Yenedit Valencia dances the Jarabe Mixteco. Photo: Crystal Murrillo/ACTA.

Living Cultures Grant

Supporting the creativity of cultural communities


Julián Antonio Carrillo (San Francisco Office), Program Manager,, 915.345.6162

The Living Cultures Grant Program seeks to sustain and strengthen traditional arts in the state of California with grants of $5,000 to California-based nonprofits and tribal entities, as well as other organizations who work with fiscal sponsors. Projects involving any genre of traditional artincluding but not limited to dance, music, foodways, material arts, and oral traditions—are welcome.

Applications for the 2021 Living Cultures grant cycle will open on October 1, 2020.

The Living Cultures Grant Program was developed in 2004 to provide project grants to California’s diverse cultural communities. The Living Cultures grant helps cultural groups and non-profit organizations throughout the state realize community-based projects aimed at strengthening a sense of place, fostering traditional creativity, and ensuring cultural continuity.

ACTA makes it possible for us to live our dreams.” 
—Tsering Wangmo, Chaksam-pa Tibetan Dance & Opera Company, 2019 Living Cultures grantee

Through this grant program, ACTA supports artistic development, community engagement, personal wellbeing, collective energy, and the conservation of culture and history throughout California.

A 2008 Living Cultures grant supported the preparation, practice, and implementation of the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians' traditional songs and dances by their then newly-formed dance group. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

In 2017 ACTA funded the annual Lavagem festival organized by BrasArte, a nonprofit dedicated to the music and dance traditions of Brazil. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

Tagalog language classes by the Sama Sama Cooperative, a 2016 Living Cultures grantee. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

in 2009 the indigenous art cooperative Coyote's Paw applied Living Cultures funds to lead workshops in the construction of traditional sinew-backed bows. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

The Ukrainian Art Center of Los Angeles received funding in 2019 to produce workshops in traditional regional arts including pysanky, or egg-decorating. Photo: Timo Saarelma.

2011 Living Culture grantee organization Movimiento Cultural de la Union Indigena conducted a series of workshops in traditional music and weaving for the Triqui community of Salinas. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

The 2010 Japanese Cultural Fair in Santa Cruz, supported by Living Cultures funds. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

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Applications for the 2021 grant cycle Will open October 1, 2020.

Watch this space for updates and application information.



Living Cultures applications open annually in the spring and close late summer. Specific dates are announced on our website once application is open. ACTA staff will also offer informational webinars during the application period and be available to answer questions by phone or email. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the most up to date info.


ACTA staff review submitted applications for eligibility in the summer and early fall. Eligible applications go forward to an external review panel in the fall. Applications recommended for funding are approved by ACTA’s Board in the late fall.


All applicants will be notified if they received the Living Cultures grant by January.

1. Comunidad Anqari-SF Carnaval 2

Learn about the 2020 Grant Recipients

in 2020, ACTA awarded a total of $205,000 to 41 organizations to support their traditional arts projects. Click to see details of the 2020 grantees.

What We Fund

Pathways to nurture, sustain, and engage participation in traditional arts

REACH LA is a Living Cultures grantee org serving African-American and Latino gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Photo by Abel Gutierrez.

Cultural continuity of traditional arts practices:

  • Workshops and gatherings (for example, events that bring together artists, cultural specialists or community leaders to share skills and information or to engage in discussion and problem solving)
  • Conservation, creation, or acquisition of important traditional arts items
  • Intergenerational classes or other educational programs within a community (after-school youth programs, dance ensemble classes or practices, summer programs, etc.)
  • Other kinds of mentorships with “culture bearers,” honoraria, travel costs within CA., etc. By “culture bearer” we mean a person who is recognized for their skills and knowledge in a particular traditional expression. (Please note that intensive, one-on-one artistic mentorships should apply to ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program instead.)
  • Endangered language conservation and revitalization projects when carried out within the context of traditional art forms
  • Other types of activities and projects that lead to cultural continuity of traditional arts practices

Sustaining future arts practices with needed purchases, services, or acquiring new skills

  • Equipment and materials purchases (instruments, media equipment, costumes or regalia, etc.)
  • Documentation of traditional arts,  skills,  ceremony, beliefs, or performances
  • An investment to result in future revenues (fee for services for marketing consultation, website development, financial planning, etc.)
  • Learning new skills by supporting mentorships with advisors or cultural specialists
  • Other types of activities and projects that lead to long-term sustainability of traditional arts practices

Engaging and strengthening our own communities as well as engaging with others

  • Public presentations, such as community-based concerts, festivals, and exhibitions that foster active participation
  • Other types of activities and projects that lead to active participation in traditional arts practices within and between cultural communities


  • Watch a webinar about applying to the Apprenticeship + Living Cultures funding opportunities.
  • Browse previous organizations who have received funding from ACTA.


The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the statewide partner to the California Arts Council in serving the state’s folk and traditional arts field. The Living Cultures Grant Program is a program of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) in partnership with the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

Invest in California’s cultural wealth.

Every gift is a commitment to a culture bearer, and the people of California.