Small Arts Grants :: Application Information

The particular emphasis of the Small Arts Grants Program is to support the development and presentation of the work of living Bay Area artists.  Innovative new work is the priority. Applications to mount historical works by artists no longer living will not be considered, unless there is a significant new artistic voice that is shaping the project (e.g. composer, choreographer, director, or playwright). Grants may be awarded for: artists’ fees for creative time; production costs for performances, post production costs for film projects; exhibition/installation costs for visual, media, or interdisciplinary arts projects; activities that contribute to overall artistic development; and efforts to strengthen an organization’s artistic impact within the community and/or an artistic discipline. The Foundation seeks to fund a broad range of arts groups during the course of each year. It strives to make grants that represent a diversity of arts disciplines, aesthetic sensibilities, and forms of cultural expression. The Foundation priorities grant requests which best support working artists, and programs representing diverse populations. Only nonprofit arts organizations may apply for funding; individual artists are not eligible for grants through this program.


Applicants must be:

  • Arts and cultural organizations incorporated as not-for-profit 501c3;
  • Organizations residing and offering programming in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties;
  • Able to demonstrate a consistent artistic presence in the Bay Area for at least 3 years;
  • Of annual budget size between $100,000 and $750,000;
  • Filmmakers residing in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties;
  • Film projects with budgets under $750,000, under fiscal sponsorship of a nonprofit organization.

Not eligible are:

  • Programs/projects for youth training in the arts, youth ensembles and performances, exhibitions of youth artwork, and productions designed for youth;
  • Artist residency programs;
  • Programs/projects whose fundamental purpose or benefit falls within the social services, health, youth, or community development fields;
  • Individuals (unless conducting a significant project under the sponsorship of an eligible nonprofit organization);
  • Organizations and filmmakers based outside San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties;
  • Deficit financing, fund-raising events, endowment campaigns, and capital campaigns.


  • Dance
  • Music
  • Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Interdisciplinary Arts
  • Film (see special instructions for filmmakers)


The most important considerations in assessing grant requests are:

  • How would this grant help advance the body of work being developed by the principal artist(s);
  • Are participating artists reasonably compensated;
  • Is there strong evidence of board support for the organization; specifically, what percentage of board members made gifts (cash, not in-kind); and what percentage of total contributed income last year came from board members;
  • Is there an audience for this work;
  • What is the contribution to the community at large;
  • What is the potential impact on the arts discipline involved;
  • Is the organization representative of under-served populations?
  • How viable is the applicant organization;
  • Does the applicant use its resources efficiently and well, seeking to collaborate and share resources when appropriate.


When using a fiscal sponsor, the applicant must have entered into a written agreement with that sponsor which delineates responsibilities for accounting procedures, fiscal oversight, and grant reporting. To be eligible for a grant, the sponsoring nonprofit organization’s mission and ongoing programming must correlate with those of the sponsored project. A letter of sponsorship summarizing the specific nature of this agreement must accompany the application. The contact information for both the sponsor organization and the sponsored project should be included on the Application Information Form. The organizational materials should be those of the fiscal sponsor (annual budget, CDP report, board list, non-profit status letter). Sponsored applicants should include their project budget and attach a simple financial summary of their activities of the last completed year, if available.


The Foundation only accepts online applications. The awards range from $1,000 to $10,000, and are usually between $2,000 – $5,000. The grant period is one year from the date of Board of Directors approval. The Small Arts Grants program is designed to support a variety of organizations over time, rather than to provide annual funding for a specific group of organizations. After several years of applications, groups are encouraged to take a break for a year or two before applying again.

In order to review an application, the Foundation needs the following:

  1. Completed Application Information Form.
  2. Completed Grant Proposal Narrative.
  3. Current year’s organizational budget with income and expenses, separating grants, board, and other contributions, and itemizing expenses.
  4. Most recent DataArts information, formatted for the Fleishhacker Foundation. Note – filmmakers do not need to submit a DataArts profile.
  5. A project budget detailing income and expenses.
  6. Evidence of tax-exempt status.
  7. Copy of Letter of Agreement with fiscal sponsor (if applicable).
  8. A filmography for film directors; brief artistic biographies for key personnel in other artistic project applications.
  9. Board of Directors list with affiliations.
  10. For film proposals: please include a link to your work sample on Vimeo. Filmmakers should have raised and spent at least 50% of their project budget before applying.
  11. Up to 6 supporting documents such as letters of recommendation, press reviews, filmmakers’ production company financials, overview of fiscal sponsor organization.
  12. Optional: performing arts organizations may include a link to a brief Vimeo work sample.

The Foundation cannot review extensive proposal packets. Supporting documents must be limited, and are not required to complete the application (except in the case of film requests). Supporting materials can be helpful if the applicant is being reviewed by the Foundation for the first time. All applicants will receive written confirmation of receipt of their proposal, and of the action taken on the request. When an applicant is using a fiscal sponsor, all communication is sent to the sponsor organization which in turn communicates with the sponsored project. There are two grant cycles each year. Online application deadlines are midnight PST on January 15 for spring decisions (for activities beginning after May 1), and July 15 for fall decisions (for activities beginning after Nov.1).