What are the returns on a $1 million investment in the arts? Here are a few examples of the more than 95 grants that were delivered in 2021.

Another year of Cultural Grants wraps up in 2021 with more than $1 million invested to support arts, nonprofits and the arts community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts community has just barely stayed afloat being hit particularly hard by social distancing, mandates, and new guidelines. Museums and theaters lost revenue during restrictions, festivals and events have been canceled or postponed, and professional artists have lost gigs and contracts. Boulder City Council and the Arts Commission have responded, mobilizing flexible funding through the Cultural Grants Program to make sure that the arts can emerge from these tough times stronger and more creative than ever. Below are a few examples of the more than 95 grants that were delivered this year.

KGNU Mardi Gras

The Cultural Grants Program offers a General Operating Support (GOS) grant, providing funds for the operation of nonprofits and community organizations, like the independent community radio station KGNU. Their GOS grant supports reporting on arts and cultural shows. One example of keeping our city connected to the arts through the use of community radio. The GOS grants have a great deal of autonomy which allows the grantee to use the funds for their most pressing needs.


Another recipient of GOS funds is the national award-winning Butterfly Effect Theater Company. Bringing Boulder the most powerful, engaging, top-quality performances and programs, with meaning full impacts beyond the stage. Aside from the quality of their productions, the theater company is an employer of talented actors, playwrights, and technical staff. This year they are deploying that talent in “Science Shorts”, a program pairing playwrights with researchers on issues of environmental science.

Boulder Metalsmithing Class

The Boulder Metalsmithing Association was among those organizations that had to close their doors completely during the pandemic restrictions. Now back to business, this premier jewelry making and metal arts school in the NoBo Art District is again offering classes, demos, and studio hours all thanks to the GOS grant.

Sans Souci This Breath Together 2

The Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema held their first event in 2003 with movies projected on the side of a trailer in the Sans Souci Mobile Home Park. For the past two years, the festival got creative with online events and drive-in movies. The films got rolling again in 2021 with the usual cinematic events along with performances from Boulder dancers and dance organizations.

Stitching the Situation // Bordemos la Situación

The Arts Commission also distributed project grants this year, helping artists and organizations launch innovative, enriching new events and works of art. Artist Heather Schulte used her project grant for “Bordemos la Situacion / Stitching the Situation”. This community project created a textile that gives a visual representation of our experience with COVID-19. The cross-stitch artwork represents case numbers of the illness in blue stitches and deaths in red.

This is not Miller Black Lives Matter

Critical to granting Cultural Grants is finding projects that can address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Among these grants is the remarkable “This is [Not] Who We Are”, an upcoming documentary film that explores “the gap between Boulder’s progressive self-image and the more complex lived experiences of its Black citizens.”

Savannah Ducharm Botanical Workshop

Artist Savannah Ducharm benefited from the Professional Development Scholarships that the Arts Commission distributed this year. She attended the Berlin Drawing School’s online workshop. In addition to professional development, the Cultural Grants Program also offers special funds to support things like renting a venue and the costs and materials of hosting an online event.

  • Photo 1: KNGU. “The Gnu Prom” held for High School students. May 6, 2020. Photo credit: Sarah Shirazi
  • Photo 2: Boulder Ensemble Theater Company. Kate Parkin, Peter Bussian, Justin Walvoord, and Megan Van De Hey in BETC's production of Steven Dietz’s Bloomsday. Photo credit: Michael Ensminger
  • Photo 3: Boulder Metalsmithing Association. Technique Intensive Class with local instructor Chapin Dimond, August 5, 2020. Photo credit: BoMA
  • Photo 4: Sans Souci Dance Festival, tap dancer Marla Schultz performing in Sans Souci Festival’s Community Dance Film project at Red Rocks Trail, overlooking the city of Boulder. Photo credit Jun Akiyama.
  • Photo 5: Heather Schulte. Stitching the Situation // Bordemos la Situación. Photo credit Brad Haynes.
  • Photo 6: Still from Landlocked Films, "This is [Not] Who We Are" documentary film.
  • Photo 7: Artwork by Savannah Ducharm.