Guidelines for Rental Space

Policies and Procedures for Facility Rental

A unique community resource, the Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation (“The Foster”) located at 940 Commercial Street in Palo Alto offers a welcoming and inspiring setting for a variety of events. 

Event Manager

To ensure the safe and enjoyable use of the facility, renters must communicate directly with the designated Foster Event Manager. Decisions made by any other person will not be considered binding or valid, even if they are made by a member of the Foster staff or Board of Directors.

Acceptable Use

The space is available for educational, social, and business events such as meetings, lectures, fund-raisers and gatherings. We are particularly interested in providing a venue for local non-profit organizations with an environmental, education or art focus.

Reserving the space

The facility may be reserved up to six (6) months in advance, but no later than ten (10) business days before the event unless given a special exception by the Foster Venue Manager. 

The following information should be considered to help ensure sufficient parking space for your group. Please avoid parking in lots that may belong to adjacent businesses in our neighborhood; the number of participants may be modified if ride-sharing arrangements are made:



Number of participants

Under 20:

Monday–Friday 8:00 am–5:00 pm

Saturday–Sunday 10:00 am–5:00pm

Over 20:

Monday–Friday 5:00pm–11:00 pm

Saturday–Sunday before 10:00 am or after 5:00pm

While available dates may be checked in person or by phone, an application must be submitted before a date can be secured. 


Cost for using the facility is based on space usage, guest count, and length of the event—including set-up and clean up. A detailed estimate tailored to the event will be provided to the renter in advance. 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations may qualify for reduced or at-cost rates. 

A 10% deposit is due upon signing the agreement. Payment in full is due ten (10) days prior to the event.  501(c)(3) non-profit organizations may be invoiced after the events rather than before.


The Foster requires the renter to provide a Certificate of Insurance that includes general liability insurance. The renter should review their insurance policy with their insurance advisor to be certain that all sponsored special events, including those that involve the serving of liquor and that are held off the premises, are afforded proper insurance protection. 

The renter agrees to assume full responsibility for any damage to the facility or artwork that should occur as a result of their use, including any and all further charges that might be incurred as a result of such damage. Any loss or damage, etc., caused by a caterer or any other volunteer or hired third party is the responsibility of the renter. The renter agrees to release the Foster and staff members harmless against any liability from them and their guests or a hired third party.


One of more staff members from The Foster are required to attend all events, to help ensure the security of the artwork. The Foster staff present can help answer questions but are not responsible for any service including, set-up or clean-up. Some small events may require only one (1) staff person, but most events will require at least two (2). 

Staffing charges, including renter/vendor set-up and clean-up time, may be incurred when events occur outside of normal work hours (9:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F). Charges will be determined based on space usage, guest count, and length of the event. 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations may qualify for reduced or at-cost rates.

Rooms Available

Areas available at the venue for an event are limited to the following:

  • Lobby

  • Conference Room

  • Gallery A - Exploring Beauty

  • Gallery B - Sacred Places

  • Gallery C - Retrospective

  • Kitchen

  • Restrooms

Guests are restricted from upstairs offices and the art storage area. Closets will be unlocked by a staff member on an as-needed basis or as required.


Occupancy varies per event depending on layout. Tables should be at least 30 inches from all artwork, especially if a bartender or other person will be behind the table. All sit down tables with chairs need to be a minimum of 36 inches from artwork. A Capacity Guidelines chart for various events is below:

Type of Event | Maximum number of guests

  • Sit down dinner | Max 70 guests

  • Buffet dinner with seating | Max 50 guests

  • Lecture/speaker style event | Max 120 guests

  • Reception/Cocktail party | Max 200 guests

Event Time Frame

Delivery and set up of tables, chairs, food, etc. must be arranged before the event so that it does not interfere with regular Foster activities. It is the responsibility of the renter to communicate approved delivery, set-up, and clean-up times with caterers and other third party vendors.

Food & Beverages

Only caterers on the preferred list may be used at the facility. Exceptions may be made if an outside caterer meets with the Foster Event Coordinator at least fourteen (14) business days before the event. Caterers must follow all Foster policies. 

Caterers must remove all trash and recycling generated by the event from the facility. The Foster waste receptacles only have the capacity to handle the needs of a small office. Caterers must not use the trash or recycle bins of other neighborhood businesses.

Alcohol may only be served on the premises by licensed caterers.


It is critical that neighborhood businesses are not disturbed by events at the Foster. Unrestricted street parking is available in addition to nine (9) designated parking spots in the back of the building. (Please do not park in lots belonging to neighborhood businesses.) It is recommended that valet parking or shuttle services be organized for large events. 

In general, street parking during normal workdays is somewhat limited. After 5:00 pm and on weekends, there are plenty of street parking spots available.


The Foster does not provide any materials or equipment except for a kitchen facility, a video screen, and coat racks. All audio-visual equipment, tables, chairs or other furniture and equipment must be provided by the renter.

Setup and breakdown of equipment, furniture and decorations are not included in the rental fee. Setup and breakdown of event equipment, furniture and decorations are the responsibility of the renter and everything must be removed the night of the event or no later than 10:00 am the following day. The Foster is not responsible for items left overnight.

Please note that lighting in the galleries cannot be controlled like theater lighting. Individual lights and specific tracks cannot be turned off and there are no spotlights. Users/renters should visit the Foster during business hours a couple of weeks prior to the event to view the lighting so that they have time to order equipment if additional lighting is desired.


The kitchen is not set up to accommodate full catering. The kitchen is equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher and a single sink. It does NOT have a stove or cooktop. The utensils, plates, glassware and serving items in the kitchen are not to be used for outside events. Your selected caterer should be aware of this requirement and that the refrigerator will likely contain personal items of the Foster staff.

Caterers may use the roll-up door loading area in the back of the building for staging. They may not use the rear exit door vestibule.

Music and Noise Levels

Noise levels cannot be more than eight dB above the local ambient at any point outside of the property plane. Music is only permitted inside the facility when all doors are closed. 

Artwork Protocol

The Foster allows the use of the space for special non-Foster events for the express purpose of sharing the artwork with the public. The exhibitions are intended to be viewed in their entirety. The Foster will not move or remove any paintings or other artwork. In addition, the following rules apply:

  • No open flames are permitted in the galleries.

  • No fountains or other liquid-based decorations are permitted in the galleries.

  • The paintings, cases, signage, or any other features of the exhibitions may not be touched.

  • Smoking is not permitted in the building or within 20 feet of the building.

  • Pets are not allowed; service animals are permitted.

  • Backpacks, rigid baby packs, and long umbrellas must be left in the lobby coat closet.


During events taking place outside of normal working hours (9 am – 5 pm, M-F), there must be designated security personnel present. The Foster may or may not be able to provide staff members to provide this service. If Foster staff is used, charges will be determined based on space usage, guest count, and length of the event, including set up and clean up. 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations may qualify for reduced or at-cost rates.


Foster-trained docents are available to give tours and answer questions about the art if desired. Charges will be determined based on space usage, guest count, and length of the event. 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations may qualify for reduced or at-cost rates.


A walkthrough will be completed pre- and post-event with the Foster Venue Manager or designated staff person and a checklist signed off by him/her as well as the renter’s designee. 


Cancellations must be received in writing and the date received will be determined by the postmark or email receipt date. Refunds of rental fees will be handled as follows:  A) If the renter cancels more than ten (10) calendar days prior to the use date, the renter will be refunded the rental fee minus the 10% deposit. B) If the renter cancels less than ten (10) calendar days prior to the use date, the renter will forfeit the entire rental fee.

The Foster’s foremost obligations are to its public mission and the security of the Facility. The Foster reserves the right to cancel an event at any time, even when it is in progress, should the terms of the rental agreement be violated by the renter or guests. Cancellations may be made at the Foster’s discretion; this decision shall be binding and final. In such case, the Foster shall return all payments made by the renter and shall have no further liability under the rental agreement or otherwise, nor any liability for any charges for forfeited deposits imposed on the renter by hired third party vendors with whom the renter had made arrangements for the event.


In the event of an emergency, the Foster’s Evacuation Plan must be followed by the renter. The Plan will be shared with the renter during the initial walkthrough of the facility. It is the responsibility of the renter to communicate the Evacuation Plan with their vendors and guests.