Art of Recovery

Pilot project implemented for Art of Recovery, a Molly Allis K-rail mural on Main Street

Initiative of
Cultural Affairs

As part of the City of Santa Monica’s Economic Recovery Task Force, Cultural Affairs launched Art of Recovery. This grant program harnesses the arts to play a major role in recovery efforts while highlighting Santa Monica as a place of culture and unique experiences. Inspired by the WPA-era’s Federal Art Project, this initiative puts artists to work to implement projects that will strengthen and connect Santa Monica. Art of Recovery focuses on three main priorities: economic recovery, community connectedness & restorative justice, and public health & safety.

Project Map

View these projects on the Public Art Archive



Q: What is the deadline to submit the Letter of Intent?

Submissions received by Thursday, April 15, will be reviewed and considered for the current cycle, which runs through June 30, 2021. We anticipate that submissions received after April 15 will be reviewed this summer, after the year two Art of Recovery budget has been finalized.

Q: How do you submit additional material such as photos, a PowerPoint presentation, or PDF?  

You can upload your photos/other attachments to the cloud via weshare, Dropbox, Google Drive, or another online folder, and include the link/s in your application. Instagram URLs will also be accepted.

Q: Can we submit a design along with our pitch? 

Yes, there are multiple places within the document where you can put links to URLs that point to cloud-based documents or presentations.  

Q: Can we submit multiple LOIs (Letters of Intent) at once even though only one may be picked to move forward with?


Q:  If there is no present website for the artist, is it possible to submit images in an email?

If it’s possible, upload and share photos to Google Drive or another online folder, so we have it all in one place for our review panel. We also will accept Instagram URLs. If you have technical difficulties with how you might do this, just reach out and we can help you.

Q: Is this first round primarily for visual arts given current restrictions on performance?

We imagine it will be, given the restricitions – most of the things that will be allowed will be public art – art in the public sphere. However, there are creative approaches performing artists have come up with; in a Seattle dance performance involved participants receiving a driving map to point them to performances at different locations throughout the City. Art that involves roving artists and/or audiences is most likely okay, but art that generates a crowd, or any type of gathering, is not allowed

Q: Can we sign up as a team? A group of two or more?


Q: After submittal, what is your estimated timing to hear back on LOI regarding : advancing to the next step of consideration? 

For submissions received by April 15, you will hear back within a month. For submissions recived after April 15, you will hear back sometime this summer. 

Q: What are the themes of art you are looking for and can they be separate ideas from the pandemic?

We have three themes: economic recovery, community connectedness & restorative justice, and public health & safety. The content doesn’t necessarily need to be about the pandemic, but the proposal should address one of the three main recovery needs.

Q: Would a virtual chamber music concert (to be held via Zoom) be a viable project to submit an LOI for? 

Yes,  but applications that articulate the connection to the priority areas will be most competitive. When developing your proposal, think about who you might partner with in one of the areas to expand the impact of it to meet recovery goals.

Q: I’ve been using a video of my art instead of a website will you accept that to view a portfolio of paintings?


Q: The three themes seem very abstract and broad; can you give specific or succinct examples?

There are examples in the guidelines, but for projects that help with economic recovery, it could be art to attract people to businesses, such as an artist-designed scavenger hunt that drives people to local businesses. For community connectedness, and restorative justice, it could be a story telling project in a community or neighborhood.For public health messaging it could be artist designed “wear a mask” designs that could go up in public spaces. 

Q: Can I submit an individual proposal for my own work and a proposal as part of a collective project? 

Yes, there would need to be different lead applicants for each in order for both to be eligible for funding at the same time. Lead applicants can only have one funded project at a time.

Q: Is the timeline for future rounds known yet?

No, but we are increasingly thinking therwill be a quarterly submission process. 

Q: If you have multiple ideas should they be submitted separately?

Yes, submit them separately.

Q: The website says projects chosen must commence by December - does that mean the public showing must have commenced or just the behind-the-scenes development?

It depends on the scale of the project, but we would essentially want it to be ready to get going by December 1st. Things take a lot longer these days, and we are flexible if timelines shift during this time. Basically, we are trying to avoid reviewing proposals for projects that would take place in the Spring or Early Summer, as the Public Health guidelines are constantly shifting and we do not know what the rules will be at that time.

Q: Does the duration of the project matter? Should each project endure more than two months? 

We are agnostic on this. It can be short/long, we anticipate there will be a mix.

Q: What is the makeup of the grant panel?

The grant panel will be the comprised of members of the subcommittee of the economic task force who have been advising on the project. It includes a mix of city leaders, Arts Commissioners, artists and arts administrators.

Q: As a goal is to develop and strengthen networks, do individual artist projects qualify?

Individual artist projects qualify.  Strong applications will include aspects that engage the community and audiences in a way thato strengthens connections.

Q: Is it possible to be awarded an individual project and be named as an artist for another submitter’s proposal with a school, for example? 

       Yes, artists are so interconnected; artists can have their own practice, but be part of other networksJust be sure that the artist isn’t the lead applicant on both.


Q: If the project is an outdoor installation, how do we comply with LADPH guidelines to avoid gatherings? 

      Temporary artworks and installations are permitted under the guidelines. Time-based art or events associated with the art would not be allowed. 

Q: Regarding the health guidelines of ‘no gatherings’: would artist-led install teams of up to six well-spaced and masked community volunteers be ok? 


Q: Would this project be open to tile muralists? 

     All sorts of art and art forms are welcome and encouraged. 

Q: Is virtual space acceptable as a space? 


Q: How soon could the project we propose in the LOI take place? Is late September as the time frame for a proposed virtual event to take place too soon? 

     It depends what planning is involved with it, but late September may be feasible depending on the scale of the project 

Q: Would establishing a public archive or website as part of a larger community engagement project be an appropriate proposal? 


Q: Can the artwork be in a business? 

     The artwork needs to be publicly accessible, so if the business is currently open to the public, then yes. 

Q: What advertising for events will the City provide? 

     Cultural Affairs will be marketing the projects through our Art of Recovery webpage as well as social channels. The City will also promote through a variety of its      communications channels, as well. 

Q: Who will own the finished art? The City? 

     It’s going to depend on what the art is and what the proposal is. To use the example from the pilot projects, the artists would not retain the finished pieces because the pieces will be worn out, and the city owns the K-Rails. It will depend highly on what the art is and what the artists desire is with regard to ownership. 


Q: Can we sign up as a team? A group of two or more? 

Q: You mentioned City Departments; are civic departments possible partners for an artist? 

     Potentially, yes. It would need to be an agreement with all parties, which would be the case with any of the matchmaking that we do, we wouldn’t force groups together that are not interested in working together. 

Q: Will there be a list of available spaces and venues, or do we have to try to find project locations on our own? 

     We have been working to compile a list. If you have an idea of where you’d like to do your work or what type of space you’re looking for, we can try to connect you with the appropriate space. There is a space to indicate this in the application form. Sites such as The Promenade, the Pier, and Business Districts have all expressed interest in hosting projects. If you have specific questions about specific spaces, feel free to reach out to us. 

Q: Are you connected with social services and activist organizations in the community? 

     We work with the City’s Housing and Human Services Division and can help facilitate connections to those types of entities. 

Q: Can a project collaborate with, or work with a group of children? 

     As long as it meets the public health guidelines, yes. This is such a hard time for children, anything that uses arts and creativity to help them cope and feel positive– that’s really important. 

Q: Have you gotten any specific requests from local businesses or departments for projects? 

     Not necessarily. We’ve been in touch with some of the business districts about ideas they have that artists may be able to do in their spaces. We know there are businesses that are very interested in hosting artistic works at their locations. 

Q: Is there a drive-in movie venue planned? 

     We’ve been working for months on a process to do drive-in movies here in Santa Monica. We will continue to work on it and hopefully will have something soon. 


Q: If our LOI is chosen would we get a deposit to start the project or do we pay for everything ourselves? 

     You will get a percentage that is over 50% at the beginning, and the remaining amount once the project is completed. The purpose of this project is to pay artists for their work not put an undue burden on them. 

Q: How many projects will be picked overall? 

     We don’t have a fixed number at this time. We have a budget of $500K to last through June 30, 2021. If every project was fully funded at $20K, that would equal 25 projects, though we don’t anticipate that all of them will be up to the maximum amount of $20K. We want to have a range of different scales of projects. We will be holding back funds for future cycles so that projects are supported throughout the year. 

Q: What was the budget for the pilot examples of ground stickers and K-Rails? 

     For our pilots the K-Rail project was around $3,000. The artist-designed physical distancing was $6,500, including fabrication, installation and translation. 

Q: Is there a maximum budget for projects submitted? 

     Awards will be up to $20,000. 

Q: Will matching funds be required for grants? 

     No, they are not required. While we encourage additional investments if you can secure them, they are not required. 

Q: Would you assist in helping artist acquire additional funds if needed beyond the grant?  If it were an ongoing/long term project? 

     Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to help artists fundraise.