Special Project Grants


APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED: Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 12 p.m. NOON
(submission through sf.culturegrants.org)

For any questions about Special Project Grants, contact Senior Program Officer 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.

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

Important Dates

Applications Due EXTENDED: December 13, 2017, 12 p.m. NOON
Panel Review December 2017
Funding Recommendations January 2018
Commission Approval February 2018
Grant Period January 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

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.

Alignment with SFAC goals

Priority funding goes to organizations that foster artistic expression deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized communities. Using both the Cultural Equity Endowment Legislation and the Grantmakers in the Arts’ “Racial Equity: Statement of Purpose,” these communities include: African and African American; Latino/a; Asian and Asian American; Arab; Native American; Pacific Islander; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer; Transgender and Gender Variant People; People with Disabilities; and Women. (SF ADMIN. CODE CHAPTER 68: CULTURAL EQUITY ENDOWMENT FUND. Sec. 68.6. PROJECT GRANTS).

Please note: We recognize that some marginalized communities may not be listed here and encourage applicants to articulate and provide supporting evidence about the marginalization for any community not named above. Please also note the legislation pertains to marginalized communities and not fringe artistic disciplines. 

Organizations must align with one of SFAC’s goals for equitable grantmaking:

  • Capacity Building: Build capacity, resilience and economic viability of individual artists from historically marginalized communities.
  • Accessibility: Provide a space to access art and creativity for historically marginalized communities.
  • Cultural Integrity: Create or present work that demonstrates integrity and ethical use of material with specific cultural origins and context.
  • Intersectionality: Address how race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status, religion, class, etc. are interconnected through artistic programming or process.

Eligible Request Amount

Special Project Grants vary project to project and the award amounts this cycle range from $10,000 to $56,000. Please refer to each project description for the eligible request amount.

categories and project descriptions

District numbers can be found at: http://propertymap.sfplanning.org/

1. District 1 Neighborhood Art Walk: Support up to $10,000 for a neighborhood-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) or fiscally sponsored neighborhood or merchant organization, association or volunteer coalition to produce a one-time neighborhood and community focused art walk in the District 1 commercial corridor.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • The organization’s history and previous experiences working cooperatively with merchants and other neighborhood-based partners, such as neighborhood associations and/or schools on neighborhood-based events.
  • How the organization will outreach and engage the neighborhood.
  • How diverse art forms will be integrated into the event; highlighting family friendly arts-based activities such as hands on art making, performances and/or art exhibitions.
  • A budget that reflects payment to artists.
  • The support of participating partners in the form of a support letter.

2. District 1 Arts Festival: Support up to $40,000 for an organization to implement a multi-ethnic San Francisco based arts festival that highlights local artists and celebrates global cultural traditions. Funds can be used to cover artistic fees for San Francisco based artists and related production costs. The festival must take place before June 30, 2019 and does not have to solely take place in District 1.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:


  • The organization’s history and experience developing, producing and presenting multi-ethnic, performing arts festivals that focuses on global cultural traditions.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership that conveys confidence that the festival will be successful.
  • An appropriate outreach strategy to fully engage San Francisco audiences.
  • A budget that reflects payment to San Francisco based artists.

3. District 5 Hayes Valley Art Activation: Support up to $30,000 for an organization or collaborative to provide art activation of vacant parcels along Octavia Boulevard. Activities may include gallery shows, workshops and classes, special events and general community engagement. The organization will be responsible for site oversight and on-site security and maintenance.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • The organization or collaborative’s history and experience producing community engagement opportunities through the arts.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership and partnerships that conveys confidence that the proposed activities will be successful.
  • Provide proof of site control over proposed activation sites.
  • A budget that includes payment to San Francisco based artists.

4. District 8 Classical Programming for Youth: Support up to $15,000 for an organization to provide musical education as SFUSD schools located in District 8. The organization must be based in District 8 and have a mission and history of teaching and performing classical music to elementary and middle school youth. Funds may be used to create curriculum materials, pay artist stipends to teach, rehearsal time and expenses directly related to classroom and school assembly and performing. Effort must be made to provide classes and workshops in SFUSD schools located in District 8 that serve a diverse and or historically marginalized community and whose students may not be previously exposed to classical music. The project should be completed within the grant window of January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • The organization’s demonstrated history producing, presenting and teaching classical music to children and youth.
  • Proposed curriculum that is appropriate for the targeted age group of students.
  • A feasible timeline and budget.
  • Provide two letters of support from public schools located in District 8.

5. District 10 Blanken Tunnel Mural: Support up to $20,000 for an individual artist or organization to oversee the design, approval and installation of a mural in Little Hollywood at the intersection of Blanken and Tunnel avenues. The mural design should reflect the interests of the Little Hollywood community; have approval of the property owner; and be of the highest standard. Applicants are responsible for obtaining all permissions and permitting requirements.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • Experience successfully executing high quality murals of a similar scale.
  • How the Little Hollywood neighborhood will be engaged in the project.
  • How the proposed mural image demonstrates a strong understanding of the neighborhood.
  • The support of the property owner for the proposed sight in the form of a support letter.

6. Citywide LGBT Historical Event Festival: Support up to $30,000 for an organization that has a history of producing San Francisco based, LGBTQ outdoor festivals.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • A demonstrated history of producing an outdoor LGBTQ event or festival for at least five years.
  • Acknowledge that they can meet all City requirements, including permitting and safety requirements.
  • The support of a participating partner in the form of a support letter.

7. Citywide Anti-Tagging Program for Youth: Support up to $56,000 to support an artist or organization that can demonstrate no less than a two-year history of providing an arts based curriculum for youth to address issues and outcomes of illegal of tagging and unwarranted graffiti with youth.

Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:

  • Demonstrate at least two years of work and an understanding of the impact of tagging and illegal graffiti.
  • How they will provide a curriculum of no less than four, consecutive classes appropriate and/or adapted for grades 5 to 12.
  • How the proposed teaching artist(s) are qualified to teach both in school and in afterschool settings.
  • How they will provide arts based anti-graffiti classes at no cost to the participating school or afterschool program
  • How they will serve no less than 10 sites within the grant window.
  • The provision of a letter of support from a teaching artist and a letter of support from a site.

Who Can Apply


  • The organization must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or have a fiscal sponsor that is so qualified.
  • The organization (and its fiscal sponsor, if applicable) must be based in San Francisco.
  • 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 grant category applying to.
  • The applicant organization cannot be part of another City agency or department.
  • The organization must demonstrate a continuing and stable presence in the community and been in existence for at least two years with documentation of creating and presenting original works to the public in San Francisco for at least four events that span from October 2015 to the grant deadline.
  • Applicants must not be in default on any grants or loans from: (1) SFAC, (2) other City departments (including, without limitation, 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, 2018 and June 30, 2019.
  • 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 supplier requirements, visit: 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.
  • Applicants must receive an average score of 75 percent or above by the review panel to be considered for funding. Funding is not guaranteed for a score of 75 percent or above, and is determined by the availability of funds.


  • 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, promote or present the art created. It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure a venue, appropriate insurance and any required permits for public presentations or workshops.
  • Grant funds may not pay for:
  1. Projects that do not take place within San Francisco.
  2. Regranting.
  3. Start-up costs/seed money for new organizations or businesses.
  4. Food and beverage expenses.

project requirements

  • Public Presentation Requirement (if applicable): Projects must be developed and presented in San Francisco and culminate in a local public presentation or a meaningful, accessible engagement of the public within the grant period. They may be targeted at specific audiences and/or charge a fee, but they cannot be limited to “closed” audiences. Projects that involve radio or television broadcasting, as well as internet-distributed projects, should have a clear San Francisco orientation with particular articulation of, and attention to, the intended audience. The same is true of publication-based projects and others that, by their nature, do not involve presence in a physical space. Applicants must include confirmation or a tentative commitment from a publicly accessible San Francisco venue for the project. Venues can be formal or informal and either the venue or the applicant must secure liability insurance.
  • 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, and approvals. This planning should be reflected in your project timeline.
    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: Jenn Crane at jennifer.crane@sfgov.org  for murals; Aleta Lee at aleta.lee@sfgov.org for sculpture or any other type of public art.

Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Scoring Criteria

Panelists will be instructed to use the following scoring criteria 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.

Alignment with SFAC Goals (20 points maximum):

  • The applicant demonstrates a thorough understanding of communities served and intentionality for serving those communities, and has a sound strategy for meeting the needs of the communities they serve.
  • The organization strongly aligns with one of SFAC goals for equitable grantmaking.
  • Leadership has adequate relevant experience to work in communities served.

Artistic History (20 points maximum):

  • The organization demonstrates strong artistic promise through its artistic history, accomplishments, and examples of previous work.

Quality of Proposed Project (35 points maximum):

  • Project goals, vision and process are clearly defined; demonstrate clarity and depth of concepts; and are relevant to requirements of the specific grant category.
  • Ability to demonstrate the impact and benefits of the project, including qualitative and quantitative results.

Ability to Complete the Project (25 points maximum):

  • Clarity of project timeline; qualifications of project’s team; viability of project budget; and overall fiscal health of applicant.

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, panelist scores create a ranking for funding recommendations for each category. Applicants that do not score above 75 percent of the allotted points 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 deliberations. 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 Arts, Education & Grants 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.

Print Guidelines (PDF) APPLY NOW Print instructions (word doc) 

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125