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Investing in the Artist Grant: art organizations

Investing in the Artist grants distribute small but impactful funds to arts organizations/cooperatives, serving as a catalyst to further the organization’s work while living and creating in Santa Ana, resulting in a more vibrant local art scene. With the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent variants, the City of Santa Ana Arts & Culture Office will direct funds in the amount of $300,000 from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to meet the emergency needs of organizations and individuals in order to help sustain and grow the economic development in Santa Ana. The City supports special events, arts & cultural programming, marketing & tourism, and nonprofit essentials such as materials, supplies, special event production, and community engagement.

La cultura cura / art heals

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector, including restrictions on gatherings, changes in consumer behavior, and severe unemployment. While employment conditions have improved for artists and creative workers, the arts are recovering slower than other industries, and COVID continues to disrupt in-person programming. Yet the arts has played a pivotal role in helping the nation heal—physically, mentally, and emotionally—from this pandemic, or “la cultura cura.” In that spirit, the City of Santa Ana will support innovative art projects and/or arts-based programs that address health, healing, and recovery experienced by survivors of this modern pandemic.

To recognize the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and encourage accessibility for everyone, projects must be displayed or held in an open public area that is safer to gather, including the following spaces:

Contact Parks & Recreation and Downtown Liaison for availability of the use of their respective space before submitting your proposal:

Parks & Recreation Agency Recreation and Community Services


Community Development Agency Downtown Liaison



The Arts & Culture Commission is seeking to award grants in the amount of up to $20,000 for arts organizations/cooperatives that will enrich and invigorate the Santa Ana arts and culture landscape and will be distributed in two payments.

The grant period will be for 12 months and will require an interim and final report of outcomes achieved, including an itemized budget with documentation such as receipts. The first payment will be disbursed at the commencement of the grant period, and the second payment will be disbursed 30 days after the successful completion of the final report. All grantees are required to maintain financial records to verify compliance. If you are selected for an audit, you must have and submit proof of expenses for review by grants staff upon request.

Only activities and costs consistent with the grant application or proposal approved by the Arts Commission will be funded. If changes in the awarded project are necessary, grantees must contact Gabriela Cramer at (714) 647-5385 or GCramer@santa-ana.org.

If the proposed project has not been completed by end of the grant cycle, awarded funds to the organization will need to be returned to the City, and the applicant(s) will be ineligible to reapply for the following two years.

Conflict of interest

The Arts & Culture Commission members are actively involved in the arts professionally and/or personally. The Commission desires to avoid situations which may compromise, or appear to compromise, members’ objectivity while not preventing their continuing involvement in the arts, or in projects supported by the Commission and City. If the Commission member has a professional, fiduciary, and/or personal relationship with an applicant, the Commission member must notify the Commission of the relationship before the panel meeting or review of the applicant. The Commission member must also excuse him/herself from the room during the discussion of the applicant, and may not discuss the application with any other member of the Commission prior to, during, or after discussion of the application.

Eligibility criteria

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations/cooperatives that meet the following criteria are welcome to apply:

  • Organizations with arts, culture, design, or creative innovation focus.
  • Organization must be based in Santa Ana and/or serve Santa Ana communities.
  • Projects can be small in scope and do not need to serve large numbers of people as long as they positively impact the organization’s purpose or mission.
  • A project may be a part of an applicant’s regular season or activities. Organizations that undertake a single short-term project in a year—a dance festival, for example—could apply for support for that event or they could identify certain components of their operations, such as securing rehearsal space, marketing activities, paying artists, etc., as their project.
  • A representative from the organization must attend one Information Session.
  • Applicants may not apply for consecutive grant cycles for the same project.
  • Only one application per project will be accepted. Organizations may not apply separately for the same project.

Organizations/Cooperatives will be required to obtain/demonstrate the following prior to an award

  • Current City of Santa Ana business license or city approval for business operation (for cooperatives).
  • Current General Liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 naming the City of Santa Ana as Additional Insured on a primary and non-contributory basis.
  • Active 501(c)3 nonprofit status and good standing with IRS or registered as an eligible cooperative with the City of Santa Ana.

Cooperatives are defined as

  • A business entity that is owned and controlled by the people who work in it. Worker cooperatives thrive in many industries and regions.
  • In a worker cooperative, decisions are made democratically, by the people who do the work (usually following the principle of "one worker, one vote") instead of by one person or group people that holds all the power.
  • Cooperatives are a specific legal definition in which the workers are defined as members and owners of the cooperative. These member-owners are entitled to a vote, and to a share of the profits of the business (called patronage).

Online resources available for cooperatives

More information on worker cooperatives

Starting up a worker cooperative

Conversion of existing business to a worker cooperative structure

Legal resources for worker cooperatives

Technical assistance for worker cooperatives

Ineligible projects (what we don't fund)

  • Administrative and operational expenses
  • Scholarly research, tuition, or academic expenses.
  • Projects held, performed, or exhibited outside of the City of Santa Ana.
  • Programs that are not accessible to the public.
  • Funds going directly into trusts, endowments, or cash reserves.
  • Projects with religious purposes that serve to proselytize.

Funding priorities

  • Activating geographical areas in Santa Ana underserved by the arts
  • Collaborations/partnerships among different entities

Selection process

Applicants will be reviewed and scored by a grant peer review panel made up of artists, arts and nonprofit professionals, and others with knowledge and professional qualifications in the arts and with familiarity of Orange County’s arts sector. Grant review panels will reflect the diversity of the region and the various professional groups encompassed by the arts sectors such as practitioners, administrators, board members, and educators. As a public agency, all information submitted to the Arts Commission in conjunction with a grant application becomes public record at the time the application is submitted. Applications will be reviewed and scored by a peer panel according to the following criteria.


  • Review panel may approve an amount that is less than what the applicant requested. It is encouraged that applicant find other funding sources for their project.
  • Approval of application does not imply that your dates and locations listed are approved as well. Contact appropriate entity to reserve the location and dates.
  • If doing a public art installation or public program, site must be selected prior to submission. Additionally, a letter from the property owner or facility must be included with your application.

Evaluation criteria

Organization applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Project Merit & Theme Relevance – 40%
  • Organizational Readiness/Fiscal Responsibility – 25%
  • Potential Community Impact – 25%
  • Organization Need – 10%
  • Non-Compliance with Grant Requirements from Previous Cycle – (-5%)

Criterion 1

A project with exceptional Artistic Merit & Theme Relevance engages qualified and diverse arts or cultural professionals; provides arts experiences that expose participants to new perspectives; provides opportunities for engagement in the creative process; demonstrates cross-sector understanding, both supporting the arts and advancing community priorities; and provide clear examples of how the theme of “Celebrating the City of Santa Ana’s History and Diversity” is incorporated into the project.

Criterion 2

An organization with exceptional Organizational Readiness/Fiscal Responsibility recruits and retains an engaged, diverse, and qualified board, staff, contractors, and/or volunteers and has an accumulated deficit of less than 20% of their total operational expenses for two or more years. Competitive applications will address all application questions and provide complete information.

Criterion 3

A project with exceptional Community Impact will be able to make a positive difference for Santa Ana residents, neighborhoods, and communities by creating leverage and visibility for these communities to receive greater resources; enhance the quality of life for those in the community; providing pipelines for arts leadership; enhance visitor’s experience of the City; and support economic growth in the City.

Criterion 4

Exceptional demonstration of Organization Needs must clearly relate to the organization’s mission and purpose and how it serves its constituents; supported with evidence such as statistics, expert views, and trends; and directly connect to, and support, the organization’s ability to respond to the need.

Criterion 5

Applicants who were awarded a grant from a previous cycle and were non-compliant with the grant requirements (ex: incomplete projects, missing or incomplete reports, etc.), will have 5 percentage points (5%) deducted from their overall score.

Submission requirements

Applications must contain the following documents to be considered for funding:

  1. Application Cover Sheet (use attached)
  2. Organization Mission and History
  3. List of Key Staff/Board of Directors (Resume/CV if applicable). Limit 2 pages.
  4. Organizational Operational Budget
  5. Narrative for proposed use of funds. Limit 2 pages. Formatting guidelines: Double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman, one inch margins.
  6. Supplemental Questions - Please answer each question separately:
  • Describe any additional City of Santa Ana resources required for your project (permits, public space, licenses etc.) that you are required to obtain.**
  • Is this a new or existing program/project?
  • How will the proposed project be presented or shared with the public? Will the art display, event, or performance be free and accessible to the public?
  • How will your project enrich the quality of life for Santa Ana residents?
  • Describe how will your project stimulate economic development for the City of Santa Ana?
  1. Project Timeline (sample attached)
  2. Line Item Budget (use attached – 2 pages)
  3. At least two (2) signed Letters of Community Support. If letter is in language other than English, please provide English translation.

**If doing a public art installation, site must be selected prior to submission. Additionally, a letter from the property owner must be included with your application.

Submission due date

Applications are due on the Submittable.com website by MONDAY, MAY 9, 2022 at 11:59 PM.

Submit applications here (use Google Chrome): https://cityofsantaana.submittable.com/submit

The online application will prompt you to submit the information directly into the fields and to upload submission materials. The Arts Commission strongly recommends submitting the application at least 5 days prior to the deadline to give ample time to troubleshoot.

For questions please contact Gabriela Cramer at (714) 647-5385, gcramer@santa-ana.org.

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