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FY24 Individual Artist Project Grants

City of Berkeley | Civic Arts Grant Guidelines

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1.1 Purpose – Why these grants are offered.

The Civic Arts program supports a culturally vibrant and diverse arts ecosystem within the City of Berkeley by funding grants to artists, arts organizations, and festivals.

Individual Artist Project grants support artists living in Berkeley in creating new work. The new work must include a public presentation that engages Berkeley residents in a meaningful way.

1.2 Land Acknowledgment

The City of Berkeley recognizes that the community we live in was built on the territory of xučyun (Huchiun), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people, the ancestors and descendants of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to all of the Ohlone Tribes and descendants of the Verona Band. We acknowledge and honor the original inhabitants of Berkeley, the documented 5,000-year history of a vibrant community at the West Berkeley Shellmound, and the Ohlone people who continue to reside in the East Bay. We recognize that Berkeley’s residents have and continue to benefit from the use and occupation of this unceded stolen land since the City of Berkeley’s incorporation in 1878. As stewards of the laws regulating the City of Berkeley, it is not only vital that we recognize the history of this land, but also recognize that the Ohlone people are present members of Berkeley and other East Bay communities today. The City of Berkeley will continue to build relationships with the Lisjan Tribe and to create meaningful actions that uphold the intention of this land acknowledgement.

1.3 Cultural Equity Statement

The City of Berkeley Civic Arts program commits to equity within the arts and culture sector by consistently evaluating its programs and practices. The City recognizes the multiple benefits the arts provide, regardless of race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Beyond ensuring access to the arts, the City of Berkeley commits to supporting artists and arts organizations that represent diverse cultures, life experiences, and socio-economic backgrounds. The City supports the empowerment of perspectives and identities that have been historically and systemically underrepresented.

1.4 Eligibility – Who can apply?

Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Applicant is an individual artist and not applying as a partnership, group, or collective
  • Applicant is resident of the City of Berkeley
  • Applicant is an artist working in dance, film and new media, folk and traditional arts, literary arts, music, social practice, theater, or visual arts
  • Applicant is 18 years of age or older

Please note: Individual Artist Project grantees do not use Fiscal Sponsors.

1.5 Eligibility – Who can’t apply?

  • City of Berkeley employees employed at the time of the application or during any part of the Grant Activity Period
  • Full-time students enrolled at the time of the application or during any part of the Grant Activity Period
  • Individual Artist Project grantees from the last two Fiscal Years
  • Individuals who do not live in the City of Berkeley
  • Organizational applicants (for example, festivals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, etc.)

1.6 Who is encouraged to apply?

  • Artists in any phase of their artistic career including emerging, midcareer, and established artists
  • Although not considered in review process, individuals representing systemically marginalized identities, including but not limited to: Arab, MENASA (Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian); Asian; Black, African American; California Native American, Indigenous, Tribal; Disabled; Elders, Seniors; Latinx, Chicanx; LGBTQIA2S+; Low Income; Neuro-Divergent; Pacific Islander; People of Color; Trans and/or Non-Binary People; Immigrants (Documented and/or Undocumented), Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants; Unhoused; Unsheltered; Veterans; or Youth 18 years of age or older are strongly encouraged to apply.

1.7 Grant Amount

The Individual Artist Project grant is a $4,000 award.

Final award amounts are contingent upon City Council’s adoption of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

Final award amounts are subject to change based on the adopted budget allocation for Civic Arts Grants in Fiscal Year 2024.

1.8 Funding Use – Grant money can be used for these things.

A project budget is not required for this application. Examples of eligible expenses for this funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Artist fees
  • Equipment rentals
  • ·Living expenses during the Grant Activity Period (for example, rent, utilities, childcare, etc.)
  • Stipends for collaborators
  • Supplies and materials needed for the project
  • Venue or studio fees

1.9 Funding Use Restrictions – Grant money can’t be used for these things.

Grant funds may not be used for the following:

  • Expenses incurred outside of the Grant Activity Period
  • Joint projects funded by two or more Individual Artist Project awards
  • Political advocacy or lobbying
  • Project production and presentation activities outside of the City of Berkeley
  • Projects for which the main intent is curation, archiving, or journalism

1.10 Project Requirements

  • All project components must be completed within the Grant Activity Period.
  • Public presentation. A public presentation in Berkeley is required. In-person or virtual presentations may include, but are not limited to: performing arts productions; visual art presentations, exhibitions or public art projects; social practice projects; media arts or film screenings; literary readings; or artist talks.


2.1 Grant Application Materials

All application materials must be submitted electronically before the deadline. The Individual Artist Project grant application consists of the following components:

  • Proof of residency
  • Applicants must submit paperwork demonstrating Berkeley residency with their application. Unhoused and unsheltered artists may provide a letter from a Berkeley-based shelter or a Berkeley-based homeless service program as proof of Berkeley residency.
  • Narrative questions
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)
  • Work samples and descriptions

2.2 Grants Management System

All application materials must be submitted electronically using the Office of Economic Development’s grants management system, Submittable. Technical assistance creating a Submittable account is available through Submittable’s Customer Support.

Please note: Paper or physical applications are not accepted at this time.

2.3 Technical Assistance

Technical assistance for grant program-specific inquiries is available from Civic Arts staff by email or by appointment. This technical assistance can help provide guidance around eligibility, application requirements, or review criteria.

Resources available on the Civic Arts website are a FAQs (frequently asked questions) page and a recording of the Grant Program Webinar.

2.4 Accommodations for Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to participate should make their requests to the Civic Arts staff at civicarts@cityofberkeley.info. Staff will work with the Disability Compliance Program (ada@cityofberkely.info) to review and fulfill the request. Disability-related accommodation requests must be made at least 72 hours in advance of deadlines or meetings. TTY users can dial 7-1-1 to be connected to a specially trained communications assistant from a state relay provider.

2.5 Translation Services

The grant guidelines are available to be translated into another language upon request. Requests can be emailed to Civic Arts staff at civicarts@cityofberkeley.info. If the application is submitted in a language other than English, a third-party translation service will be used to translate application answers into English for Grant Review Panelists.


3.1  Review Criteria

Applications will be evaluated in a Grant Review Panel meeting according to the following criteria:

Artistic Practice and Experience (30%)

  • Work samples demonstrate high-quality or promise
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) demonstrates high-quality or promise through its artistic history and accomplishments
  • Reasoning for how funding will enhance, develop, and/or transform the applicant’s artistic practice is compelling

Project Narrative (30%)

  • Project goals are clearly defined
  • Project plan and timeline demonstrate clarity and feasibility
  • Project processes demonstrate originality, skill, and depth of concepts
  • Proposed final work is impactful for the artist and City of Berkeley

Cultural Equity (30%)

  • Applicant clearly conveys how their personal experiences and/or identities are rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized communities.
  • Applicant demonstrates an appropriate relationship between their creative practice and a historically marginalized community(ies)

Community Impact (10%)

  • At least one venue, broadcast format, or virtual platform for public presentation is identified; feasibility of using identified venue is articulated
  • Proposed public presentation is appropriate to the project goals and engages a defined Berkeley audience/community in a meaningful way

3.2  Scoring Scale

Grant Review Panelists use the following scale in assessing how well the applicant meets the review criteria. Numerical values are then translated to the appropriate weight for each criterion.

  • 5 - Exceptional: meets review criteria to the highest degree
  • 4- Strong: strongly meets review criteria
  • 3 - Good: satisfactorily or successfully meets review criteria; average
  • 2 - Fair: moderately meets some of the review criteria; needs some improvement
  • 1 - Underdeveloped: minimally meets the review criteria; greatly needs improvement
  • 0 - Weak: does not meet any elements of the review criteria


4.1 Eligibility Screening

Civic Arts staff will review each application submitted before the deadline for eligibility and completeness. Eligible applications will be evaluated by a Grant Review Panel for scoring in accordance with the review criteria.

4.2 Grant Review Panel

The Grant Review Panel is comprised of individuals located in the greater Bay Area with diverse backgrounds in the cultural sector. Individuals apply to be included in the panelist pool through an open call. The Civic Arts Commission approves the pool of panelists that can be selected to serve on a panel.

Any Review Panelist who has a conflict of interest with an application(s) must recuse themselves from reviewing that application(s). A ‘conflict of interest’ is defined as a situation in which a Review Panelist has a competing professional, financial, or personal interests that might could impair their ability to perform their evaluation responsibilities objectively.

The Grant Review Panel meeting is public and facilitated through a Zoom Video Webinar. All applicants receive information regarding the panel meeting’s date, time, and order in which applications will be reviewed. Applicants are encouraged to attend the panel meeting.

Applicants are permitted three (3) minutes at the end of the panel’s review of their application to clarify any aspects of the application that may have been misunderstood by the panelists. The three minutes to address the panelists may not be used to give additional information not included in the application.

Panel comments made by panelists in support of their scores are available to applicants upon request once they receive the official notice of their application’s award or decline from Civic Arts.

4.3 Civic Arts Commission Approval

After the Grant Review Panel has scored all applications, the Civic Arts Commission’s Grants Subcommittee meets to develop funding recommendations in alignment with the rankings and availability of funds. The Subcommittee ensures proposed grant awards are aligned with granting policies and guidelines before forwarding the recommendations to the full Civic Arts Commission.

The award amounts as recommended by the Grants Subcommittee are made public at least five (5) business days prior to the Civic Arts Commission approval. The Civic Arts Commission reviews the funding recommendations and votes on final approval.

4.4 Appeal Process

Applicants who have evidence of misconduct or technical error in the panel review process may appeal the Grant Subcommittee’s proposed funding scenario by completing an appeal form. Appeal forms must be received at least 48 hours in advance of the Civic Arts Commission meeting where final funding decisions are made. Applicants can email appeal forms to civicarts@cityofberkeley.info.

Please note: Dissatisfaction with a final score or award amount is not grounds for appeal.


5.1 Invoicing

Grantees must complete a Demographic Survey to receive their grant award invoice from Civic Arts. Staff will provide an invoice for 100% of the grant amount following City Council’s approval of the Fiscal Year’s budget.

Please note: Applicants should be aware of the tax implications upon receiving the award and maintain documents required for state and federal income taxes.

5.2 Final Report

All grantees must submit a completed Final Report form within 30 days after the end of the Grant Activity Period. Final Reports are usually due by July 30 unless otherwise noted. The Final Report should demonstrate how the grant-funded project was developed and implemented. The Final Report also includes evaluation questions for self-reflection and for Civic Arts staff to make improvements to the program. Grantees who do not submit a Final Report are ineligible from applying for any future Civic Arts grants.

5.3 Grant Activity Period Extension Requests

Grantees who experience circumstances that prevent them from completing their project before the end of the Grant Activity Period may request a Grant Activity Period Extension. A Grant Activity Period Extension may be requested for up to one (1) year beyond the original end-date. Requests must be received before the end of the Grant Activity Period and approved by Civic Arts staff.

5.4 Artist Showcase

Individual Artist Project grantees are required to participate in a virtual Artist Showcase to present their final project processes and products as a cohort. The Artist Showcase is an opportunity to see other grantees’ work and share their work with the Civic Arts community. The Artist Showcase may be recorded and used for Civic Arts promotional purposes.

5.5 Acknowledging City Support

It is important that the Berkeley community know that their local tax dollars make it possible for them to enjoy the caliber of arts produced in Berkeley. Grant recipients should acknowledge the City’s financial support by using the phrase “Supported in part by a Civic Arts Grant from the City of Berkeley” or including the “City of Berkeley” in lists of supporters. Grantees must display the City’s logo in all promotional materials and media.

5.6 City Permits and Permissions

Receiving a grant does not imply that the Civic Arts program or any other City department will produce, exhibit, or promote artwork(s) created with grant funds. It is the responsibility of the grantee to secure a venue and appropriate insurance for public presentations.

The grantee is solely responsible for securing the necessary City permits or approvals for elements such as publicly installed art, street closures, sound amplification in public space, or murals if included as part of the grant proposal. Planning for this should be reflected in the application narrative.

Any grant-funded art installed in the public realm or on property owned by the City of Berkeley must be reviewed and approved by the Civic Arts Commission and its Public Art Subcommittee The review process must be complete before the project is implemented. This review process applies to murals, public sculpture, and similar projects. This review process should be reflected in the project narrative.

5.7 Incomplete Projects

Failure to complete the grant-funded project, required public presentation, or participate in the Artist Showcase will result in a forfeiture of grant funds. Grantees with incomplete projects must return their award funds to the City of Berkeley.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.