City Hall is distributing $525,525 to 56 local artists/arts organizations as part of its biannual grant cycle and local recipients said they money is a key resource to keep arts viable in Santa Monica.

The number of recipients of the two year grants (covering 2023-2024) increased this year by 12% and officials said they are part of ongoing efforts to increase access to local arts programs.

“Santa Monica Cultural Affairs invests in people and programs that enrich our lives through the arts,” said Cultural Affairs Manager Sofia Klatzker in a statement. “We do this by making public funding accessible for local arts organizations and individual artists who reflect and serve the diversity of people and experiences across the City. All of our grant programs are focused on supporting a healthy creative sector and prioritize equity and organizational sustainability. This is ultimately how we support the City’s resiliency—by building back and growing the creative economy.”

The grants are divided into three groups, Organizational Support, Community Access & Participation and Artist Fellowships.

According to the City, 22 organizations were part of the Support group with more than $400,000 distributed.

“Created in 1997, the Organizational Support Program, provides two years of sustained investment in the city’s cultural institutions, with the goal of ensuring that Santa Monicans have equitable access to a diversity of excellence in art, creativity, culture, and innovation. The program meets this objective by offering multiyear discretionary funding to Santa Monica-based arts and heritage nonprofits,” said the announcement of the grants.

Rob Schwenker, Executive Director of the Santa Monica History Museum said nonprofits often have to target money from organizations who put restrictions on its use. While any aid is appreciated, he said the City’s grants can be used for anything, making them particularly helpful.

“What I really like about city grant program is when they ask you to apply, they ask you about the totally of your program offering and that holistic nature of the give allows me to use if for my biggest expense which is the people that run all our programs and are what allows us to invite people in to understand this place and their story a little better,” he said.

Judith Meister from Westside Ballet said her organization will use the money predominantly to support the upcoming 50th season for its popular Nutcracker production.

She said the consistency of City support was valuable to organizations on perpetually tight budgets.

“During Covid, the city supported grant recipients and continued it all through Covid,” she said. “Just having continued it, that was a big deal as all the arts organizations were suffering during Covid and just trying to stay alive. We went back to performing at the end of Covid which is really important to us so having the City’s support is important. Being in Santa Monica we know the arts have always been important.”

The Community Access & Participation grants totaled $70,000 this year to 29 programs.

The Community Access & Participation (CAP) grant program was established in 2018 and provides annual funding to Santa Monica-based nonprofit arts and culture organizations increasing access to high quality arts and culture programs to Santa Monica residents and visitors,” said the city’s announcement.

The program supports heritage, cultural and youth causes. The award also has a funding priority for Latino artists.

A total of $15,800 was awarded to five individuals under the Artist Fellowship Program. This year writer and poet Cynthia Alessandra Briano and choreographer and interdisciplinary artist Ann Carlson were selected.

Digital media artist Lola del Fresno received the second annual Kate Johnson Digital Arts Fellowship and projects by writer Mia Alvar, and choreographer Suchi Branfman were also selected.

“One of the largest, public-sector, individual artist programs in the U.S., the Artist Fellowship Program provides a platform for both emerging and established artists. This support helps create a thriving arts ecosystem and reinforces residents’ long-standing regard for creativity and innovation,” said the City’s statement. “Since 2009 a cumulative total of 62 visual artists, writers, choreographers, performance artists, and musicians will have received robust support from the program.”

For the list of current grantees and artist fellows, visit

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...