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, the Denver Music Advancement Fund has now provided $275,000  to support initiatives that advance the Denver Music Strategy and IMAGINE 2020, Denver’s cultural plan. The goal of this fund is to ensure that music continues to drive economic vibrancy, builds a more resilient, equitable and connected city, and creates positive social change through music-centered programs. 

In 2020, Denver Arts & Venues is matching funding from Illegal Pete’s, and our NEW partner, Take Note Colorado to provide a total of $75,000 towards these grants.

As we respond to the COVID-19 health crisis and address racial inequities in our city, this fund continues to provide a platform to elevate the vital role music can play in addressing community needs and social justice.

Program Funding

Since 2018, the Denver Music Advancement Fund has awarded 53 grants to benefit a broad diversity of communities including youth, people with disabilities, older adults, communities of color, and such areas of focus as mental health and education. All programs have supported the seven vision elements of IMAGINE 2020:

  • Integration - Increase creative activities and participation in daily life
  • Amplification – Celebrate our cultural history, emerging art forms and authentic partnerships in Denver and beyond
  • 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


2018: Arts & Venues, Illegal Pete’s, LivWell Enlightened Health
2019: Arts & Venues, Illegal Pete’s
2020: Arts & Venues, Illegal Pete’s, Take Note Colorado

Proposal Requirements

  • Advance a music-centric program or initiative
  • Provide fair pay for all artists
  • Take place in the calendar years 2020-2021
  • Have a project leader who will initiate, plan, implement and track impact of the program
  • Track all volunteer labor (valued at $20/hour), donated materials, professional services or other cash contributions
  • Support diversity, equity, inclusion and access throughout the program

Funding during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Safety is paramount, and due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, applicants must also address how programs will be executed following state and local public health guidelines. We will work with grantees on their program as the landscape continues to shift. Virtual programs should explain the technology needed for online programs, as well as audience access to these programs. In-person activities must adherer to  public health guidelines and proposals must outline how activities will be adjusted if more restrictive public health orders are mandated during the implementation of the program. Please reference your county’s health orders. 

Eligible Applicants

Applicants can be individuals, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit or community organizations 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 applicants, or may apply if their programming supports City and County of Denver residents.

Ideal Eligible Proposals

  • Responds to current COVID-19-related programming gaps, health awareness, education and needs for connectivity
  • Advances positive change in societal inequities for our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities
  • Uses music to create a more empathetic and equitable society 
  • Demonstrates a clear understanding of a population that lacks access to music, and the economic, social, racial, geographic or other reasons for this lack of access
  • Addresses a specific need with inclusive and culturally relevant programming 
  • Demonstrates a strong knowledge of the needs and perspectives of the audience served
  • Develops creative cross-discipline collaborations 
  • Explores a broad range of musical genres
  • Engages and benefits diverse and historically marginalized communities
  • Provides student-centered and culturally relevant instruments and instruction to Denver schools that offer limited or no music education
  • Has potential for significant artistic and cultural impact on a community
  • Reflects the applicant’s unique interpretation of music advancement
  • Supports career growth and capacity-building to help build workforce in difficult times
  • Shows strong artistic vision, originality and professional capabilities
  • Explores global and culturally diverse connections
  • Understands the professional and creative landscape of the music ecosystem
  • Takes risks and articulates an original vision
  • Emphasizes sustained music-making and other experiential approaches to music instruction 
  • Devises and tests 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:

  • 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

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 proposals and recommend a slate of grantees that show strength in relation to the following factors and criteria:

  • Relevance: Clear explanation of how the music-centered project or program supports the goals of the IMAGINE 2020 cultural plan, responds to the COVID-19 health crisis and/or addresses racial inequities in our city.
  • Collaboration: Indication of how the project or program was developed through authentic relationships with diverse entities, collective leadership and community buy-in.
  • Program Impact: Evaluation methods, both qualitative and quantitative, showing the success and challenges of the project or program.
  • Commitment to Community and Creativity: Commitment to the creative process, civic engagement, and community change.

Project Evaluation

Denver Music Advancement Fund recipients will be required to complete a short final report and survey that includes project documentation (summary, photographs, video), and an assessment of whether the fund’s objectives were met, and the project’s successes and challenges. For ease of reporting, and so Arts & Venues can help promote your program and its successes, please be sure to document your work along the way.

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 Disabilities 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