Neighborhood Engagement Artist Residency and Creative Optimism-Uplifting Promises Grants


NEAR $12,000
CO-UP $15,000


Department of Cultural Affairs


2024 Deadlines TBD




Email Grants Division


The Neighborhood Engagement Artist Residency (NEARGrant Program, supports freelance teaching artists, social-activation artists, and social practice artists in providing community-based, participatory projects in self-selected non-arts venues within the City of Los Angeles. Competitive NEAR projects will gather, connect, and inspire participants and audiences who have little exposure to the proposed type of cultural opportunity. NEAR artist in residencies can be five sessions ending in one public presentation or eleven sessions ending in one public presentation. The majority will take place within non-art non-profit agencies, although projects in non-arts for-profit businesses can also be eligible if these partner/host venues are appropriate and accessible to the general community. NEAR applicants that propose 11 workshops as the ideal duration for their community engagement, should also be prepared to scale back to 5 workshops (DCA staff will notify NEAR applicants next May about whether the City budget provided for either a $12,000 or $6,000 contract)

The Creative Optimism – Uplifting Promises (CO-UP) Grant Program supports collaborations between any nonprofit social justice organization and a creative teaching artist (a freelance artist or an artist already working within a non-profit arts organization in the same community as the social justice organization). In some cases, a third partner, acting as a host site for the project may also be named. In the case of a freelance artist being enrolled to lead a new project at a social justice organization, the non-profit social justice organization should be the applicant. In the case of a social justice non-profit and a lead artist from an arts nonprofit working together on a new partnership, either nonprofit can be the applicant (depending on which organization will act as the employer of the teaching artist. Eligible collaborative projects should be: 1) new or launched within the past four years, 2) free or low cost for participants, and 3) culminate in at least one free public presentation that will be accessible to the general community (both in-person and on-line presentations are eligible conclusions for a DCA CO-UP grant). CO-UP residences should be eleven sessions ending in one public presentation. CO-UP residencies are funded at $15,000 with $12,000 allocated for artist payment and $3,000 allocated for the social justice organization’s administrative expenses. Proposals for CO-UP that are given a fundable score of higher than 75 out of 100 points, but unable to be fully funded at $15,000, may be converted to a NEAR project of 5 workshops and one culminating event with a budget of $6,000 (DCA staff will notify CO-UP applicants next May about whether the City budget provided for either a $15,000 or $6,000 contract)

Depending upon its budget for FY24-25, DCA aims to support approximately 15-22 residences at either $6,000 or $12,000 (ideally one for each of the city’s 15 Council districts) and an additional 10-15 CO-UP residencies at $15,000 each.

DCA defines a social justice organization as any social service nonprofit organization that has a board-approved and publicly printed/repeated mission statement that names a primary cause for equality (which can be: cultural, economic, environmental, immigration, healthcare, or housing based); as well as a history of both advocacy to rebalance public policies, and community-based programs to address the same historic/current inequity. Religious, political and legal nonprofits are not eligible under this definition. Likewise, nonprofits that are statewide, national, or international in scale are not eligible at this time, because the pilot years of both the NEAR and CO-UP categories are aimed at local neighborhood and community impact. Arts-based nonprofits should apply directly to DCA’s Cultural Grant Program category each August and should not be the primary applicant of a CO-UP proposal (although arts organizations in LA County may partner by lending an employee with expertise to collaborate with a social justice organization-applicant headquartered in the City of LA).


  • Supply creative arts resources to neighborhood host/partner organizations in each Council District by providing direct and intimate access to contemporary teaching-artists;
  • Support projects that will consistently engage no less than 20 participants on some topic of thematic learning, and the group will culminate their workshops by staging a final presentation to be viewed by no less than 40 other individuals.
  • Sponsor the implementation of educational-participatory 6 or 12-session residencies by a spectrum of the City’s most qualified teaching-artists; and,
  • Provide host organizations offering little or no arts programming with opportunities to test or develop new services, and envision the integration of either an artist-employee, a new branch of programs into its core service, or a new collaboration with a local arts-organization.

Successful applicants:

  • For a NEAR artist residency, applicant teaching-artists (or collaborative duos/teams/ensembles under the leadership of a single applicant) must be freelance entrepreneurs with community-based practices that have been largely self-developed and remain primarily self-directed;
  • For a CO-UP artist residency, DCA encourages the social justice organization to submit the application to provide a residency for the teaching-artist named in the proposal. If the teaching artist is an employee (part-time or seasonal) of a local non-profit arts organization, then either non-profit can be the primary applicant. In either case, the workshops led by the artist should employ methodologies the artist has mastered to launch or sustain a partnership that benefits the 20 (or more) clients gathered and enrolled by the social justice organization. CO-UP applicants should have an organization operating budget of at least $100,000 and no more than $1 million, as demonstrated by the applicant’s most recently filed IRS Form 990;
  • All applicants (whether individual or nonprofit must either reside in or be headquartered in Los Angeles County and all proposed projects must take place and culminate within the City of LA;
  • Teaching artists should demonstrate through their resume(s) at least 2 years of experience instructing participants in the proposed artistic discipline within projects at non-arts venues, public schools, parks, libraries, and/or similar community centers;
  • NEAR applicants will propose a residency involving a relationship with one (1) non-arts host organization, to take place at the same host organization’s location; and
  • propose feasible projects that can be consistently attended by approximately 20 individuals.


A series of online webinar workshops will be available in early to mid-October. Webinar space is limited to 30 participants per webinar, and RSVPs are required at least two business days in advance.
Workshops/webinars link:


  • Opens Friday, September 22, 2023
  • Deadline to apply is November 6, 2023
  • Grant activity/projects will take place between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025.
  • May/June 2024: Applicants will receive notification of results


For full program information, please review the program guidelines available at: After you have reviewed the guidelines, please proceed to prepare and submit an application at:

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