City, Center for Cultural Innovation Launch Grant Programs for Individual Artists, Arts Nonprofits

$1.425 in CARES Act Funds Available to Support Oakland’s Arts Ecosystem

Oakland, CA – The City of Oakland received $36.9 million in State of California CARES Act funding. Through the Oakland CARES Fund for Artists and Arts Nonprofits, $1.425 million of those funds will go to support individual artists and arts nonprofit organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Oakland CARES Arts Organizational Grant will award grants of up to $20,000 to arts nonprofits, while the Oakland CARES Individual Artist Grant seeks to support individual artists with grants of up to $3,000 each. The application period for both grants opened today (Monday, September 21) at 9 a.m., and ends at 1 p.m. on Friday, October 9, 2020. Online applications in four languages are available at:

“Our vibrant arts and culture community is a vital part of our community and contributes immensely to our collective sense of belonging, which is what makes Oakland a unique and special place,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “We know Oakland artists and arts nonprofits are struggling, and these CARES Act-funded grants offer financial help as we collectively work to help them survive this crisis.”

Individual Artist Grants
Current, full-time Oakland residents who make their primary income as freelancers or employees in the arts sector may apply. Applicants must make the majority (50%+) of their individual income from the arts sector through any combination of sales of art, freelance work, and/or employment. This includes fine artists, including literary, visual, and performing artists; musicians; teaching artists; culture bearers; artist members of collective-based or cooperative creative social enterprises; and specialized artist workers (e.g., lighting or sound designers, fabricators, and the like). Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to approximately 160 individuals.

Nonprofit Organizational Grants
Oakland-based 501(c)3 arts nonprofits; fiscally sponsored arts organizations; or 501(c)3 incorporated cultural land trusts with a primary function of arts and/or culture activities and services may apply. Eligible organizations must have a yearly budget under $2.5 million based on the most recently completed fiscal year that ended before March 1, 2020.

Grant amounts will be based on nonprofit's actual budget size of the most recently completed fiscal year using the following tiers:

  • For budgets up to $999,999, grants will be up to $10,000
  • For budgets of $1 million-$1,499,999, grants will be up to $15,000
  • For budgets of $1.5-$2.5 million, grants will be up to $20,000

The arts nonprofit must not have received more than $20,000 through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program or received a National Endowment for the Arts (CARES) award. Additionally, applicants, and employees or board members of applicant organizations, who have a conflict of interest (family or financial relationships) with the boards, staff, or directors of CCI or of City of Oakland’s elected officials and their employees are ineligible.

Both Grant Programs
Applicants for both grants will be asked to provide a detailed explanation of financial losses or incurred expenses due to COVID-19. Notifications to grant recipients are anticipated on Friday, October 30, 2020.

The grants will help prevent displacement among artists and closures of arts nonprofits. Artists and public-benefiting arts organizations are the backbone of the City’s diversity and vibrancy of cultural identity and expression. Distribution of the CARES Act grants for the arts is through a partnership between the Economic & Workforce Development Department’s Cultural Affairs Division and the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), a trusted intermediary focused on the economic security of people in the arts.

“Artists, culture workers, and arts nonprofits need our support but are all too often overlooked. We are delighted to partner with the City of Oakland, with the knowledge that they understand how important the arts are to the civic life of communities,” said Laura Poppiti, Center for Cultural Innovation’s Grants Program Director.

To assist applicants, FAQs have been posted at: Support for technical questions is also available. English-speaking applicants are asked to email with the subject line “Oakland CARES Fund Tech Support” and provide your full name and telephone number for assistance. For those completing applications in Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), or Vietnamese, please email or call (510) 238-4949.

The Oakland CARES Fund for Artists and Arts Nonprofits will distribute support to reflect the cultural and geographic diversity of the city of Oakland – including those in historically underserved communities that are especially vulnerable financially due to this economic crisis.

Although not factors in grant decisions, we strongly encourage the following with financial needs to apply: individual applicants of, or organizations that primarily serve, historically marginalized communities, which may include, but are not limited to, African and African American, Arab, Asian and Asian American, Latinx, Middle Eastern, Native American and Indigenous, Pacific Islander; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Transgender, and Gender-Variant people; people with disabilities; women; and those who are low-income, have high debts, have difficulty obtaining or retaining sources of income, or live in immigrant and refugee communities.

This is the latest CARES Act-funded grant program launched by the City of Oakland. Grant programs for low-income renter and homeowner relief and an RFQ to fund support for low- and moderate-income renters and homeowners were announced earlier this month. Learn more about the $36.9 million in CARES Act Funding at:

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Posted: September 21st, 2020 9:58 AM

Last Updated: September 21st, 2020 1:19 PM

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