Grantseeker accounts. If you are eligible to apply, the Creative Work Fund will respond with your username and password within a day or two.

Once received (no later than March 1 at 5 p.m.), letters are screened by category by between two and four readers. Based on their feedback, the Creative Work Fund will select approximately 25 finalists in each category — traditional arts and visual arts.

After letters are reviewed, invited projects receive a summary of the readers’ comments and detailed guidelines for preparing full proposals.

Because some traditional artists applying in the past have not had documentation of their work, invited finalists in traditional arts will receive a simple form they may use to request a $500 documentation grant.

LOI instructions:

Upcoming events and deadlines:

Grant Guidelines:

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:

For additional information about the Creative Work Fund, call Frances Phillips, Program Director, or Faiza Bukhari, Program Associate, (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, or Sonoma County