In August 2016, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Hemera Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, and RedLine Contemporary Art Center joined forces to launch a new collaborative grantmaking program: Arts in Society. Hemera Foundation, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and Colorado Creative Industries fund the initiative, which is administered by RedLine. This program has an expressed mission to foster cross-sector work through the arts. Through this partnership we seek to build capacity for social practice projects that implement artistic excellence to engage social issues in communities across Colorado.

Grants are determined by a selection panel and seek projects that best illustrate artistic excellence, broaden the understanding of the role arts play in society, demonstrate cross-sector work, exhibit cultural relevancy, foster community engagement, and present opportunities for shared learning.

Average grant sizes range between $10,000 - $50,000 and will be awarded to 15 - 25 artists, arts organizations, or other nonprofit groups per year during the 2017-2018 two-year pilot period.

I want to make sure that in all of the shuffle of the Arts in Society granting process that I don’t forget to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! This is such an innovative and meaningful grant and I feel truly privileged to be a part of it. We have been having so many meetings lately with our resident leaders about how to proceed with the project and everyone has expressed huge gratitude at being able to try out such a strange and (hopefully) transformative process. Know that even if we fail miserably, your work has made a big difference to folks who often feel excluded from artistic and civic decision-making—-just by having faith and trust in them to attempt this.

Being an artist/activist and running a non-profit here in Denver can be difficult and rewarding, but it can’t sustain without the work of you all and so I hope you understand how much it means to me (and others) that you do what you do...and the way you do it.

with respect and thanks,


2017 Arts in society granted projects

Art from Ashes Inc.
Drawing on Air: Creative Youth Empowerment Workshops Using Visual Metaphor
Purpose: To empower youth by providing visual arts education in addition to spoken word and poetry lessons.

Birdseed Collective
E.P.I. Center at Globeville Recreation Center Purpose: To provide residents with consistent, high quality arts education at Globeville Recreation Center.

Boulder Community Broadcast Association (KGNU)
Boulder County Media Gardens Initiative – Nuestras Ondas / La Encrucijada
Purpose: To engage the Spanish-speaking community in the creation of content for local community broadcasting.

Café Cultura
Strong Stories
Purpose: To further develop Café Cultura’s unique, culturally relevant, and engaging community open mic series in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood in West Denver.

Colorado Black Arts Movement
My Dinner in Montbello – A Culinary Drama
Purpose: To develop a performance, in partnership with residents, that will focus on food and the experience of dinner in Montbello households.

Colorado Humanities
Denver Veterans’ War Stories: Writing Workshops, Anthology Publication, Readings and Conversations. Purpose: To provide writing workshops for local veterans, led by literary artists who are also veterans, and publish the writings for the community.

Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Elephant Circle
Message to Our Mothers | Mensaje a Nuestras Madres.                                                             Purpose: To explore the relationship between adult children and their mothers who have struggled with substance abuse and addiction by bringing to Denver Branislav Jankic’s exhibition “Letter to My Mother” and by engaging community through letters and photographs.

Ann Cunningham
Evolving Tactile Art and Tactile Graphics Through Community Participation
Purpose: To support the expansion of tactile art— a sculptural and visual art form for people with visual impairments – in partnership with the National Federation for the Blind.

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA)
Invention and Imagination                                                                                                             Purpose: To further develop creative competencies that link to youth interests in science, robotics, computers, and health sciences through a STEAM education program.

ECDC/African Community Center of Denver (ACC)
We Made This                                                                                                                               Purpose: To operate a sewing social enterprise that works primarily with refugee women, providing employment training and psychosocial support.

EcoArts Connections
Si Se Puede, San Lazaro and Boulder Ridge
Purpose: To create a series of monthly Latino youth-organized art and community action workshops for students age 6-18.

Elsewhere Studios
INSPIRED: Art at Work
Purpose: To address cultural and environmental issues around fracking, development and loss of jobs through a cross-disciplinary collaborative artist residency program.

Foothills Art Center
Help, Hope, and Strength
Purpose: To fight mental health stigma and suicide at Golden High School with a five-part project, including a summer program, parent workshops, theater, a documentary, and a mural.

History Colorado
Southern Colorado Memory Projects
Purpose: To assist residents of Eastwood Heights, Pueblo, and Trinidad in reclaiming site-based memory and history through community narratives, history collection, storytelling, and arts.

International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management (“IIIRM”)
14th Annual Indigenous Film & Arts Festival
Purpose: To hold a festival showcasing films by and about Indigenous people, creating an awareness of indigenous issues and perspectives through traditional and modern storytelling.

Picture Me Here
Digital Storytelling, Art and Entrepreneurism Fellowship for New Americans
Purpose: To develop, in partnership with Emily Griffith Technical College, a year-long fellowship for refugees and immigrants that will build professional skills in creative media as well as business.

Rio Grande Farm Park
Creating Community Through the Arts at the Rio Grande Farm Park
Purpose: To encourage inclusive engagement and community at the Rio Grande Farm Park (RGFP) by installing artist-designed sitting places throughout the Park.

Artist Tara Rynders in collaboration with Rose Medical Center
The Clinic
Purpose: To bring a new culture of cure to Rose Medical Center through movement classes, dance, films, and performance.

VSA Colorado/Access Gallery
Purpose: To provide economic opportunities through the arts for young artists with disabilities by working with professional artists and collaborating within the broader arts community.

Vision Zero Community Art Project
Purpose: To bring together the community along Denver’s Colfax corridor to create public art installations that raise awareness of traffic safety.

Warm Cookies of the Revolution
This Machine Has A Soul!
Purpose: To create a Rube Goldberg-style machine designed to engage local residents in participatory budgeting



Upcoming Deadlines: 

Information Sessions:  

Live information sessions for the 2017/18 grant cycle will be scheduled during summer 2017. Look back here for further information.  


About the application process

Application Questions:

-       Requested amount & total cost of project

-       Start & End date

-       Neighborhood, City & County

-       Tell us about your project. What inspired the idea? Who are the artists and/or partners that are involved?

-       Tell us about your community and how they will be engaged.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the rules for the program?

In order to be eligible for a grant, applicants must reside in the state of Colorado and have an arts idea that engages a social issue.

 What’s considered socially engaged art?

Good question. There are many definitions, but we like this one: “an art medium that focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of art that informs a social issue”.

If you want to learn more about this field of practice, please see the following links:

A Blade of Grass

Creative Time

Pablo Helguera, Education for Socially Engaged Art

 How do you define community?

We define community in geographic and relational terms. A project must work with a community of people who share something in common (interest, geography, heritage, etc.).


Who can apply?

Arts in Society is open to nonprofits and individuals. Basically, all who reside in the state of Colorado can apply. You do NOT need to be an arts organization. We encourage applications from non-arts organizations like human service groups, neighborhood organizations or healthcare organizations (as examples).

Can individual artists apply?


Could government entities apply?


Could an organization or artist located outside of Colorado be eligible to apply if they use an eligible local organization as a fiscal sponsor?

Primary applicants must be from Colorado. If you are an organization or artist outside the state of Colorado interested in applying, you must partner with an organization within the state in order to be eligible. A fiscal sponsor does not count as a “partner”. Partner organizations must play a critical role in the implementation of the project.

If I am already a grantee of Bonfils-Stanton, Hemera, and Colorado Creative Industries can I also apply to this program?



What’s the difference between the application and a “full proposal?”

The application gives us just enough information to understand your idea and its context. If we choose it as a finalist, we will invite you to write a more detailed proposal.

How many applications may I submit?

There is no limit. Each application should be for a different project. We encourage applicants to submit their strongest idea(s).

If I am an artist or arts group, is a non-arts partner required?

No, but if your project addresses or works with a social issue (as it should), the final proposal should speak to your ability and cultural competency in engaging with that social issue. 


How much will be awarded?

Each year, Arts in Society will grant $500,000 to approximately 15-25 projects. We anticipate grants will range from $10,000-$50,000 depending on the project.

Is there a matching requirement, or could AiS fund the entire cost of a project?

There is no “match” requirement (i.e. a need to raise matching dollars to what is awarded). Applicants may request the full cost of a project.

Could AiS award less than the requested amount? If so, would the expected scope of work be adjusted to reflect lower funding?

Yes and yes.

If our request is for partial support, how secure does the other funding need to be if I want to have a competitive proposal?

You do not need to have secured other funding in order to be competitive. Applications will be reviewed on the artistic merit of the project idea.

Could funds be used for capital projects - a facility renovation or construction, for example - if it meets the program objectives?



Who reviews my application?

A panel of mostly local and some national experts, with the support of both Bonfils-Stanton,  Hemera, and Colorado Creative Industries staff will review each application. Ultimately, the final decision lies with each Foundation’s board of trustees.

What criteria will be used to review my application?

Panelists will review applications on the following criteria:
 Artistic Excellence and Merit - How is excellence of the artist’s work and/or artistic process demonstrated? Is there a quality artistic output as a result of the project?
Relationships- What are the relationships to community, to partners, to artists, or others involved? How authentic are these relationships? Are multiple sectors included?
Intent & Viability- Is the scope of this project realistic? Is the intended outcome viable? Are the right partners engaged?
Relevancy- How is the need for the project demonstrated? Is the approach informed by the community?

 How do you define artistic excellence?

The arts are central to the project and the proposal reflects an informed understanding of the particular art form(s) being implemented. The criteria for the selection of artist and/or artwork is clearly defined and documented.

If my proposal is not accepted, will I know why?

Due to the number of applications we expect to receive, each one of them will not receive individual comments from the reviewers. As such, we cannot share with you exact reasons for your project being declined.

Grant Awards

When will grants be announced?

April 2017.

If I am funded, how long will I have to complete the grant?

Each applicant will determine the length necessary to complete the project. We anticipate projects should go no longer than 24 months.
How soon will we hear back with a decision on our applications?

You will be contacted via email late November with either an invitation to submit a full proposal or with the decision to decline your application.

What is entailed in the "learning community" work?

All grantees will be required to participate in a series (3 per year) of convenings to discuss what they’ve learned through the process of implementing their projects. Meetings will be held locally.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

For information about this program please contact Libby Barbee, Programming and Arts in Society Manager at libby.redlineart@gmail.com


About Bonfils-Stanton Foundation
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation strategically provides grants and fellowships to advance the arts and inspire creative leadership in Denver. Our foundation is richly steeped in Denver’s cultural history, but we are also a contemporary leader in fueling innovation and exploration in our creative economy. Each year we give more than $3 million to arts organizations and nonprofit leaders, because we believe these entities and individuals are critical to building and sustaining a vibrant community.


About Colorado Creative Industries

Colorado’s Creative Industries Division, Colorado’s state arts agency, is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Established to capitalize on the immense potential for our creative sector to enhance economic growth in Colorado, the mission of Colorado Creative Industries is to promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado’s economy, grow jobs and enhance our quality of life.  www.coloradocreativeindustries.org

About The Hemera Foundation
The Hemera Foundation, established in 2007, is a Boulder based charitable organization. The Hemera Foundation supports innovative organizations and initiatives that foster basic human goodness in individuals and society.