How to Snag a Grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

One funding source that seems pretty obvious, but that sometimes gets overlooked by nonprofits is the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. For example, did you know that the L.A. County Arts Commission provides around $4.5 million in grants to approximately 200 artists, arts organizations, and schools each year? In 2015, 184 local arts groups received two-year grants.

The arts are a big deal in L.A., more so than most U.S. cities, which translates into more competition for local arts grants. And here, arts funding goes beyond just paying for painters to display their works and theater groups to stay on stage. About one of seven jobs in L.A. County is in the creative economy, and nearly all local parents support arts education in school.

So to help you get prepared and stay ahead of the game, here are a few tips on how to snag a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Ask for General Operating Support

While many funders shy away from the broad risks associated with providing general operating support, the arts commission embraces it. The arts commission provides two-year general operating support grants to fund core operations related to music, dance, theater, and arts education.

Ask for Salary and Job Creation Funds

It also likes to support staffing and capacity-building causes for arts groups. This can be pretty hard to come by in a funder these days, but the arts commission sees a significant workforce and economic benefit in it. In fact, 89, or 48 percent, of the 184 grantees in 2015 applied for funding to pay for salaries or create jobs.

“Sixty percent of applicants have increased award amounts from the last time these organizations were funded,” said Claire Peeps, president of the Arts Commission. “Almost half of these grants will support ongoing salaries or new jobs, so arts organizations will not only be able to provide a diverse range of cultural services for residents, they’ll also be employing them.”

Ask for an Amount between $5,000 to $150,000

In the most recent grant cycle, all grant amounts fell between $3,000 and $163,000. This should be the target range for new proposals too since the estimated amount of funding stays consistent from year to year. Most recent grants have been between $10,000 and $50,000 each. In 2015, grants were spread across 28 of L.A. County’s 88 municipalities. For a full list of 2014-2015 grantees and award amounts, check out the grantees page.

Check out the Funder’s Website in September

Why September? Well, because that’s when the arts commission will be posting its new grant applicant guidelines for 2016-2017. In the meantime, you can check out the 2015/2016 guidelines or contact the grants staff with general questions at grants@arts.lacounty.gov or 213-202-5858.

Attend a Workshop

If you’ve never received an L.A. Arts Commission grant before, this is actually not a suggestion; it’s a requirement. The commission will be hosting two-part workshops throughout Los Angeles County in September and October to inform potential applicants about guidelines and tips for submitting proposals. You’ll be able to find specific information about workshop locations and dates on the funder’s website in early September as well.