You will find here our eligibility guidelines, funding criteria and limitations, and grant amounts. Please read this first to ensure that your organization is an eligible applicant. Please note that simply meeting the minimum criteria does not guarantee funding.


The mission of Grants for
the Arts is to promote the
City by supporting the arts.


Eligibility Criteria


Performing, Visual, Literary and Media Arts Organizations

In order to qualify for funding, an applicant in this category must:

  • have as a primary purpose the public performance or display of art works. The applicant's mission must be clearly focused on develping, producing, and/or presenting arts activities in San Francisco.

  • have a 501(c)(3) non-profit status. (In some cases, it may be acceptable to apply using a valid fiscal sponsor.)

  • not be the primary responsibility of a government agency.

  • be governed by a legally constituted, fiscally responsible board of directors.

  • be based in and be identified with the City and County of San Francisco for at least three full years at the time of application. The organization must be housed in San Francisco with its corporate address in the City.

  • produce an annual dependable San Francisco season of activities, for the general public, including visitors. This annual season should include at least one self- or co-produced San Francisco activity.

  • plan and publicize public programming to attract visitors to San Francisco.

  • reach an audience appropriate to the activity, and produce accurate records of patronage (by budget, discipline, activities or programs).

  • produce consistently professional quality work.

  • Be in good standing on previous and/or current GFTA grants and with other City departments.

  • demonstrate financial health, evidenced by:

    • receiving outside sources of funding.

    • managing a budget size and percentage of earned revenue appropriate to the activity.

    • having a minimum budget of at least $35,000.

    • not carrying an unreasonable accumulated debt.

    • not being overly dependent on any one source of contributed income.

  • demonstrate sound administration and fiscal management by:

    • creating an organizational structure (staff, volunteers, artists, board) appropriate to the size and nature of the organization.

    • having an active board of directors/advisory board.

    • preparing and submitting yearly financial statements.

    • having a reasonable plan to retire debt—if applicable.

Once funded, an organization must:

    • comply with the City of San Francisco’s insurance and business tax requirements.

    • comply with provisions of Chapter 12B of the San Francisco Administrative Code which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, creed, height, weight, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS-related condition (AIDS/ARC).

    • comply with the provisions of Chapter 12L of the San Francisco Administrative Code which requires grantees receiving more than $250,000 in City or City-administered funds to hold open board meetings, make financial records available to the public, and make good faith efforts to promote community membership in its Board of Directors.


Annual Celebrations and Parades

In order to qualify for funding, an applicant in this category must:

  • have a valid 501(c)(3) non-profit status or use a fiscal sponsor.

  • not be the primary responsibility of a government agency.

  • be governed by a legally constituted, fiscally responsible board of directors and have an active advisory board or working committee which takes programmatic responsibility for the event.

  • broadly celebrate and preserve the cultural identity and/or traditional activities of the City’s various populations, not a specific independence day, national commemoration day, specific neighborhood or City district.

  • have a significant performance or art component.

  • reside in and be identified with the City and County of San Francisco.

  • be supported by and have active participation from a substantial segment of the community.

  • professionally produce a high-quality San Francisco event for at least three years.

  • plan and publicize public event(s) to attract visitors to San Francisco.

  • reach an audience appropriate to the activity and produce accurate records of patronage.

  • demonstrate financial health, evidenced by:

    • receiving outside sources of funding.

    • managing a budget size and percentage of earned revenue appropriate to the activity.

    • having a minimum annual budget of at least $35,000.

    • not carrying an unreasonable accumulated debt.

    • not being overly dependent on any one source of contributed income.

  • demonstrate sound administration and fiscal management by:

    • having an active advisory board or working committee that takes programmatic responsibility for event.

    • maintaining a budget and staff appropriate to the activity.

    • preparing and submitting yearly financial statements.

    • having a reasonable plan to retire debt—if applicable.

Once funded, an organization must:

  • comply with provisions of Chapter 12B of the San Francisco Administrative Code which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of or because of race, color, creed, height, weight, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS-related condition (AIDS/ARC).

  • comply with the provisions of Chapter 12L of the San Francisco Administrative Code which requires grantees receiving more than $250,000 in City or City-Administered funds to hold open board meetings, make financial records available to the public, and make good faith efforts to promote community membership in its Board of Directors.

  • be orderly and sensitive to public safety by obtaining permitting from appropriate City departments in the neighborhood where the event will be held.

  • comply with the City of San Francisco’s business tax requirements.

  • comply with all applicable municipal ordinances including those from the Department of Public Health-Bureau of Environmental Health Services.

  • comply with the City of San Francisco’s insurance requirements demonstrating adequate insurance and liability coverage at least ten days prior to event.


Funding Limitations

In general, GFTA does not fund:

  • education and training activities, or performing activities for/by students.

  • organizations whose primary purpose is to provide space, technical assistance or support services to the arts.

  • start-up money for a program not yet established.

  • deficit reduction.

  • one-time only projects or special events.

  • individual artists.

  • activities not available to the general public.

  • activities taking place outside the City and County of San Francisco.

  • meals, lodging or transportation.

  • benefits, fundraisers, or national day celebrations.

  • film/video production.


Grant Amount

In general, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund has a goal of providing general operating funding based on a flexible and proportional percent of annual expense budgets, ranging from at least 15% of the expense budgets of small organizations to approximately 2.5% of the expense budgets of the largest groups. Funds are distributed on a reimbursement basis after submission of appropriate documentation.


Budget Guidelines

GFTA has a goal of providing funding based on the following approximate percent of the last completed fiscal year’s budget using the following guidelines:

  • Organizations with budgets of under $350,000: 15%.

  • Budgets of more than $350,000 but less than $750,000: 10%.

  • Budgets of more than $750,000 but less than $1,000,000: 8%.

  • Budgets of more than $1,000,000 but less than $3 million: 6%.

  • Budgets of more than $3 million but less than $10 million: 5%.

  • Budgets of more than $10 million: no set percentage; meaningful sustaining funds will be awarded.

Our minimum grant is $5,000. Please note that these percentages are only guidelines.


For New Applicants Only

We strongly encourage you to inform Grants for the Arts staff of your upcoming performances and exhibitions. No new applicant will be considered for funding unless it has received a site visit from staff or a designated representative.