Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions FAQ

The Hewlett Foundation hosted an introductory webinar about the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions on Thursday, January 26. The webinar provides information about eligibility requirements and selection criteria, and includes questions from participants about the application process. The slides from the webinar, along with our presentation notes, are also available.

Hewlett Foundation staff will also be answering questions about the initiative in the space below. If you have a question that has not yet been answered, please email us.

Important Dates

April 14: Letter of inquiry (LOI) is due by 11:59 PM Pacific

June 14: Applicants will be notified whether their LOI has been declined or if they are invited to develop and submit a full proposal

August 14: Deadline to submit a full proposal if invited

November 14: Public announcement of the grant recipients

Eligibility

Who is eligible to submit a letter of inquiry (LOI)?

Any nonprofit organization based in the eleven counties of the greater San Francisco Bay Area is eligible to submit an LOI — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma counties. The nonprofit does not need to be an arts producer or presenter. Individual artists may not apply for a grant. Artists must partner with a Bay Area nonprofit as the lead applicant.

What is a “lead applicant?”

The lead applicant is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the project, submitting the LOI, developing the full proposal if invited, and commissioning the artist. The lead applicant may collaborate with other organizations.

Can current Hewlett Foundation grantees apply?

Yes, current Hewlett Foundation grantees in all of our program areas are eligible to apply if based in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Can nonprofits based outside the Bay Area apply?

No, nonprofits based outside the greater San Francisco Bay Area cannot apply directly. However, they may collaborate on an LOI with a lead applicant based in one of the 11 counties listed above.

Can we apply using a fiscal sponsor?

A fiscal sponsor can be the lead applicant for the LOI, if the fiscal sponsor is located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Can a fiscal sponsor submit multiple applications?

Yes, a fiscal sponsor may submit LOIs for multiple projects.

Can a fiscally-sponsored entity have a budget under the $100,000 threshold if the fiscal sponsor’s overall budget is over $100,000?

No.  The fiscally sponsored entity must itself meet the requirement of a minimum $100,000 annual budget over three years.

Can a nonprofit organization apply more than once?

A nonprofit may apply once per year as a lead applicant. If awarded a grant, the lead applicant may not apply again.

Can an artist be commissioned more than once?

If a lead applicant receives a grant to commission an artist, the artist cannot receive a second commission in future years.

Does the artist have to be from the San Francisco Bay Area?

The artist may be from anywhere in the world.

What if the artist is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the lead applicant is not?

Regardless of where the artist is based, the lead applicant must be based in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Can an artist apply directly for a grant using a fiscal sponsor?

No. Nonprofit organizations are the lead applicants for these grants.

Can an organization commission an existing staff member, teacher or artist?

While current employees of the lead applicant organization are eligible to serve as the lead artist on an application, our intent is to commission world-class artists to create works of the highest artistic quality and enduring value.

Is preference given to local, national or international artists?

Artists may be based anywhere in the world, with no preference for one location over another.

What if the lead applicant would like to commission an artist collective or an ensemble?

The lead applicant may work with an artist collective or an ensemble, but the lead applicant must designate a single lead artist from the collective or ensemble.

Are the music genres listed on the website the only music genres that will be considered?

No, all musical genres will be considered. Those genres listed on the website are examples only.

What if the commissioned artist does not notate their music compositions?

It is not necessary for an artist to notate the music, as long as work samples can be provided (audio or video).

Can we apply for an award for a work currently in development?

Yes, so long as the project meets the other requirements for eligibility. 

Project Budget

How much should the commissioned artist be paid?

Our goal is to attract the best artists in their respective fields. Two-thirds of the Hewlett Foundation award should support the creation and development of the commissioned work, including the lead artist’s commissioning fee ($50,000 minimum) and their direct expenses such as travel and accommodations, as well as payments to other artists who participate in the creation of the work. The remaining one-third of the Hewlett Foundation award should support the presentation of the premiere, including expenses associated with production, marketing, fundraising, venue, and payments to performers. The LOI budget template contains examples of how project expenses expenses should be allocated.

If an organization collaborates with more than one artist on the creation of a new work, does each participating artist receive a $50,000 commissioning fee?

The lead artist must receive a minimum of $50,000 as their commissioning fee. Payments to other artists who participate in the creation of the new work can count towards the guideline that two-thirds of Hewlett Foundation award go to the creation of the new work.

Is the size of the grant limited by the organization’s operating budget?

It is not. We are encouraging organizations to think big. An organization may receive an award equal to or more than its budget size if we determine that it has the financial capacity to successfully execute the proposed project.

Can the project budget be larger than the grant request? Is there a requirement for matching funds?

We anticipate funding both projects that have additional sources of funding and those that are funded solely by the Hewlett Foundation’s award.

What financial information will need to be provided?

A very brief project budget that is included in the online application system. Lead applicants must also provide one of the following: 1) A current DataArts cultural data profile; or 2) the most recent audited financials; or 3) financial statements from the most recently completed fiscal year.

LOI Process

Can multiple users work on the online LOI?

Yes, an application may have more than one user. Multiple users will need to share sign on credentials.

Who do we contact if we are having problems with the form?

If there is a technology problem with the online LOI system, please contact our provider at Fluid Review.

If there are questions regarding the LOI requirements or process, please contact  Hewlett Foundation.

What if we submitted the LOI before it was completed?

You may continue to edit an LOI after it has been submitted, up until the submission deadline: April 14, 2017. Please note, the application portal closes at 11:59pm on that date.

When should I apply for a commission in theater, dance, traditional arts, or film and media?

This year’s commissions will be awarded in music composition, and we are only accepting applications now. Organizations may apply for other disciplines in the years we award those commissions:

2018: Theater, Spoken Word, and Musical Theater

2019: Dance and Multi-discipline Performance Art

2020: Folk and Traditional Arts

2021: Film and Media

We will likely follow a similar application and award schedule during each successive year: letter of inquiry accepted from January through April, finalists notified and full proposals developed in the summer, and awards announced in November.

When must the commissioned work be premiered?

For this year’s commissions in music composition, the premiere must take place between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020. For subsequent years’ commissions, premieres must take place in one of the three years immediately following the year of the award.

Are there any requirements regarding the venue?

Only that it be located within the 11 counties of the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

What are the expectations regarding community engagement?

An objective of the initiative is to engage and impact local communities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Community engagement is demonstrated by the quality, depth and scope of the opportunities to impact diverse communities. Applicants will describe their current constituents, the intended audiences for the project, how the community will be engaged by the project; and the significance of the work to the Bay Area and beyond. Applicants will also describe the factors that will contribute to accessibility, the venues for the premiere, and the potential for touring and/or additional performances.

Review and Selection

Who will review the LOI?

An anonymous, national panel of experts from the music field will review and score all LOIs.

How will the application be scored?

Four criteria are used for scoring the LOI: 1) Artistic Excellence; 2) Community Engagement; 3) Collaboration and Leadership; and 4) Financial Capacity. For a full explanation, please see: How to apply for a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission.

Will we receive feedback about the review?

Due to the large number of LOIs we expect to receive, we will not be able to provide individual feedback.

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