The Bay & Paul Foundations: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Bay & Paul Foundations is committed to arts and humanities, education, and the environment as matters of “social compact” and as “agents of change.”

IP TAKE: Education is a primary focus of this foundation, including a specific focus on arts education—that even more specifically addresses the visual arts as a primary interest, with two potential funding streams. Regardless of the grantmaking pot, The Bay & Paul Foundations frame its funding as supporting a social movement and expects your proposal to demonstrate both program rigor and a vision for "contributing to civil society."

PROFILE: The Bay & Paul Foundations is a name in plural because in 2005 two long-established sister foundations merged into one: The Bay Foundation and the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation. Their commonality was Josephine Bay Paul, who established the former foundation with her first husband, and the latter with her second husband.

Now streamlined, giving from The Bay & Paul Foundations stems from a desire to support a social movement that creates a just and ecologically sound society. Or, as the foundation states: “Our vision is of vibrant communities whose skillful collaborations assure just and ecologically robust outcomes for present and future generations.”

Education—including arts education, with visual arts first and foremost—is an unqualified part of that vision.

The Bay & Paul Foundations support visual arts through two different funding streams: Educational Applications of Cultural Collections and Arts & Humanities Education.  

As it relates to visual arts programs, the foundation's Educational Applications of Cultural Collections sector focuses on museums, in the context of conservation and preservation, including training programs that teach and promote conservation and preservation. The Bay & Paul Foundations compound the education emphasis of this giving area by stating a a preference for "projects and initiatives that support youth in becoming agents of change encountering a world of burgeoning challenge and opportunity."

Through its Arts & Humanities Education sector, Bay & Paul focuses more on applied visual arts, though still filtered through an education lens. What is promising for your visual arts program here is that the foundation distinguishes itself from other arts education funders by stressing its interest in adults as well as youth. That means more opportunities and more flexibility for how you can synergize with arts education, which really is more closely related to arts engagement for this funder. In fact, The Bay & Paul Foundations also emphasize that while your program can take place in a classroom setting, it’s more interesting to them if it doesn’t. The foundation encourages you to think outside the box, stating:

. . . we favor initiatives that engage the broader community to help youth and adults acquire powerful expressive literacies and cross-cultural intelligences. Our grantees embrace the arts not as an adjunct or “enrichment” offering but as central to learning, growth, achievement, and an evolving sense of personal and collective identity.

Across all giving sectors, other key words reinforcing this foundation’s view of its granting as social movement are found in its values statement: Courage, patience, humility, listening, understanding, collaboration, opportunities.

For visual arts programs, recent grants have gone to the Peabody Essex Museum ($10,000) in Salem, MA, and the Shelburne Museum ($5,000) in Shelburne, VT, through the Educational Applications of Cultural Collections funding stream.

Through Arts & Humanities Education, recent visual arts grants have gone to The Millay Colony for the Arts ($11,000) in Austerlitz, NY; Studio in a School ($8,000) in New York, NY; and BRIC Arts ($7,500) in Brooklyn, NY.

    For the foundation's Arts & Humanities Education giving, it states a strong preference for the New York City area, though this is not an absolute. (For the record, Vermont is another geographic focus for this funder, though it’s not formally stated.) The foundation has an open, online LOI process. Biannual deadlines vary; check the website for upcoming dates.

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