In an effort to encourage cultural celebrations and foster festival culture, Oakland will distribute $234,500 in funds to local nonprofits hosting community events next year. The application period is open from Dec. 1 to Jan. 13.

“After more than 18 months of pandemic restrictions, Oaklanders are eager to safely gather at cultural celebrations and festivals,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “These grants will support event organizers whose programs lift up communities impacted by racial or economic disparities.”

Oakland-based event planners can receive up to $20,000 from the city’s Cultural Funding Grant Program for free, in-person events held between January and June of 2022. Events can range from first-time occasions to established festivals that host cultural practices, theatre and dance performances, art exhibits and more, so long as they are “rooted in a sense of place,” according to application guidelines.

Recipients must also have a 1:1 match in funding to the city grant funds they receive.

The hope for the Neighborhood Voices for Festivals grant program is to develop a sense of belonging and lift the spirits of community members, city officials said in a news release.

“This grant opportunity seeks to affirm the expression, recognition and understanding of the array of diverse communities that make Oakland unique and vibrant,” said Alexa Jeffress, director of the city’s Economic & Workforce Development Department.

A competitive panel selected by the city’s Cultural Affairs Division program organizers will determine award recipients and monetary amounts. Panel members will prioritize programs that are led by and geared towards communities affected by racial disparities.

The Funding Advisory Committee and City Council will review grant recommendations before awards are distributed.

Grant applicants are encouraged to attend one of the two free how-to-apply webinars, which are scheduled on Dec. 2 and Dec. 8. Attendees can RSVP to receive a Zoom link.