Arts & Culture

Arts and community building

This focus area closed after our Arts and Culture team integrated its grantmaking framework under the concept of ‘creative placemaking’ in late 2012.

We seek to foster the power of arts and culture to recharge and rebuild communities of all sizes throughout the United States. 

Focus Area Overview

Cultural institutions and artists animate our communities; they bring disparate people together to share common experiences, stimulating our imaginations and helping us foster a rich and varied quality of life. Yet no systematic way exists to support art and culture as a tool for revitalizing communities. We believe we can play a role in creating this infrastructure by investing in exemplary national and local efforts, capturing the best practices and sharing them with the field. 

Our approach to this work has been shaped by six principles:

  • Community cultural development is a growing field with minimal national infrastructure.
  • The structure and dynamics of community cultural ecosystems are not well understood.
  • Cultural development is local.
  • Local community development requires an indigenous support system.
  • Effective community cultural development requires sustained engagement.
  • Arts-centered community building is inherently complex because it involves other community sectors such as social services, community development and public safety.

We are approaching this work at the national and local levels. Each is being advanced through the work of invited applicants.

At the national level, we are:

  • Funding exemplary organizations dedicated to integrating arts and community building activities and identifying new methods as models for the field.
  • Commissioning and publishing research on efforts to integrate cultural organizations and artists into community-building efforts.
  • Elevating the visibility of arts and community building and disseminating best practices through meetings, publications and other means as appropriate.

At the local level, we are:

  • Monitoring and evaluating the activities of our Community Arts mini-grant initiative, which was launched in 2009. Participants in Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Detroit; St. Louis; and Tucson, Ariz., received funding to support grassroots arts and cultural projects that unite communities and address pressing social issues. All projects will conclude by the end of 2012.

Our 2007-2010 Community Arts Partners:

Baltimore, Maryland – The Baltimore Community Foundation
Birmingham, Alabama – Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham
Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, Michigan
St. Louis, Missouri – The Arts and Education Council in St. Louis
Tucson, Arizona – Tucson Pima Arts Council


Nonprofits that are 501(C)(3) organizations and public agencies based in the United States, and not classified as private foundations, are eligible to apply.

Application Process

Our most recent application period closed Feb. 1, 2012. This grant opportunity may be modified in the future. Please watch for program updates.

An application has two parts:

  1. Part 1, the preliminary application, contains a data-entry component and several attachments, including a narrative.
  2. If a program officer determines your request is favorable, he or she will ask you to provide additional information. This will constitute Part 2 of the application process.

Within 10 weeks of the Part 1 submission you will be contacted. We invite those with promising requests to complete the second part of the application process.

Final grant amount decisions will be made after review of the two-part application and conversations with the potential grantee.