The Creative Work Fund invites artists and nonprofit organizations to create new art works through collaborations. It celebrates the role of artists as problem solvers and the making of art as a profound contribution to intellectual inquiry and to the strengthening of communities. Artists are encouraged to collaborate with nonprofit organizations of all kinds, stretching boundaries and forging new partnerships. About 15 Creative Work Fund grants, ranging in size from $10,000-$40,000, are awarded each year.
The Fund seeks
- Projects in which the creation of an artwork is central
- Projects in which the artist functions primarily as an artist, not as a teacher, an art therapist, or in another capacity
- Projects in which an active, authentic working partnership between the artist or artists and the organization is central to the work’s development
- Projects that engage the organization’s constituents in the artist’s work
- Projects that draw upon artists’ creativity and problem-solving abilities
- Projects through which the making of art can strengthen a community, draw attention to an important issue, or engage audiences in new ways
- Projects that challenge artistic imagination and organizational thinking
- Projects that will be presented in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma County
- Projects that designate at least two-thirds of the grant funds to the principal artists and their direct expenses for creating the work.
Performing & Visual Arts
The Creative Work Fund invites letters of inquiry from nonprofit organizations and collaborating performing or visual artists. A performing or visual arts project may culminate in any form, but it must feature a lead artist with a strong track record as a performing or visual artist. The Creative Work Fund uses the following definitions for these eligible artists:
- Performing artists create or execute work in dance, opera, performance art, theater, and vocal and instrumental music. (Spoken word artists should apply as literary artists in a future year.)
- Choreographer Erika Chong Shuch is collaborating with Kitka, a vocal arts ensemble that is dedicated to music rooted in Eastern European women’s vocal traditions, to create Iron Shoes, a contemporary neo-feminist folk opera combining singing, movement, text, humor, and environments of light. Also collaborating are members of The Erika Chong Shuch (ESP) Performance Project, composer Janet Kutulas, and production designer Allen Willner.
- Composer and musician Van-Anh Vo is collaborating with Asian Americans for Community Involvement to create The Odyssey—from Vietnam to America, a multi-disciplinary production about the spiritual odyssey of the Vietnamese Boat People and the emotional anguish and suffering they endured. Also collaborating on the music will be electronic musician and composer Philip Blackburn.
- Playwright and director Sean San Jose collaborated with The Cutting Ball Theater on Superheroes, a story of the crack-cocaine epidemic in 1980s San Francisco. The play is partially inspired by Gary Webb’s groundbreaking investigative journalism. The development process included open process workshops in the Tenderloin and Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhoods of San Francisco.
- Bernard Krause collaborated with Alonzo King on a new ballet, choreographed by King and set to an original composition by Krause and fellow-composer Richard Blackford. The piece was created using Krause’s recordings of natural soundscapes. Bernard L. Krause is the founder of Wild Sanctuary, which is dedicated to the recording and archiving of natural soundscapes: He coined the term “biophony,” the notion that each creature has a niche sound—a bandwidth—that gives it the aural space to communicate.
- Visual artists include those with experience in painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation art, public art, drawing, crafts, graphics, ceramics, design, or artists’ books. (Video and sound-based installation artists and artists creating new genre, time-based works should apply as media artists in a future year.).
- A master plan is being developed for the environmentally sensitive Benicia Waterfront that will integrate the historical downtown area with the adjacent marshlands and park. Arts Benicia and artist Mark Brest van Kempen are integrating public art and public dialogue into planning for this development. Three temporary site-specific installations explore aspects of the site and trigger a set of public events to discuss ideas raised by the installations.Clare Rojas, the 509 Cultural Center, and others involved in shaping a Mid-Market Arts District in San Francisco collaborated on the creation, development, and installation of a large-scale temporary public mural on the five-story Warfield Building. The finished work is visible to Market Street motorists, mass transit riders, and pedestrians.Photographer, videographer, and educator Mia Nakano is collaborating with Hyphen Magazine to create “The Visibility Project: Faces, Stories, and Histories of Queer Asian American Women and Transgender Communities.” Hyphen, a nonprofit news and culture magazine, tells stories of Asian America, showcasing people outside of the boundaries of Asian American stereotypes. Nakano is creating a new LGBTQ online section at hyphenmagazine.com as well as community snapshots of LGBTQ API communities in the U.S. South and Midwest.Ceramic artist Ehren Tool collaborated with the Palo Alto Art Center to create new work honoring local veterans. Beginning in April 2014, the Center invited community members to lend objects, images, and ephemera related to their or their relatives’ military service. Ehren Tool incorporated these items—as scanned glass decals or objects—into ceramic cups and displayed them in an installation. At the end of the project, he gave the cups away to the community members who had contributed images and objects for the project.
Artist Rene Yung collaborated with the San Francisco Maritime Museum to continue an exploration of untold stories of Chinese immigrants to the Bay Area with a project focusing on the 19th Century shrimping industry that Chinese immigrants established in the San Francisco Bay. With a team of artists, scholars, and Maritime Museum staff, Rene Yung sailed on a replica 19th century Chinese shrimp junk, to sites of former fisheries, chronicling the journeys through visual images, audio, and text. The project culminated with an installation and film at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Visitor’s Center.
In either category, artists and organizations should plan projects and prepare and authorize their letters of inquiry together. If a project will use a fiscal sponsor, that sponsor also must review and sign off on the letter.
In the invited categories, the letter of inquiry screening and proposal award decisions will be based on:
- Evidence of the range and quality of the artist’s work
- Evidence that the project is an authentic collaboration between the artist and the organization
- Evidence that the project stretches organizational thinking and artistic imagination
- Demonstrated capability of the organization in its field
- Evidence of fiscal responsibility and sound organizational management
EligibilityWho Can Apply?
For 2015-16 consideration, artists and organizations that received Creative Work Fund grants in October 2013, August 2014, or August 2015 are ineligible.
Past Creative Work Fund grant recipients who are reapplying also must have finished their projects and completed approved final reports before submitting new letters of inquiry.
The Fund will not consider
- Commissions of new works by artists in which the applicant organization and artists are not collaboratively engaged in the making of those works
- Projects in which the lead artists and collaborating organization are not based in the eligible counties or those with multiple artists, most of whom are based outside of the 11 counties
- Projects that do not feature the artist(s) centrally as demonstrated by the project descriptions and budget allocations
- Projects from lead artists or organizations that were awarded Creative Work Fund grants in October 2013, August 2014, or August 2015
- Projects from artists or organizations that have not completed projects and final reports for previously awarded Creative Work Fund projects.
The next deadline for letters of inquiry is March 1, 2016.