The Bay & Paul Foundations: Grants for Visual Arts

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

IP TAKE: The foundation prioritizes education—including arts education, with visual arts first and foremost, with two potential funding streams. Regardless of the funding area, The Bay & Paul Foundations frames its funding as support for social movements and expects grant seekers’ proposals to demonstrate both program rigor and a vision for "contributing to civil society."

PROFILE: The Bay & Paul Foundations was created in 2005 when The Bay Foundation and the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation merged into one. Josephine Bay Paul established the former foundation with her first husband and the latter with her second husband. The foundation seeks to create “vibrant communities whose skillful collaborations assure just and ecologically robust outcomes for present and future generations” and to support a social movement that creates a just and ecologically sound society. 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 prioritizes 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 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 visual arts programs 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 to synergize with arts education, which really is more closely related to arts engagement for this funder. In fact, The Bay & Paul Foundations also emphasizes that while a program can take place in a classroom setting, it is more interesting to them if it does not. The foundation encourages outside the box thinking and favors “initiatives that engage the broader community to help youth and adults acquire powerful expressive literacies and cross-cultural intelligences.”

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

For visual arts programs, past grants supported 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, past visual arts grants supported 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 grantmaking, 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 is not formally stated.) The foundation has an open, online LOI process. Biannual deadlines vary; check the website for upcoming dates.

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