Oakland, CA – On October 16, 2019, the Oakland City Council approved about $1,221,044 in fiscal year 2019-20 grants to Oakland-based nonprofit organizations and individual artists through the City’s Cultural Funding Program. The 91 arts grants range from $4,999 to $33,000 and have been awarded to 83 different recipients.
The grant funds will support over 15,050 individual arts events and activities, most of them offered free or low-cost to the public and will expose over 1,168,232 participants (75 percent Oakland-based) to cultural arts services and programming. Additionally, over 4,349 Oakland Unified School District students will be served through 44 artist residencies funded by the program.
“Arts are at the center of vibrant and diverse communities, and are critical to our city’s health and well-being,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “These grants help foster cultural experiences for Oaklanders while lifting up our artists and artist organizations. When our local artists and arts organizations are supported and firmly rooted, the entire city benefits.”
The grants support a wide range of Oakland-based artists and nonprofit organizations providing arts and cultural services in Oakland; infuse Oakland’s neighborhoods with arts and cultural activities that increase exposure to, understanding of and respect for diverse cultural heritages as well as support arts activities that engage the community; and support arts education activities in Oakland’s schools.
Organizational activities supported range from an Artist Endowment Program that will enhance Oakland First Fridays, to a celebration of the Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash) celebration hosted by the Ethiopian Cultural Community Center. Some Individual Artist Project grants include support for filmmaker Taylor “Made” Mosley’s work honoring Oakland’s role in the creation of urban dance forms and Ellen Oppenheimer’s project where the students from Peralta Elementary will work with students from Sankofa Elementary on a collaborative project. Neighborhood festivals like The Unity Council’s Dia De Los Muertos and The Black Joy Parade are also a part of this year’s grantee pool. Long-time institutions like the Oakland Symphony, Dimensions Dance Theater, Destiny Arts Center and Creative Growth Art Center will receive funding in this year.
This year also marks the first time in recent history that a non-English speaker has submitted a grant application. With support from the City’s Equal Access staff, Cultural Funding Program staff worked with 91-year-old Chung (Robert) Yuen Mui on his individual artist application to present an exhibition of his Chinese calligraphy and photography at the Asian Branch Library and Oakland City Hall. Mr. Mui presented at the review panel with the aide of interpreters and his request is one of the 91 grants being awarded in this cycle.
The Cultural Funding Program has four core funding categories. The Individual Arts Project funding category supports work by Oakland artists that culminates in a local public activity or event for the benefit of the community. Art in the Schools funds activities that expose young people in Oakland public and charter schools to quality, hands-on arts experiences in a school setting. Organization Project grants support Oakland-based nonprofit organizations producing arts activities for the Oakland public’s benefit. The program supports general operating expenses and promotes the health and stability of Oakland-based nonprofit arts organizations through the Organizational Assistance grant.
Grant Application Review Process
Following the grant application deadline, review panels comprised of Bay Area professional artists and arts administrators combed through 171 eligible applications to prepare for public review panels held in June 2019. In July 2019, the panels’ rankings were forwarded to the Funding Advisory Committee (FAC) which was charged with the allocation of funds. The FAC recommended 91 grants in this round to support the arts and cultural activities in the local community and public schools.
Funding for the Cultural Funding Program’s grants comes from General Purpose Fund allocation as outlined in the City’s FY 2019-21 Biennial Budget and voter-approved Measure C, which added a Transient Occupancy Tax surcharge.
For details on individual grant recipients, download the PDF document posted on this page.
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About the Cultural Affairs Division
The Cultural Affairs Division is housed in the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Department. The division includes the City’s cultural funding program, which provides approximately $1 million in grants to support the arts in Oakland; the public art program, which has more than $1 million in funds currently dedicated for public art installations across Oakland and staff working on special events, film production permitting and a walking tours program.