Calling Northern California Artists — The Creative Work Fund Is Opening Their Wallet

The Creative Work Fund wants Northern California-based artists to collaborate, and they're putting up $40,000 grants per collaboration to make it happen.

The fund, which is a program of the Walter and Elisa Haas Fund, is committed to addressing the "decline in support for artists and new works." Of course, many other foundations encourage the creation of new work, but what makes this endeavor particularly interesting is the emphasis on collaboration — "genuine creative partnerships between artists and nonprofit organizations." So let's get into the details.

First and foremost, the fund is only looking for new work, not the distribution or productions of work already developed or completed. Meanwhile, this collaboration must be spearheaded by a lead artist with a "strong track record" who works in tandem with a nonprofit organization.

Naturally, this arrangement will appeal to artists who have developed deep relationships with Northern California nonprofits. Conversely, nonprofit stakeholders may want to sit down and jot down a list of artists they've worked with in the past, or those they'd like to partner with in the future. But there's a catch (isn't there always?). The fund is specifically looking for "traditional artists" and those who work in the media space.

The former category includes artists who "create in art forms learned as part of the cultural life of a group whose members have a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region." The fund is particularly interested in expressions of this shared heritage that are conveyed orally or by "emulation." Meanwhile, media-focused artists includes those who "create narrative, documentary, animated, or experimental time-based works using audio, digital, film, and/or video media."

Lastly, collaborating artists and organizations must live or be located in the Northern or Central California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, or Stanislaus, and have been there for at least two years.

Nonprofits simply need to plan projects and prepare letters of inquiry in tandem with their artist of choice.  Better yet, the fund is co-hosting a series of educational seminars beginning in September and running through November 2014. The deadline to apply is December 5, 2014.

Check out the link to the RFP. Because at the end of the day, if you're a Northern Californian nonprofit that meets the aforementioned guidelines, you have pretty much nothing to lose and $40,000 to gain. (And while you're in San Francisco, you'll also want to check out Southern Exposure, which is practically supporting the city's experimental arts scene single-handedly.)