Grants to Arts Organizations

Community Orchestra Plays at Percival Landing

Overview & Purpose

In 2019, the City is offering up to $20,000 for projects in the Grants to Arts Organizations (GAO) program. The GAO offers grants up to $5,000. We expect to fund successful applicants for the full amount of the project on a 50/50 match basis. For example, a $10,000 project would be considered for a $5,000 grant.

Funding requests should not exceed 50% of total project expenses

The GAO Program funds projects that provide equitable access to the arts for all Olympians. The program goal is to expand citizen involvement with the arts, engage underserved populations, and promote the interests of the broader Olympia community.

The mission of the Olympia Arts Commission is to help enrich the lives of the people of the region by making visual, performing and literary arts vital elements in the life of our community.

The City requests project proposals from registered non-profit arts organizations with a minimum two-year history of serving Olympia to be funded on a 50/50 matching basis. Project review and approval is based on community involvement, organizational strength, and (project) potential for engagement.

How to Apply

Applications can be submitted in the following ways:

  • Email:
  • Mail: Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation; P.O. Box 1967: Olympia, WA 98507
  • In Person: The Olympia Center; 222 Columbia St NW; Olympia, WA 98501

2019 Program Timeline

  • Release Request for Proposals: September 27, 2018
  • Application Workshop: Wednesday, October 10, 6-7 p.m., The Olympia Center Rm 200
  • Application Deadline: November 2, 2018, 5 p.m.
  • Arts Commission Review for Recommendation: November 8, 2018
  • Council Review & Approval: November 27, 2018
  • Contracts: December 2018
  • Project Completion Date: December 2019
  • Project Reports: January 2020


To apply for GAO support, an organization must have its primary location in Olympia and meet all of the following:

  • a mission and programs centered on arts in Olympia,
  • a minimum two-year history of continuous operation serving Olympia residents,
  • a not-for-profit business structure 501(c)3,
  • at least one ongoing arts program open to the public in Olympia ,and
  • a City of Olympia Business License

Types of Projects

This program seeks to fund projects that engage citizens through the arts. Most projects must be completed by the end of a year (12 months from contract signature). Sculptural projects proposed to be placed in the public Right of Way may have a longer period for completion.

GAO funds must be used to support a project that is accessible to and provides public benefit for Olympia residents and visitors. This can be one of your core programs and services; or a new program or project.

Eligible Project Examples

  • Performance
  • Exhibits
  • Educational opportunities (presentations/lectures, workshops, walking tours, training, etc.)
  • Collaborations
  • Research, planning, and/or analysis that can help strengthen Olympia’s arts and cultural base
  • Innovative production that cultivates the cultural community

Ineligible Project Examples

  • Events not accessible to the public
  • School, college and university departments or programs that are part of regular or extra-curricular school programs
  • Religious services, or events or presentations in which fundraising is the primary purpose
  • Fundraisers
  • Lobbying efforts
  • Elections work
  • Personal Travel
  • Loans

Project Review and Approval

A review committee composed of City staff, at least one Arts Commission member, and one Citizen at Large (could be a Councilmember) will review applications. The committee’s recommendations will go to the City Council for review and approval.

Minimum Requirements 

All applications will be reviewed to determine that they meet the minimum requirements of the program. These are:

  1. Project benefits Olympia residents and visitors; and
  2. Project is accessible to the public.

The City reserves the right not to select any proposal at all, and reserves the right to change the process or schedule upon public notice.

Evaluation Criteria

In addition to meeting the minimum project requirements, project proposals that demonstrate the following will be given first priority by the review committee:

Arts Organization

  • Community Involvement. Does the applicant demonstrate a history of involvement and activity within the community?
  • Organizational Strength. Does the prior work of the Arts Organization exhibit the capacity to complete the proposed project?
  • Potential for Engagement. Does the prior work of the Arts Organization demonstrate their ability to engage Olympia’s citizens in meaningful ways to expand involvement in the arts?

Does the Project Proposal?

  • Contribute to broad distribution of arts experiences throughout Olympia. Commissioners will consider the relative representation of art among City neighborhoods, and seek to distribute public art broadly throughout the community.
  • Provide for diverse forms of art within the community. A wide range of style, media, subjects and viewpoints will offer perspective and interest for everyone.
  • Bring new ideas, innovation, or thinking to the community.
  • Contribute to a balanced offering of arts experiences within the Olympia community?

The Fine Print

  1. Total Combined Grants: The City will accept grant proposals sponsored cooperatively by two or more registered non-profit arts organizations. Grant shall not exceed $5000.
  2. Full or Partial Awards: While the committee will strive to recommend the requested amount per project, they may also partially fund, at their discretion.
  3. Payments: Grants will be paid upon the submission of bona fide invoices & receipts for approved work. Receipts will be reimbursed to the organization or member who made the purchase; invoices can be paid directly to the provider of the goods/service or paid as a reimbursement to the organization or member. Grant Expense Forms must be submitted directly by the organization, not via a third party.
  4. Carryover: A carryover of grant funds to the following year may conditionally be approved one time only, in advance, at the City’s discretion. Carryovers for more than one additional year will not be considered.
  5. Limitations: Projects that require exceptional public process or changes to existing ordinances (such as zone changes and public hearings) will not be considered.
  6. Insurance: Selected Arts Organizations must carry insurance to the City’s specifications during the time span of the project. The Agency shall carry for the duration of this Contract Commercial General Liability of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 aggregate. The comprehensive liability policy called for must have a forty-five (45) day cancellation notice if canceled or altered by any party. A Certificate of Insurance including the forty-five (45) day notice provision shall be provided to the City within one (1) week after the execution of this Contract.

Project Final Reports

Grant recipients will submit a report on their project within two months of project completion. This allows staff to share success stories with the City Council, staff and other Olympia residents. Highlights should include: 1) Project description; 2) Process photos; 3) Number of participants; 4) Observations or stories of interest; and 5) Financial project summary. This information will be presented to the City Council in recognition of the work of your organization to strengthen the Olympia community.


Contact Stephanie Johnson, Arts Program Manager at or 360.709.2678