Denver Music Advancement Fund

Denver Children’s Choir Neighborhood Choir Program

Levitt Pavilion Band Start

Levitt Pavilion Band Start

My Youth on Record Podcast- The Past, Present, Future of the Colorado Sound


Launched in 2018 with collective investment from Denver Arts & Venues and partners at Illegal Pete’s and LivWell Enlightened Health in 2018, and funding from Denver Arts & Venues and Illegal Pete's in 2019, the Denver Music Advancement Fund has provided $200,000 to support initiatives that advance the Denver Music Strategy and IMAGINE 2020 cultural plan. This fund demonstrates long-term financial and partnership opportunities to ensure that music continues to drive economic vibrancy, create a more resilient and connected city, and catalyze reinvestment in the community.

Through over a decade of cultivating best practices with local, regional and global partners, extensive stakeholder engagement, and more than 90 interviews with community members, this fund was created as a means to acknowledge the vital role music plays as an agent for economic vibrancy, education, community innovations and positive social change.

Program Funding

From 2018-2019, Denver Music Advancement Fund awarded $200,000 through 53 grants to organizations in support of Denver’s music ecosystem, including musicians and leaders in businesses, government, nonprofits, and educational institutions to advance music-centric initiatives that advance music through the following core areas:

  • Integration - Increase creative activities and participation in daily life
  • Amplification – Celebrate history, emerging art forms and maximizing partnerships beyond Denver
  • Accessibility – Achieve inclusivity of cultural offerings for all
  • Lifelong Learning – Increase exposure, appreciation and participation through lifelong education
  • Nurturing Local Talent – Cultivate and build Denver’s diverse creative professionals
  • Economic Vitality – Fuel creatives as an essential component of Denver’s thriving economy
  • Collective Leadership – Lead cultural development through shared commitment, resources and cross-sector partnerships


Stay tuned for information for the next grant cycle.

Proposal Requirements

  • Advance new music-centric programs or initiatives
  • Provide fair pay for artists
  • Take place in the calendar years 2020-2021
  • Have a project leader that will initiate, plan, implement and track impact of the program
  • Demonstrate a 1:1 match or more of resources, including volunteer labor (valued at $20/hour), donated materials, professional services or cash (match does not need to be confirmed at the time of application)
  • Ensure diversity, equity, inclusiveness and accessibility

Eligible Applicants

Applicants can be individuals, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit or community leaders located in the City and County of Denver.

Entities outside of the City and County of Denver are encouraged to participate through collaborative partnerships with Denver-based individuals, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit or community leaders, or may define specific programming for City and County of Denver residents.

Ideal Eligible Proposals

  • Increase advocacy, impact and contributions to a more empathetic and equitable society through music
  • Indicate and encourage creative collaborations that transcend discipline boundaries
  • Explore a broad range of musical genres
  • Engage broad and diverse communities, especially youth
  • Provide student-centered and culturally-relevant instruments and instruction to Denver schools that offer limited or no music education
  • Leverage additional funding resources to support sustainable growth in the field
  • Have potential for significant artistic and cultural impact on a community
  • Reflect the applicant’s unique interpretation of music advancement
  • Support career growth and capacity-building
  • Show artistic strength, vision, originality and professional capabilities
  • Explore global and culturally diverse connections
  • Understand the professional and creative landscape of the music ecosystem
  • Take risks and articulate an original vision
  • Devise and test new ideas to address emergency preparedness and planning

Eligible Expenses

The Denver Music Advancement Fund may be used to cover expenses directly related to the initiative such as:

  • Program development
  • Supplies and materials
  • Implementation
  • Personnel

Ineligible Projects and Expenses

Activities that are not tied directly to program objectives including:

  • Programs or projects that have restricted participation or public access based on race, gender variance, creed, origin, age or ability
  • Expenses incurred outside of the funding period
  • Maintenance, operation or retroactive funding of existing projects
  • Debt or loan repayment
  • Fundraising activities
  • General organization or business operating expenses
  • Academic degrees or certificate programs
  • Cash reserves and endowments
  • Political campaigns or legislative issues
  • Food and beverage

Selection Review Criteria

The Denver Music Advisory Panel and representatives of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, with support of Denver Arts & Venues staff, will review all proposals and recommend a slate of grantees that show strength in relation to the following factors and criteria:

  • Relevance: Clear explanation of how the project or program incorporates the current music ecosystem and goals of the Denver Music Strategy and the IMAGINE 2020 cultural plan
  • Collaboration: Indication of how the project or program will encourage partnerships among diverse entities and show collective leadership and community buy-in
  • Program Impact: Evaluation methods, both qualitative and quantitative, showing the impact on the community and anticipated goals for the project or program
  • Creativity and Artistic Merit: Innovation and definition of goals and demonstration of artistic excellence
  • Leverage: Appropriateness of the program budget and opportunity for sustainability

Project Evaluation

Denver Music Advancement Fund recipients will be required to provide a project evaluation that includes project documentation (summary, photographs, video), related press, an assessment of whether the fund’s objectives were met, and the project’s successes and challenges. 

Considerations for Proposals

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Denver Arts & Venues is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all programs, initiatives and decision-making processes. Proposed initiatives must support these values.
  • Accessibility: Applicants should consider how their programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  These standards are based on the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and can be found at Assistance can also be found by contacting the Denver Office of Disability Rights, 720-913-8485

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness Survey

As part of the application process, you will receive a request to participate in a survey that tracks demographic information. In an effort to ensure that all communities have access to arts, cultural and creative opportunities, Denver Arts & Venues is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in all our programs, initiatives and processes. Your application process will be final once you complete the survey. We thank you in advance for your participation.

Denver Music Advancement Fund Staff:

Lisa Gedgaudas, Program Administrator, Create Denver
[email protected]

Denver Music Advisory Panel & Review Committee

Amy Martinson, Music Instructional Curriculum Specialist, Denver Public Schools
Andrea Viarrial-Murphy, Director of Visibility and Operations, Youth on Record
Bryce Merrill, Music Programs Manager, Bohemian Foundation
Elysha Zaide, musician, ill-esha; music producer; community educator
Jamaal Curry, musician, Boss Eagle
Janae De La Virgen, Administrative Assistant, Western States Arts Federation
Jonathan Kelley, filmmaker and music producer, T.H.I.N.C. INC.
Matthew Kowal, Founder and President, Majestic Collaboration; Emergency Preparedness Consultant, Performing Arts Readiness
Michael Seman, Assistant Professor, Arts Management at LEAP Institute for the Arts, Colorado State University
Nikki Swarn, Content/Program Director, The Drop, KUVO
Pete Turner, Founder and Owner, Illegal Pete’s
René Moffatt, Owner, Wolftung Creative; songwriter
Ru Johnson, Founder and Director, Roux Black Consulting; music promoter
Serafin Sanchez, Brand Manager, Ableton Inc.
Stephen Brackett, musician, FLOBOTS; Commissioner, Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs
Storm Gloor, Associate Professor, Music and Entertainment Industry Studies, University of Colorado Denver
Taylor Tschida, Program Manager, Colorado Creative Industries
Thadeaous Mighell, Programs Manager, Museum of Contemporary Art; curator, Understudy