Grants for The Arts Application Workshop: FY24 General Operating Support

Video transcript

Amy Chou, Senior Program Officer: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Grants for the Arts' FY 24 General Operating Support program overview and updates. We're going to start off with the land acknowledgment with our director Vallie Brown.

Vallie Brown, Director: I just would like to welcome everyone to our new application for Grants for the Arts new application for FY24. A lot of things have changed, and I'm really happy that you're here.

We're going to first start with our land acknowledgment. We'd like to acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone people, who are the traditional custodians of this land. We pay our respects to the Ramaytush Ohlone elders, past, present, and future, who call this place, the land that Grants for the Arts sits upon, their home. We are proud to continue their tradition of coming together and growing as a community. We thank the Ramaytush Ohlone community for their stewardship and support, and we look forward to strengthening our ties as we continue our relationship of mutual respect and understanding.

Nuts and Bolts (Contacts and FAQ links)

Amy: Please ask questions in the Q&A box and we will review them together at the end of the presentation.

If you have questions specific to your organization, please reach out to our program team directly at: This is a new email address. We created a new one specifically for the program team.

The slide deck and the recording of this workshop will be added to our website by Monday, April 10, 2023.

Our FAQ page can also be found on our website.

Online Application Workshops

Sarah Simon, Program Officer: This is the first of 3 application workshops that we'll be hosting over the course of the application period this year. We are requiring all applicants to attend since we'll be going over important updates and tips and tricks for this year's application.

If a member of your team cannot attend or if you'd like to refer back to anything discussed today, a recording of this workshop along with this slide deck will be available on our website starting Monday, April 10th.

Technical Assistance Sessions

And then we're also holding technical assistance sessions to troubleshoot technical issues in FormAssembly, which is the platform for submitting your online application. If you'd like some 1 on 1 or small group consultation on the online application form, please join us. Registration is required, so head to the meetings section of our website to register please.

Workshop Agenda and Introdcutions

Amy: Here's a quick overview of today's agenda. First, we'll go over program overview and updates, then we'll go over the application and scoring. My lovely colleague Tabitha will go over documentation needs, and lastly, as mentioned, we will have a Q&A session. Now Vallie is going to introduce the team.

Vallie: Thanks, Amy. Once again I'm Vallie Brown. I'm the director of Grants for the Arts, and my pronouns are she/her. I'm going to actually let each of the team members introduce themselves so you have a voice and a face that you can put together when you're actually reaching out to us. I'm going to send it over to Tabitha.

Tabitha: Thank you Vallie. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Tabitha Tapia. I am the Senior Finance and Operations Manager with Grants for the Arts, and my pronouns are she/her.

Amy: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Amy Chou. I'm the Senior Program Officer, and my pronouns are she/her.

Leah Zhu, Finance Manager: Hi, everyone. I'm Leah Zhu. I'm a Finance Manager on the team. My pronouns are she/her.

Sarah: Hello, I'm Sarah Simon. I'm a Program Officer on the team. My pronouns are she/her. I'll go ahead and introduce Demi Vera, our SF Willie Brown fellow. Their pronouns are they/them.

Timeline of Grant Cycle

Alright I am going to give a quick overview of the grant cycle timeline for fiscal year 24.

We are at the beginning of the RFP posting period, which will close on Monday, May 15 at 5 PM sharp.

From there GFTA will spend the next 2 to 3 months scoring the many applications that we receive.

Then we'll make grant announcements in August of 2023. At that point, we will provide your intake form and compliance documentation, which will be due in September.

Then finally, we'll begin releasing funds in November.

Who and What We Fund

Vallie: At Grants for the Arts, our mission is to promote the diverse and unique communities of San Francisco by supporting arts and culture through equitable fund grantmaking.

Sarah: So what does GFTA actually support? We offer unrestricted general operating support grants to arts and cultural nonprofits that are physically based in San Francisco and have as their primary purpose the public performance or display of art, the public presentation of parades or festivals, GFTA grantee services, or arts re-granting services in San Francisco.

Vallie: This grant cycle is the same as the last as in what types of general operating support we fund. It's arts programming, parades and festivals, capacity building and re-granting. We renamed that, it used to be granting and re-granting but now it's capacity building and re-granting. So you will choose one of those as you go through this application.

One of the things that we have changed this year is that we will only be funding in-person activities and events in San Francisco. So that means that a lot of organizations have absolutely amazing online events, and we really applaud you, I know a lot of you made that pivot during the pandemic. But now we're really changing our priorities at Grants of the Arts and what we fund, so we are only funding in-person events and activities in San Francisco and your funding will reflect that. Even if you travel and you do other things, we understand that, but we will be funding only in-person events and activities in San Francisco.

This particular application, we heard feedback from you from the last one, so we've tried to simplify it, we've tried to actually make the questions much more direct. As Amy goes through the questions today, we're going to give you some examples of what we are talking about, because I think I always do well with that when I hear examples it kind of gets my brain going.

So this year also the criteria has changed. I think any of you that have been on the RFP have noticed. It's the percentages that changed. We still have the same priorities that the City is pushing forward, which is economic impact, community engagement and impact, and then operational and fiscal accountability. But what you probably have already seen on the RFP is the percentage of your score is actually changing. Last year, it was 40 percent, 40 percent, and 20 percent. This year economic impact went up to 50 percent, and then community engagement and impact is 35 percent, and fiscal accountability is 15 percent. So this is a real switch.

Then also this year, to receive Grants for the Arts funding, an applicant must score a 75 or above. You need a 75 to 100 to even qualify for funding this year, and like I said, we're really narrowing our focus on activities, events, and performances in San Francisco. One of the things I've been talking about is, we really need to get people coming back to the city, whether that's tourism or people from the Bay Area. We also have to get San Franciscans to unplug ourselves from Netflix, take our sweatpants off, put on some real pants, and get out and go to events, go to performances, because this is really going to help San Francisco.

Especially economically, because when you go out to these types of arts events and festivals, most people go out and have to buy other things. They buy dinner, drinks, whatever. This is how we're going to come back as a city. We've talked a lot about arts and culture really being an economic impact on our way back from the pandemic, and now we're narrowing that and asking all of you, because we're all in this together, to focus your festivals and your activities and events in San Francisco.

Finding the Application

Sarah: Now we are entering into the application and scoring section. This is where you get to showcase your amazing programming and the impact that you'll have on our diverse communities and the city at large. To echo Vallie, our team has been working hard to develop a more equitable grant application process, and for past participants I hope you notice our evolution and continue to work with us to evolve in the community.

First thing brass tax, where is the application? If you go to our website at, on the main page there's a little white box with some red text. Click on the red text, and that'll take you to the request for proposals or RFP overview page. This is what the RFP overview page looks like.

We've provided a number of resources that we hope will make applying easier for you. First, where this blue arrow is pointing, you can download and save a copy of the RFP here, which I recommend you do first if you haven't already. Then under resources, we're also providing a direct link to the online application, which is hosted on a platform called FormAssembly. We're also providing a Word document version of the application as a tool for you to draft answers, and then by this Monday, April 10, we'll have the deck and recording of this workshop for reference. You can also find a link to the online application on page 4 of the RFP.

An important note, you are able to save your progress on the online application, but we strongly recommend reading the RFP in its entirety and answering the application questions in the Word document, gathering all supplemental documentation, doing all of that before you start the online application. Then once you're ready, carve out about 90 minutes to copy and paste your responses and upload the documents.

Saving the Application

To quickly show you how to save your progress in the online application. This is what the first page of the online form looks like. In both the top right corner and at the bottom of the page, there's a check box you can click that will allow you to create an account and save your progress.

Application Break Down: Whats Is and Isn't Scored?

Amy: Now that you've gotten a copy of the RFP, what's in it? I want to specifically distinguish 2 parts.

You have pages 1 through 10, which is just gathering general information and it is not scored, as indicated in the RFP. However you must provide the requested information to be eligible.

Another thing I want to note is that the amount requested is also not scored. We had a couple of questions regarding that in the past.

The second part is the scored section, and that's pages one 11 through 25. Those are the application questions. 

So now we're at the heart of the application, the application questions themselves. Each application may have a total score of up to 100 points. An application must score a minimum of 75 points in order to be eligible for a grant award.

There are 2 actually 3 criteria categories that will be scored, which are aligned to the City's current priorities.

The first one is economic impact, which is the utilization of the arts and culture to drive economic recovery and activation in San Francisco. You can score up to 50 points here.

The second criterion is community engagement and impact ,which is the utilization of the arts and culture to deliberately improve San Francisco through deep engagement and integration with communities to understand needs and cultivate lasting, equitable change. You can score up to 35 points here.

Lastly, operational and fiscal accountability is the organization's ability to deliver on arts and cultural programming and or services in San Francisco with a track record of responsible operational and fiscal management. You can score up to 15 points here.

How to Answer Questions

There is a word limit for the short answer questions just like last year. We heard you all so we did slightly increase the word count. It is again recommended that applicants include bullet point responses rather than write in paragraph format. If bullet points aren't pasting over in the online application for whatever reason you may also use a dash or just press enter.

Unscored Questions

Section 1C Population Served is on pages 12 through 14 in the RFP. This section is unscored, and it includes drop down lists. Some of the lists will allow you to select more than 1 option. In any of these questions, if you serve a general population, ethnicity, neighborhood, and/or district, please select the general option in the drop down list. Do not select every single option listed. To select more than one option, we have instructions on how to do so for PC and Mac users. Here as you can see this is a screenshot of the online application, and it indicates how you can do that.

Scored Question Breakdown: Economic Impact

In the next few slides Sarah and I will review each question in the scored section. For each question we will review 1) the application question itself, 2) the associated scoring criteria, and 3) provide an example.

Before we dive into the questions, I want to note that organizations applying for Capacity Building and Re-granting have a separate set of questions that allow you to include virtual programming because of the nature of your work. Again this does not apply to organizations applying for Arts Programming or Parades and Festivals.

Starting with question number 1, you notice the formatting is different in the RFP from the online application. So here on the left hand side right here in the green, that's what you'll see in the RFP. And then on the right hand side is what you'll see in the online application. It looks a little different I know but not to worry. The only difference is that in the online application, these questions in the table format are listed. Sarah and I decided on a table format to better guide you all towards providing both the qualitative and quantitative information that we're seeking.

Alright so back to the question itself. For question number 1, we ask applicants for FY23 how many in-person activities or events did you have or will have had between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. Of these activities or events, how many were or will be in-person in San Francisco. Please use the fields to provide information for up to 5 of your most well attended in-person San Francisco based activities or events that occurred or will occur between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.

So the criteria for question number 1 is the applicant demonstrates economic investment in San Francisco through robust, diverse programming and evidence of well-attended events given the organization's budget size and grant type. I want to note please please please pay attention to each criteria as some questions are weighted more than others. For example on question number 1, you can score up to 15 points, while others you may score up to 5.

I want to provide an example for you all right now. Let's say one of your most well-attended events is your holiday program. Your holiday program travels throughout the Bay Area totaling 10 performances. Three out of 10 of these performances are in San Francisco. For your 3 San Francisco performances, please include the dates, total number of attendees for the three performances in San Francisco, the venue, the venue's neighborhood, and the venue capacity.

if you're an intermediary organization applying for Capacity Building, GFTA wants to know how many SF organizations or SF residents are you serving. Please make sure to track these numbers if you aren't already doing so. If you're an organization who's re-granting to artists to paint murals in let's just say Chinatown, how many of those artists are in San Francisco? We need to know those numbers.

So I just want to again emphasize please only list programming in San Francisco. Do not include other Bay Area or out of San Francisco programming as it will not be scored.

Alright question number 2, are there additional partnerships, collaborations, or strategies you're employing in order to economically activate the neighborhood or neighborhoods in which your in-person activities are taking place? Please share specific examples from activities between July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. The criteria is the applicant demonstrates strong partnerships, collaborations, or strategies to economically activate the neighborhood or neighborhoods where the organization's in-person activities occur.

I want to give you an example of a partnership or a collaboration I saw that I attended personally. I went to a show and at the end of the performance, the Executive Director encouraged the audience to grab dinner and drinks in the neighborhood. The ED invited the audience to meet some of the cast members at the bar across the street. It was their last show of the night. This arts organization also collaborated with the local bar to offer a signature cocktail in celebration of their show. So I do want to say this is an above and beyond example, and if you do not have the bandwidth, and we understand if you don't, if you're a smaller organization, we ultimately want to know what are some ways you are encouraging your attendees to economically reinvest in San Francisco's small businesses and or nearby cultural districts.

Alright question number 3, what have your organization's efforts been in hiring San Francisco residents between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023? Please share the makeup of your paid full-time and part-time staff members including employees (those who are receiving W-2s for example), contractors (those receiving 1099s), and artists. The criteria is the applicant demonstrates regular efforts to hire San Francisco residents given the organization's number of employees, income, and contractors budget size, and grant type.

So GFTA wants you to know that we value organizations that make an intentional effort to hire San Francisco residents. We also understand it can be difficult but we also want to understand that you work with folks in other areas. We understand that you work with folks in other areas, but this question really focuses on who you hire in San Francisco and what efforts are you making to do that.

Alright question number 4, what are your marketing and promotional efforts for your organization to attract attendance of SF residents and out of town visitors? For each marketing effort used, please list strategies, tools, and/or specific examples of successful outreach and engagement. There's a 150 word limit here in your marketing and promotional efforts. Do you promote San Francisco commercial corridors near your FY 23 activities, events? GFTA defines commercial corridors as streets, avenues, parkways, and boulevards associated with commerce and having a primarily commercial character.

So the criteria for question number 4 is the applicant 1) employs marketing and promotional efforts, including marketing emails, social media, advertisement, partnership, broadcast, up-to-date website press coverage, 2) demonstrates strategies, tools, and/or specific examples of successful outreach, 3) employs marketing and promotional efforts supporting San Francisco commercial corridors near your FY 23 activities or events.

So I'll give you an example for question 4A. For this question providing numbers is very helpful so if you have let's just say 5,000 followers on Instagram, please name it. How many people are on your mailing list? Do you have an up-to-date website with your program schedule? I do want to note that our readers do check for that. Are you tracking the number of clicks to your website. If so please provide those numbers. We encourage organizations to use free resources to see website clicks and how it can influence your marketing and promotional efforts.

An example for question 4B, let's say an organization is hosting an event at 1111 O'Farrell and also promotes a few local small businesses in Japan Town that's only a few blocks away that will be open after the show. And they do this through their Instagram, their website, their email list, and even an announcement at the end of the show.

Alright now we go into Community engagement, and I'm going to hand it over to Sarah.

Community Engagement Questions

Here is question 5. Please use the fields below to provide information for up to 5 in-person activities in San Francisco that best represent your mission, vision, or values. Please only include activities that occurred or will occur during the City's fiscal year, again that's July 1st 2022 through June 30th 2023.

Again just a note that Capacity building and Re-granting applicants may include virtual activities focused on San Francisco audiences. Again I think it's helpful to review the criteria first so I'll read that out loud. The applicant's activities or events demonstrate alignment with their mission, vision, or values, measurable impact, and value to people and neighborhoods of San Francisco, and finally efforts to reach low-income participants.

I'll read an example Mission and then provide an example answer for that hypothetical organization. So example mission is org X both champions and challenges the art of our time by fostering artists who innovate, explore, and risk. We move within and beyond our four walls to provide opportunities for diverse publics to engage deeply with contemporary arts. In doing so we further dialogue and participation between and among artists and those audiences

So one of the activities this organization might provide if they offer it is a free event featuring emerging contemporary artists and cater to families that takes place in Bayview Hunter's points which as we know is a neighborhood that is culturally rich but has limited access to arts programming. An activity like this would reflect the organization's mission. This activity has a positive impact on San Francisco communities and it brings programming to a historically underserved neighborhood.

I want to note that if you only produce one or two events a year this is the case for a lot of our parades and festivals, you can break out sub-programs including workshops or capacity building within those events.

Alright moving on to question 6. Please use the fields below to provide information for up to five in-person activities in San Francisco that best represent your engagement with historically underserved people and neighborhoods. Please only include activities that occurred or will occur during the City's current fiscal year. Again capacity building and re-granting applicants may include virtual activities focused on San Francisco audiences but we would like parades festivals and arts programming applicants to please only include in-person programming in San Francisco.

The criteria for this question is the applicants activities specifically demonstrate one being deeply embedded in and reflective of historically underserved people and neighborhoods in San Francisco and two a significant effort to offer free or discounted tickets or fees to historically underserved people in neighborhoods in San Francisco. This is noted in our RFP but I'll also state here that GFTA defines historically underserved people and neighborhoods as a population whether identified by ethnicity, race, minority factors, culture, or place of origin with a shortage of or obstacle to services. As an example answer an organization might list trainings or fellowship programs that list and promote LGBTQIA artists. That's a population that they serve, and if you're co-creating with historically underserved communities or if you're featuring voices or stories from these communities in your programming, we want to know.

Question 7 is a two-part part question. So 7A is tell us about the space your organization uses most. If you own or lease your own space or venue in San Francisco, do you offer rental space or subleases to other San Francisco-based arts organizations? Please list the organizations that you offered rental space or subleases to during the City's current fiscal year.

7B please use the fields below to provide information about up to six San Francisco community partnerships or collaborations. The criteria for this question is the applicant 1) has an array of San Francisco community partnerships including but not limited to organizations, businesses, neighborhood or merchant associations, an SFUSD school or schools, 2) the depth and duration of these partnerships reflects a commitment to collaboration in San Francisco, and 3) they offer rental space or subleases at a discounted rate if they own or lease their own space or venue in San Francisco.

So an example answer to 7A even San Francisco's shortage of artists spaces if you own or lease a physical space we just want to understand whether there are opportunities for other organizations to use it particularly at a discounted rate.

An example answer for question 7B, please provide information for any partnerships you have significant relationships with. So a specific example we've heard is an organization that partners with a local hotel to provide discounted tickets to hotel guests while the hotel provides this kind of room rates for visiting artists, note that. If you partner with SFUSD schools you don't need to list individual schools but can instead just provide the number of schools that you partner with.

Question 8, how do your organizations, programs, or services contribute to San Francisco's dynamic artistic and cultural diversity? Because the 200 word limit, criteria the applicant contributes to San Francisco's dynamic artistic and cultural diversity through the values, narratives, standards, aesthetics, or mechanics of its programs or services.

This is your opportunity to provide a narrative around your values to the arts and culture of San Francisco. We recommend that you speak directly to the specific things mentioned in the criteria. For example say you have a community-centric process around program development working with this is all hypothetical immigrant families to develop a dance piece about the concept of home. Here's where you can briefly describe that process and who it is benefiting. This is also a good place to add anything you feel may have been left out of previous answers.

While we always prefer bullet point answers, we also understand that a narrative answer may be better suited to this question.

Operational and Fiscal Accountability Questions

Question number 9 describe who is engaged in fiscal oversight and reporting and the procedures in place for monitoring and improving the organization's finances. There's a 200 word limit here. The criteria is the applicant demonstrates dedicated experienced staff that handles the day-to-day financial activities and oversight given the organization's budget size. Applicants explanation shows a clear and detailed procedure for monitoring and improving finances.

Questions to consider when you're answering:

  • What are your long-standing policies, procedures, and best practices? For example do you begin each fiscal year with specific percentage of the budget committed? If so, bullet point it.
  • Do you have a certain percentage of your program budget committed before the start of a new fiscal year? If so, bullet point it.
  • Do you have a large revenue generating event that secures a percentage of the next fiscal year's budget? If so, bullet point it.
  • Who is involved in fiscal oversight and reporting and what are their experiences?
  • Does your board raise a certain percentage of the budget? If so, bullet point it.
  • How often are finances reviewed by your accountant?
  • How often is it monitored by your executive director or artistic director?
  • How do you anticipate challenges and adjust? 
  • Do you maintain a certain percentage of cash flow?
  • Do you build reserves and or do you have a fee for service model? If so, again bullet point all of this.

Alright our last but not least question, question 10. Please complete your total revenue from your most recent completed fiscal year and then we'll have a space for a breakdown. The criteria is the applicant demonstrates a well-distributed and diversified revenue stream. Diversified revenue stream can include private foundations, government grants, corporate sponsorships, individual donors, earned income, etc.

Ideally in this answer we'd see revenue across multiple sources. We'll be looking at percentages of each revenue source. Make sure the revenue numbers add up to your total revenue line, and if you don't have revenue from one or any of these sources, you can just click zero.

That wraps up our overview of all of the questions. I hope that was clear and helpful and hopefully it didn't go too fast or too slow.

After you've completed the application, a copy of your answers will pop up on the screen and at the top it will give you options to confirm before it submits the application and to print. I recommend to print and save or save a PDF of your completed application. This is the only opportunity to save or print a copy online. 

And then we do have an FAQ page on our website. I encourage everyone to visit it regularly. We've created a list of questions we've received and we'll continue to update it as we receive more.

Now I will pass it off to Tabitha to go over documentation.

Supplemental Documentation

Thank you, Sarah. Welcome, everyone. Thank you for joining us this afternoon.

I wanted to go over the supplemental documentation requirements that you can find on pages 24 and 25 of the RFP. Some important notes are that the attachments listed on these pages are required. The attachments should be in the formats listed here in and within the RFP. Each attachment must be less than 20 megabytes before uploading. FormAssembly will not be allow you to submit the application if the uploads are any larger than 20 megabytes.

Required documentation to submit: your general operating a general operating budget and proof of San Francisco corporate address.

Applicants need to provide the general operating budget for your organization's most recent completed fiscal year — not for the fiscal year in which you are currently operating. If there is a fiscal sponsor involved with this application, provide the budget for the organization being sponsored. Do not provide the budget for the fiscal sponsor.

Applicants need to provide proof of San Francisco corporate address for their organization. If there is a fiscal sponsor, provide proof of address for the organization being sponsored. This can be in the form of a utility bill, phone bill, or internet bill, or bank statement, renters agreement or mortgage documentation. This document should be no more than three months old and must include the applicant's name.

There are a couple more requirements for new applicants and fiscal sponsors. Applicants and fiscal sponsors that are new to GFTA, meaning they've never received an award from GFTA ever in the past, they they need to provide a list of activities and or events that the organization has implemented or hosted for each of the last three consecutive years.

Fiscal sponsor requirements are that the fiscal sponsors must provide a letter signed by the Executive Director of the fiscal sponsor's organization that confirms there is an agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the organization being sponsored.

This workshop and the PowerPoint will be available on our website by Monday April 10.

Our email address is Please direct your emails only to this address.