photo of theatre building
The Village Theatre's Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah is a recipient of a Building for the Arts grant for the FY 2021-23 biennium. Photo courtesy of ArtsFund.

Building for the Arts

Building for the Arts (BFA) is a program that awards state grants to nonprofit community-based organizations to buy, build or renovate arts and cultural facilities. It is managed by the Washington State Department of Commerce. For the current biennium, these capital project grants can cover up to 20% of the total costs for construction.

The maximum grant award for the current biennium is $2,000,000. There is no minimum grant award amount. The BFA program operates on a biennial (two-year) grant cycle. The application cycle for the next biennium (2023-25) will open mid-2022.

Who Can Apply for the Grant?

Applicants must meet these requirements when they submit their application:

  • Be a tribe or registered nonprofit organization in the state of Washington
  • Have binding control of the project site, either by owning it or having a long-term lease (at least 15 years from application date). Operating agreements are not eligible
  • Have a legally constituted board of directors
  • Agree to LEED certification for the project (or file an exemption)
  • Agree to pay state prevailing wages for project labor
  • Have either secured all non-state funding for the project OR have made substantial progress in a capital fundraising campaign

What types of projects are eligible for this grant?

Eligible projects must be arts related. They must include construction or renovation of facilities, or the purchase of bare land to build a facility. The facilities must focus on arts-related activities. This is defined as the active interpretation, performance or exhibition of aesthetic traditions, practices or works of art that characterize cultural values.

How does the process work?

ArtsWA will work with organizations in the early stages of the process to help them determine if they are ready to pursue this opportunity There are six steps in getting a Building for the Arts grant.

  1. Decide whether you are eligible and ready to apply
  2. Decide whether to seek LEED certification or exemption
  3. Complete your application online
  4. Application review by a citizens advisory board
  5. Negotiate a contract
  6. Submit reimbursement materials

You can learn more about the steps in the process here.

Program History

The program was created in 1991 by The Boeing Company and its purpose is to help direct state funds to arts and culture capital projects in Washington State. Soon after, the legislature appointed the Department of Commerce as the program administrator. The program is funded entirely through the sale of state bonds and does not involve federal funds. Since it began, BFA has provided $129 million in grants to over 262 capital projects. ArtsWA is working in partnership with the Dept. of Commerce to promote the program and ensure equity in funding across the state.

For more information about Building for the Arts, please contact: Annette Roth, Community Development Manager, at 360-252-9982 or