Welcome to the 2020 Local Arts Grants application process. Local Arts Grants provide general operating support for small and mid-sized nonprofit arts organizations that:
  • Demonstrate artistic quality while reflecting the dynamic, diverse, and innovative character of Santa Clara County
  • Positively impact the County’s cultural ecosystem through active and sustained engagement with audiences, volunteers, and artists
  • Pursue organizational sustainability in service to the local community

Application Deadline

Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm (Pacific)

Application and Funding Cycle

The grant term for 2020 Local Arts Grants is July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021.
  • February 7, 2020 | Grant application opens on the SVCREATES online grant portal
  • April 3, 2020 | Deadline for all applications
  • May – June 2020 | Panel review sessions
  • July 2020 | Grant award notifications sent by email

Funding Levels

As of 2019, all applications are reviewed by “funding level.” Your organization’s funding level is determined by your total operating budget for the last completed fiscal year. This marks a change from previous grant cycles when applications were reviewed by “focus area.” You will not be required to select a focus area.

Your funding level also determines your maximum grant request.

Funding Level 1
  • Total expenses $8,000 to $99,999. Maximum request $4,000.
  • Organizations with total expenses less than $8,000 may request 50% of total expenses for the past fiscal year.
  Funding Level 2
  • Total expenses $100,000 to $299,999. Maximum request $5,500.
  Funding Level 3
  • Total expenses $300,000 to $999,999. Maximum request $9,000.
  Funding Level 4
  • Total expenses $1 million to $2.5 million. Maximum request $10,000.
If your organization falls between funding levels over the past few years, or you need additional guidance in selecting your funding level, please consult with SVCREATES’ staff.


1. Purpose: Your organization’s primary purpose must be the performance, production, or presentation of arts and cultural activities that are open and accessible to all.

2. Geography: Your organization’s home base (primary business office or performance/exhibition venue/facility) must be located in Santa Clara County and the majority of your arts programming (performances, presentations, exhibitions) must take place in Santa Clara County.

3. History: Your organization must have been performing, producing or presenting in Santa Clara County a minimum of 3-years prior to the term of the grant.

4. Size: Your organization’s budget (total expenses of last completed fiscal year) must not exceed $2.5 million (exclusive of in-kind).

5. Tax Status: Your organization must be a California non-profit corporation with a 501c3 tax-exempt certification.
  • Level 1 and 2 applicants may use a fiscal sponsor with 501c3 tax-exempt status.
  • Level 3 and 4 applicants must be 501c3 nonprofits.
6. Your organization must have satisfied all of the reporting requirements of any previously awarded grants from SVCREATES.


  • For-profit organizations are not eligible.
  • Institutions of primary and secondary education are not eligible.
  • Local governments are not eligible.
  • Universities and colleges are limited to providing fiscal sponsorship for one arts program only. Grants may not support operating costs for the university or college, but must be applied to program and overhead costs of the applying entity.
  • Grants may not be applied toward support for political or religious purposes, fundraisers for other organizations or causes, capital improvements, the purchase of equipment or real property, or projects already completed.

How to Apply

The Local Arts Grant application and supporting materials are submitted online through SVCREATES online grant portal. Login instructions for new and returning grantees, as well as video tutorials, are provided on the Logon Page here. You may also reach the application portal through a link on the SVCREATES Local Arts Grants webpage.

Application Components

Complete instructions are incorporated into the application itself; we recommend you review the complete application and all instructions carefully before you begin.

The application is organized into the following sections:

Funding Level and Grant Request

Narrative Questions
  • Organization Mission and History
  • Program Description
  • Organizational Challenges and Strategic Direction
  Quantitative Questions
  • Attendance/Events/Activities
  • Workforce and Board
  Finance and Budget
  • SVCREATES Budget and Notes form (link to this form is in the application or on the sidebar to the right)
  • Quantitative questions regarding Assets/Liabilities and Fundraising
  • As of 2019, we no longer ask you to submit the DataArts Funder Report
  Work Samples
  • Work samples are important for demonstrating the artistic quality of your programs. You are required to submit at least one work sample (video, audio, digital images). As before, all work samples must be submitted via web link.
  Supporting Documents
  • You may upload up to two supporting documents that demonstrate the impact of your programs on viewers/participants. Examples include: letters of support, reviews, audience surveys, screenshot of Facebook posts.
  • Supporting documents are optional, however you are strongly encouraged to submit at least one document.
  Interim Report for 2019 Local Arts Grants:
  • We require interim reporting only, at the time of application. Look for three brief questions in the application itself.
  • Final grant reports for 2019 Local Arts Grants will be due on August 31, 2020.

Local Arts Grants Review Criteria

Applications will be scored on the following three criteria:

1. Quality of Programs
  • Artistic merit of programs.
2. Impact
  • Clarity of Mission Statement and alignment of programs and activities with mission.
  • Community engagement, including audiences, volunteers, and artists.
  • Contribution to the cultural vitality of Silicon Valley.
3. Sustainability
  • Management capability, including leadership strength and stability (staff, board, volunteers).
  • Clear strategic direction.
  • Realistic view of challenges and how to meet them.
  • Realistic budgets and diverse base of financial support.
  • Active and effective fund development.
  • Appropriate asset to liability balance, if applicable.

Review Process

1. An independent grant review panel scores and ranks applications. Panelists will recuse themselves from reviewing applications with which they have a conflict of interest.

2. Applicants are notified of the dates when the review panel convenes and are encouraged to send a representative to the session. Following the panel discussion of their application, applicants may choose to provide written comments OR speak for up to 2 minutes.
  • Comments should address statements made during the panel discussion, to provide clarification to questions raised or to communicate relevant information not included in the application.
  • The panel will consider both the written and spoken comments during closed recess periods.
3. SVCREATES staff converts panel scoring and rankings into award amounts, based on available funding.

Grantee Requirements

  • Grant payments will be made upon receipt of signed grant agreements and, if applicable, final reports due for any previously awarded SVCREATES grants.
  • Include grant acknowledgement in all program collateral: “Supported by Silicon Valley Creates, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara.”
  • Optional: Grantee may be requested to provide a limited number of free tickets or admissions for special underserved youth populations.

Additional Grantee Benefits

  • Discounts on SVCREATES conferences and workshops
  • Content Magazine Subscription

Applicant Support

Application Workshop – highly recommended for 2020 Local Arts Grants Applicants.
  • February 11, 2020 from 6:00 – 7:30pm
  • Local Color Underground, 310 South First St., San Jose
New this year: we’re crafting a sample application for your reference! Available on our website following the workshop.

Phone Calls and Emails Welcome
  • We are here to answer your questions and support you through the application process.
  • Please call or email Alyssa Erickson, Program Manager: alyssae@svcreates.org; 408-998-2787 x 204.