Special Project Grants


For any questions about Special Project Grants, contact Director, Community Investments Barbara Mumby at barbara.mumby@sfgov.org or 415-252-2215.


A translation of this grant application is available upon request; however, only applications in English will be accepted.

Una traducción de esta solicitud de aplicación está disponible a petición; sin embargo, solamente se aceptarán solicitudes en inglés. Favor comunicarse con Kate Patterson-Murphy al 415-252-2229 ó kate.patterson@sfgov.org para una traducción al español.


Ang pagsasalin sa Tagalog ng aplikasyon para sa pagkalooban na ito ay makukuha kung hihingilin. Ngunit ang aplikasyon sa Ingles lamang ang aming tatanggapin. Para sa tulong, maaring i-contact si Cece Carpio, 415-252-2217 o cece.carpio@sfgov.org.


Jump to:
Important Dates
Information about Special Project Grants
Who Can Apply
Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Important Dates

Applications Due EXTENDED: December 13, 2018, 12 p.m. NOON PST
Panel Review December 14, 2018
Funding Recommendations December 17, 2018
Commission Approval January 7, 2018
Grant Period Varies

Information about Special Project Grants (SPX)

About SPX

The Special Project Grants (SPX) program consists of one-time grants to address emerging needs within the arts ecosystem of San Francisco.  Projects cover a wide range of arts activities related to neighborhood and/or community-based engagement and arts access. SFAC has allocated resources to make grants in multiple program areas based on supervisorial districts and/or specific communities. Applicants may only apply for funding specific to those geographic areas or communities outlined within these guidelines. For questions about this grant category, please contact Director of Community Investments, Barbara Mumby at barbara.mumby@sfgov.org or 415-252-2215.


Special Project Grants vary project to project and the award amounts this cycle range from $20,000 to $200,000.   Please refer to each category project description for the eligible request amount.

categories and project descriptions

District 9: Anchor Arts & Cultural Organization support: Support up to $30,000 for a long-standing non-profit arts and cultural organization that has provided programming to the community for forty years or more in district 9. This organization should have a mission to foster public awareness and appreciation of art for marginalized communities and serve as a vehicle to explore contemporary issues in the arts while advancing dialogue around current events. Funds are for general operating uses that work to further support this mission. 

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project: 

  • The organization or collaboration's history and experience producing programming for marginalized communities in District 9.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership and partnerships that conveys confidence that the organization is sustainable and thriving. 
  • An organizational budget that further indicates the future sustainability of the organization.

Who Can Apply


  • The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) (3)
  • The organization (and fiscal sponsors, if applicable) must be based in San Francisco, and must demonstrate two years of programmatic activity with at least four programmatic San Francisco-based activities.
  • The organization’s mission statement must be clearly focused on the development, production, and/or presentation of arts and/or cultural activities in San Francisco or clearly aligns with the intent and purpose of the applicable grant category.
  • The applicant organization cannot be part of another City agency or department.
  • Applicants must not be in default on any grants or loans from: (1) SFAC, (2) other City departments (including, without limitation, the Department of Children, Youth, and their Families; Office of Economic and Workforce Development; Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development; and Grants For The Arts), (3) Northern California Grantmakers Arts Loan Fund; (4) Northern California Community Loan Fund, (5) Community Arts Stabilization Trust; or (6) the Center for Cultural Innovation. This default clause was expanded due to the fact that SFAC has a fiduciary relationship with these particular organizations, through either shared City resources or other pooled philanthropic funds.
  • The proposed project must take place in San Francisco between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, or as indicated in the grant category.
  • The organization must be willing and able to meet the requirements associated with receiving funds from the City and County of San Francisco. In order to receive a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, you must become a registered, compliant supplier (formerly called a vendor) and meet the City of San Francisco's insurance and business tax requirements. For more information about vendor requirements, visit: http://sfgov.org/oca/qualify-do-business. Please note if you are not already a City supplier, you will only be required to register if you are awarded a grant. Insurance and business tax requirements will be explained and made available upon approval of grant awards.


  • A proposed project cannot receive simultaneous funds from multiple SFAC funding sources; this includes collaborators applying to work on different components of the same project and applying separately.
  • Applicants cannot submit more than one application for each SPX category.
  • The awarding of funds does not imply that the Arts Commission or any other City agency will produce, exhibit, or present the art created. It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure a venue and any required permits for public presentations or workshops.
  • Grant funds may not pay for: 
  1. Activities outside of San Francisco;
  2. Deficit reduction;
  3. Start-up money for new organizations;
  4. Re-granting.

grantee requirements

  • City Permits and Permissions: If the proposal includes components that require City permits or approval such as publicly installed art, street closures, sound amplification in public space, or murals, the artist will be solely responsible for securing the necessary permits, permissions, insurance, and approvals. This planning should be reflected in your project timeline.
  • Insurance Requirements: 
    • General Liability: Awarded grantees will need to submit a certificate of General Liability Insurance and an Endorsement Page with first invoice. General liability insurance cannot be waived. This requirement can met by the following:
      • Purchasing General Liability Insurance as an individual artist or organization.
      • Purchasing Special Event Insurance for any public events associated with the grant project.
      • Obtaining a General Liability Insurance certificate from their host venue, which adds the grantee and event to their policy by endorsement and lists the San Francisco Arts Commission as additionally insured.
    • Workers Comp Insurance: Workers Comp insurance is required for an organization that has employees. If you do not have employees, the San Francisco Arts Commission will provide a waiver for this requirement.
    • NEW: Waiver of Subrogation addendum is required for organizations to do work on ANY City-owned property. 
    • Auto Insurance: Auto Insurance is required if the awarded grantee will use a vehicle for the purposes of the grant. The San Francisco Arts Commission will provide a waiver for this requirement.
    • Abuse and Molestation Insurance: Proof of Abuse & Molestation coverage in addition to General Liability coverage is required for working with vulnerable populations (minors, disabled people, or elderly people).
  • Art Installation: Please note that any art installed with these grant funds on property owned by the City and County of San Francisco or on private property, must be reviewed and approved by the San Francisco Arts Commission starting with the Visual Arts Committee of the Commission. This applies to murals, public sculpture, and similar projects. It will be the responsibility of the grantee to build this process into their grant plan and timeline. Please contact the following Public Art Program staff if you have questions: Alyssa Torres at alyssa.torres@sfgov.org for murals.

Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Grants panelists

Special Project grant applications are evaluated in a closed panel review process by SFAC staff and partners. Grant review panelists will have experience that aligns with the purpose of the specific grant category.

Scoring Criteria

Panelists will be instructed to use Fund” or “Not Fund” when reviewing applications. Please be aware each category will have distinct areas to address, which are listed in the Categories and Project Description section above.

The review panel will assess all applications and will recommend grants for applicants that strongly meet the review criteria below. The panel's review of applications and required documents is a multi-step process and involves assigning applications as “Fund” or “Not Fund”. Applications must be assigned a “Fund” by the review panel to be considered for funding.

Quality of Proposed Project

  • Project goals, vision and process are clearly defined; demonstrate clarity and depth of concepts; and are relevant to requirements of the specific grant category.


  • Strength of the impact of the project on the organization and audience(S) and/or community.
  • Ability to demonstrate the impact and benefits of the project, including qualitative and quantitative results.

Application Review

Grantees will be selected by a staff review process comprised of representatives from the San Francisco Arts Commission and other City department staff or funding partners. Panelists will review applications and make funding recommendations. Priority will be given to applicants who successfully meet the criteria within each funding category.

Panel Review Attendance

SPX panels are not open to the public. Please note an applicant that is found to have made attempts to influence a panelist in any way will be automatically disqualified.

Funding Recommendations

Based on an evaluation of the proposals, panelists assign applications as “Fund” or “Not Fund” for funding recommendations for each category. Applications that do not have “Fund” assigned will not be eligible for funding. Grant amounts are either the full amount of the grant sought or a substantial portion of the requested grant—and never less than 75 percent.

Panel Notes

Panelists may take notes during their review. You may contact sfac.grants@sfgov.org to obtain panel comments.

Funding Approval

Panel recommendations are subject to the approval of the Arts Commission. Typically, recommendations are first reviewed by the Community Investments Committee, then by the full Commission. Meetings of the Commission are public. The agenda will be available on the Arts Commission website at sfartscommission.org 72 hours in advance of the meeting.

Grant Awards

Grant award notifications will be emailed following Commission approval and include instructions about contracting procedures.


What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

March 05
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

March 05
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

March 05
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

March 05
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125