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About Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions

Launched in 2017 in honor of the Hewlett Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions initiative celebrates the foundation’s longstanding commitment to the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. The $8 million initiative awards ten $150,000 commissions each year for exceptional new works by extraordinary artists working in partnership with San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit organizations.

Commissions awarded in 2022 will support the creation of ten new works in media art to premiere in the Bay Area between 2022-2025. Specifically, the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions initiative seeks applications from nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area partnering with artists for new performance-based projects that center the use of emerging media arts technologies. We invite projects that engage and challenge the bounds of performance—such as dance, theater, music, sound, social practice, movement-based, and time-based work—through the use of media, including but not limited to electronic, computational, algorithmic, robotic, software, sonic, digital, data, cyber, web, immersive, XR, virtual, crypto, and AI.

See the awardees.


  • February 1 – March 9, 2022, 1pm PT/4pm ET: Application Portal Open for Letters of Inquiry (LOI)
  • April 2022: Applicants Advancing to Full Application Round Notified
  • May 18, 2022: Full Application Due (by invitation only)
  • July 2022: Finalists Notified
  • August 2022: Awardees Notified
  • Fall 2022: Public Announcement of Awards

How To Apply

The application portal is now closed.


The 2022 Hewlett 50 Art Commissions for Media Arts Application Handbook provides a full overview of the application process, including: an expanded timeline, eligibility criteria, application questions, review process, and post-award activities and requirements.

Download the Application Handbook

Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions applications require a partnership between:

  • a nonprofit organization (lead applicant) headquartered in one of eleven Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma;
  • and a lead artist, based anywhere in the world.

Applications will be submitted on behalf of the partnership by the nonprofit organization, which is designated the lead applicant. Applications from nonprofit organizations that are not exclusively focused on the arts are welcome and encouraged. To find out more about the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, and past awardees, please visit this page.

Eligible genres

  • Media art with a strong live performance element (i.e., time-based, movement-based, etc.)
  • Hybrid performance (live theater, music, and dance) centering the use of emerging media arts technology
  • Social practice/socially engaged art that center the use of performance and emerging technology

Genres not eligible*

  • Documentary film
  • Feature film

*While projects that are primarily documentary and feature films are not eligible, we welcome performance-based media arts projects that incorporate elements of feature film and documentary.

The application is broken into two rounds. In the first round (the Letter of Inquiry round), all applicants will submit information about your organization’s eligibility, lead artist, project, and work samples. Applicants invited to the second round (the Full Application round) will have six weeks to submit a timeline, budgets, and additional information about the lead artist and collaborators. Applicants designated finalists will have two weeks to submit a Memorandum of Understanding. Please see the Application Handbook for a full breakdown of what will be asked in each application stage. We strongly recommend you prepare your materials beforehand.

Review Process
A national panel of artist-practitioners and field experts knowledgeable about media arts will review and score all eligible applications and select finalists. Final awards will be based on a combination of recommendations from the panelists and from the Hewlett Performing Arts Program staff. All project reviews will be informed by the Hewlett Foundation’s aim to award projects that are diverse by genre, geography and artistic voice.

Proposals will be evaluated using the following selection criteria (please note that the first two criteria—Project and Partnership—will be weighted more heavily than the third, Audience):

  • Project: Conception and Innovation
  • Proposal clearly articulates the subject matter and major theme(s) of the proposed project and explains how the work will illuminate or advance the key theme(s).
  • Proposal demonstrates boundary-pushing, bold, inventive and singular vision in form with the potential to challenge the status quo and spark new conversations in its given field and for the larger arts community.
  • Partnership: Artist Experience and Organizational Capacity
  • The lead artist’s training and accomplishments demonstrate why they are positioned to be in the distinctive role of lead artist. Proposal communicates the artist’s depth of thought and distinct creative approach to the theme(s).
  • Proposal convincingly shows how the lead applicant, lead artist, and key collaborators have the capacity to fully realize the project, and that the applicant has the financial capacity to fulfill the commissioned project without creating great financial strain on the organization. Strong proposals will give evidence that the project brings together the administrative and artistic resources, knowledge, and team to ensure the project will be created and produced as planned.
  • Audience: Accessibility and Impact
  • Proposal describes outreach, promotion and community engagement activities (if any), and explains any efforts toward greater accessibility, such as disability access, language, ticketing policies, or public events beyond the performance.
  • Proposal describes the intended constituents, participants, and/or audiences for the new work, and describes the impact the proposed project is likely to have on the art form, the cultural community, and/or the artist(s).

Please note that Creative Capital staff does not make decisions regarding who is awarded the commissions. A grant review panel will result in recommendations that will inform the final decisions, which are made by the Hewlett Foundation.


For more information, please see the Application Handbook

What is media art?

“Media art” is a unique form of artistic expression that makes use of emerging technologies to create work that takes virtual, physical, and hybrid forms. In this way of working, technology is both the medium and the tool. For this reason, media arts projects are often defined not only by their use of technological tools, but also a critical and strategic engagement with these technologies.

How do I apply for a Commission?

The building blocks of a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions application is the partnership between a lead applicant and a lead artist. The lead applicant must be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in one of 11 Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma. The nonprofit organization must have a minimum annual organizational budget of $50,000 or greater for the past two fiscal years. The lead applicant is responsible for submitting the application, entering into the grant agreement with the Hewlett Foundation, commissioning the lead artist, and managing the project to completion. The lead applicant and lead artist should collaboratively plan the project and prepare the application. A lead applicant organization may collaborate with other organizations. Organizations with an annual budget of less than $50,000 must apply through a fiscal sponsor that has an annual budget of at least $50,000.

What if we do not have nonprofit status? Can we still apply?

Entities without 501(c)(3) nonprofit status may apply through a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must be 501(c)(3) charitable organization, be headquartered in one the 11 Bay Area counties, and have an average annual organizational budget of $50,000 or greater, as described above. Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement between a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (the fiscal sponsor) and a charitable project. The fiscal sponsor serves as the lead applicant. Learn more about fiscal sponsorship models here.

Can current Hewlett Foundation grantees apply?

Yes, current Hewlett Foundation grantees in all program areas are eligible to apply if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Can Creative Capital Awardees apply?

Can Creative Capital Awardees apply?
Yes, Creative Capital Awardees are eligible to apply if they meet the eligibility requirements.