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Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions

Grants to California Nonprofits in Eligible Counties
to Commission Works of Performing Arts

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Conf. Date:


LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

05/18/21 5:00 PM PST


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Grants to California nonprofit organizations in eligible counties to commission works of performing arts in eligible genres. Applicants are required to submit a letter of intent prior to a full application. Applicants that serve historically marginalized or disadvantaged communities are encouraged to apply. Performances must be in the folk and traditional genre, which may include dance, music, storytelling and theater, and other traditional arts expressions that have a strong performative element, according to the community of practice. Nonprofits must be based in the Bay Area area counties. The lead artist may be from anywhere in the world

Folk & traditional arts:

  • Folk and traditional arts are expressions that are learned as part of the cultural life of a community. Members of these communities may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores (customs), language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These traditions are shaped by the aesthetics and values of a shared culture, and are passed from generation to generation through observation, conversation, and practice. Traditional arts flourish as they continually change and adapt to new settings and circumstances while remaining informed by shared ancestral knowledge.
  • Forms as diverse as Ohlone basketry, gospel music, Japanese koto music, Oaxacan mask making used in dance-ritual, as well as queer voguing are all examples of folk & traditional arts. Each of these expressions is strongly rooted in specific tribal, ethnic, regional, or cultural communities.
  • The commissions will seek to support a wide variety of traditional art forms to show the breadth, creativity, and living practices rooted in cultural communities.

A final round of the awards, in 2022, will focus on media arts.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182904

Number of Grants:


Estimated Size of Grant:

All applications must request $150,000. The lead artist commissioning fee must be at least $50,000.
All proposals must request $150,000. A minimum of two-thirds of the commission ($100,000) should support the creation and development of the commissioned work. This amount includes the $50,000 lead artist commissioning fee. Any remaining funds may support the presentation of the commissioned work.

Term of Contract:

The commissioning project must premiere in the San Francisco Bay Area within three years of the award date (by August 2024).

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants:
- 501(c)(3) public charities based in the San Francisco Bay Area submit an application identifying the artist they propose commissioning and describing the proposed project.
- Eligible 501(c)(3) public charities must be based in one of the eleven Bay Area counties. Applicants do not need to be arts-focused organizations, and organizations working on diverse issues are encouraged to consider submitting an application. Successful proposals will represent an authentic collaboration between organization and artists.
- The non-profit must have a minimum organizational budget of $50,000 (averaged budget in fiscal years 2018 and 2019).

The proposed project must not be a current grant recipient of a Gerbode Special Award in the Arts or the Creative Work Fund.

Lead artists who have been awarded a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions award in the past cannot be lead artists for this commission, but they can be collaborating artists.

The lead artist may not be a student at the time of application submission, or during the grant period. Additionally, projects featuring performers that are predominantly conventional school-age students (K-12 and college) are not eligible to apply.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Info Sessions:
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, which is administering the folk and traditional arts round of the awards, will host the following info sessions via Zoom:
- Wednesday, January 27, 12 PM – 1:15 PM
- Wednesday, January 27, 6:00 -7:15 PM
- Friday, January 29, 12 PM – 1:15 PM with ASL interpretation
- Monday, February 8, 4:00 – 5:15 PM

See Contact Information, below, for registration information

Pre-Application Information:

Application Date at a Glance
- January 22: Letter of Intent (LOI) + Guidelines announced and available online
- March 8: Letter of Intent (LOI) deadline
- April 15: Applicants declined or notified they are a finalist and invited to submit a full proposal
- May 18: Finalists’ full proposals due
- August 6: Finalists receive decline or award notice
- August TBD: Awardee meeting with the Hewlett Foundation and ACTA
- October: Awardees receive payment
- Oct-Nov TBD: Public announcement of awards

Step 1 - Letter of Intent: Eligible nonprofits and lead artists may submit an online Letter of Intent (LOI) beginning on January 22, 2021. The deadline for submitting is March 8, 2021. A national panel will review all LOIs and make recommendations for up to 25 applicants to submit full proposals for award consideration.

Step 2 - Invited Full Proposal: Up to 25 organizations will be invited to submit full proposals by the deadline of May 18, 2021. The full proposals will give the finalists an opportunity to develop their projects with a more detailed work plan, budget, and memorandum of understanding between the lead organization and lead artist. Additional work samples will also be requested as part of the full proposal. A second national review panel will make recommendations to the Hewlett Foundation, which will make the final decisions on the 10 awards.

There is no matching fund requirement.

Projects that are awarded funding for folk and traditional arts will receive the entire $150,000 payment in October 2021 after a grant agreement has been signed and approved by both the lead applicant and the Hewlett Foundation.


How to Apply:

Contact Information:

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

Submit Letter of Intent online:

Register for the info sessions by sending an email to

For assistance, please contact Lily Kharrazi, ACTA’s Director of Special Initiatives at or by phone at (415) 244-5207.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
2121 Sand Hill Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 234-4500

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: California: San Francisco Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma Counties

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