Bookmark and Share

Performing Arts Program Selection Criteria

Grantseekers are often interested in understanding the way we determine whether to provide funding. These are the criteria we use and the questions we ask when making our funding decisions:

Strategic alignment with portfolio. What unique position does the organization hold within the Bay Area performing arts community? Is there a clear alignment with the Performing Arts Program’s strategies? Each grantee is asked to complete a strategic plan, as well as a proposal narrative and a chart that identifies how the organization measures success. Are these three documents closely aligned with each other? How does this organization complement our current grants portfolio? Does it diversify the portfolio by aesthetic/discipline, audiences served, or geography?

Quality artistic product. What programs and services does the organization offer, and how meaningful and relevant is its work to its target population(s)? Does the organization display high artistic quality? We determine this by attending performances, reading reviews, consulting with experts, and by reviewing California Cultural Data Project materials and the organization’s website. Do the organization and its artists occupy a distinctive niche relative to its peers? Can it present evidence of technical mastery, originality, innovation, and inspiration? If applicable, what is the quality of its arts education, community outreach, and lifelong learning programs?

Participation and engagement. What are the organization’s historic and current audience demographics and participation trends? Who are its target audiences, and how does it reach them? How are audiences engaged, and does the community understand and support the organization? What factors contribute to accessibility (for example, location, pricing, online presence, or family programming)? Does the organization engage in partnerships that benefit the community?

Leadership. Does the organization have an ambitious yet viable strategic plan with a clear mission, artistic vision, and goals? What are the roles, experience, and reputation of its leadership, including the board, administrative staff, artistic staff, and volunteers? Are these leaders reflective of the organization’s diverse community and target audiences? How does the organization evaluate its programs and assess its leadership? Does it invest in learning and the professional development of its staff?

Fiscal responsibility. What is the historic and current financial health of the organization as reflected in its balance sheet (including unrestricted net assets, liabilities and debt, cash reserves, and endowment) and income statement (including earned and contributed revenues, artistic and administrative expenses, and operating surpluses)? Are financial projections realistic given a fluctuating economy? Does the organization have a history of running deficits?

The Program accepts Letters of Inquiry for its Continuity and Engagement grantmaking at this time. For more information, click here. We encourage Bay Area performing arts grantseekers to explore funding opportunities with our Regranting Partners that provide support for arts organizations and individual artists.