New City of Sacramento grant aims to assist ‘creative venues’

Harlow’s owner Jim Cornett is also the co-director of the California Capitol Venue Coalition, which aims to keep more indie venues open. (Photo by Keyshawn Davis)

By Jenelle Lum

As the Sacramento creative arts community looks for new ways to attract patrons to their work and businesses, the City of Sacramento is offering a Creative Venues Grant to help achieve that goal. 

After receiving funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City of Sacramento’s Office of Arts and Culture recently launched its 2024-25 Creative Venues Grant for places like independent and for-profit art studios and galleries, bookstores, music venues and comedy clubs. 

The grants are separated into three different amounts — $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000 — based on the area it is located in and type of business. 

The $10,000 and $25,000 grants are considered Venue Recovery Grants, which are awards for projects that can be completed and provide a “tangible” income within a 12-month timeframe, according to the Creative Venues Grant guidelines. The $5,000 Rapid Response Grants will give businesses two opportunities to apply, but can only be awarded one grant per establishment. The Rapid Response Grants are intended for businesses who are able to complete a project within a six-month timeframe.

Examples of projects include: website development and maintenance, marketing and communications, ticketing systems, event permits and security fees, rent and insurance costs and payments to artists, according to the grant guidelines.

“We see a value in supporting the for-profit creative venues because that is where the action is happening,” said Melissa Cirone, the city’s grants and programs manager for the Office of Arts and Culture. “In addition to the nonprofits, that’s where we’re seeing a lot of creative activity.”   

Ten Venue Recovery Grants of $25,000 will be awarded to live music, performance and comedy venues, and 19 Venue Recovery Grants of $10,000 will be awarded to independent bookstores and art galleries in communities with the most need geographically; two awards of $5,000 will be used for Rapid Response Grants, according to Cirone. 

Cirone said that the city’s goal is to attract more Sacramento residents to these venues and generate income for both the venues and nearby restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, hotels and cafes. 

“We feel like that’s going to give a boost to the entire economy of these communities,” Cirone said. 

Alex Torres, a policy adviser for the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm, said he began advocating with and on behalf of the California Capitol Venue Coalition for the grant program for at least a year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Torres, a Sacramento native, said he is a big music fan and was motivated to help venues fight to keep local indie spaces thriving and to help promote artists. He partnered with Jim Cornett, the owner of Harlow’s in Sacramento and the co-director of the Capitol Venue Coalition, to offer his advice for various policies and proposals for these establishments.  

“I have always been a fan of Harlow’s and read an article about the struggle independent music venues were under during COVID and the formation of the CCVC and reached out to offer my expertise to support the cause,” Torres said.

The Creative Venues grants will be reviewed by a diverse group of panelists, according to Cirone. She said that there will be an even mix of workers from the City of Sacramento as well as panelists from outside Sacramento. 

Cirone said that an internal city panel will review Rapid Response applications to see if businesses qualify, then for the larger grants, they will recruit peer panels that consist of one or two city workers and mainly include panelists from other cities. By doing this, Cirone said it eliminates the chance of conflicts of interest and gives a fair chance to every venue or business that decides to apply for these grants. 

The deadline for the Rapid Response Grant is July 8 and the Creative Venues Recovery Grant is July 19. 

“Without these stages, the artists have no platform,” Torres said, noting the intended impact of the grant program. “Without the artists, the stage is just an empty stage.”  

This story was funded by the City of Sacramento’s Arts and Creative Economy Journalism Grant to Solving Sacramento. Following our journalism code of ethics and protocols, the city had no editorial influence over this story and no city official reviewed this story before it was published. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.

Be the first to comment on "New City of Sacramento grant aims to assist ‘creative venues’"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.