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The Creative Work Fund is awarding 15 new grants totaling $651,896 in support of greater San Francisco Bay Area artists and nonprofit organizations that are collaborating with them to create new art works. Selected projects will be making important contributions to local and national conversations about climate change, racism, disability, and immigration.

At this time, when 62% of artists in the United States are fully unemployed, $454,000 of these grant funds will go toward paying the lead artists and other artists working with them to realize their projects. The balance will pay for materials and supplies and the support of their nonprofit partners.

“Creative Work Fund grants support the developmental gestation period that goes into creating new artworks,” says Program Director Frances Phillips. “Even while theaters and galleries are closed, many of these partners can begin to research projects exchange ideas, and write text and music — preparation for working in earnest when coronavirus public health orders begin to permit more social gatherings. We’re excited about the opportunity to put artists to work.”

Among the funded projects, playwrights Eugenie Chan and Star Finch are employing a futuristic view, and forward-looking visual artist Corinne Takara is inviting community members to experiment with biomaterials. Historical explorations also are in the mix, with dancer/choreographers Joe Goode, Tania Leullieux, and Susana Pedroso taking fresh looks at 20th century events that illuminate the present. Composers Manose Singh and Matthew Welch are creating works that reveal individuals’ stories — Singh is working with refugees from Bhutan, while Welch is creating a one-act choral opera based on the 1924-28 personal diary of a young Filipina immigrant to California. Traditional artist Edward Willie looks back several hundred years to revive women’s Pomo regalia, making it painstakingly from local, natural materials.

“The grants also support artists who represent and illuminate the creative contributions of community members who often are under-recognized,” Phillips says. “These include short films created with performers with Dwarfism, site-specific dance works featuring Deaf dancers and actors, and a new fashion line created with artists with developmental disabilities.”


Since 1994, the Creative Work Fund has awarded $14.3 million to advance art-making by San Francisco Bay Area artists working in a variety of disciplines. The Fund previously invited applicants to request support in one of two broadly-defined genre categories, but, in 2020, the Fund opened applications to local artists working in all disciplines. The 2020 grants, which range from $30,000-$45,000, were highly competitive and recommended to the Fund by multidisciplinary committees of distinguished reviewers.

2020 Creative Work Fund Grantees

Choreographer and performer Larry Arrington is collaborating with ODC Theater to produce Eleusis, a four-hour interdisciplinary performance trip through grief and joy created in collaboration with 20 women and queer multidisciplinary performers that invites participants to consider their role in the climate crisis.

Playwright Eugenie Chan is collaborating with The Paul Dresher Ensemble and ShadowLight Productions to create a new musical shadow theater work, Heterotopia, that responds to Chinese science fiction writer Cixin Liu’s book, a speculative fable that explores issues of human migration and transformation after the catastrophic destruction of Earth as we know it.

Playwright Star Finch is collaborating with Crowded Fire Theater Company to produce Shipping and Handling, a play structured as an evening out at the theater told in reverse order: It moves from the after-party with actors, to the playwright’s experimental talkback, to the performance of the official “play” itself.

Filmmaker Lindsay Gauthier is collaborating with the environmental organization LandPaths and the dance company Fog Beast on the short narrative film “Wild,” a visual, emotional, kinesthetic journey that follows the experience of someone who is having an unexpected encounter with a wild space for the first time.

Choreographer Joe Goode and Joe Goode Performance Group are collaborating with San Francisco Architectural Heritage to develop and present Time of Change, a site-specific dance theater installation anchored by the Doolan-Larson Residence and Storefronts, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and located at the “crossroads of the counterculture” — the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco.

Dancer, choreographer, and Deaf activist Antoine Hunter is collaborating with Epiphany Dance Theater to create new works at the sites of four sculptures by Douglas Tilden, exploring the historic genocide, oppression, and racial injustice inflicted on Deaf communities of color.

Flamenco dancer and choreographer La Tania, visual artist Adrian Arias, and guitarist and composer Jose Luis de La Paz are collaborating with the Presidio Theatre to create an immersive, multimedia experience that explores displacement and cultural survival and addresses the problem of rising seas resulting from climate disruption.

Hip-hop dancer Johnny A Lopez (Johnny5) is collaborating with Micaya, artistic director of SoulForce and creator of the San Francisco International Hip Hop Dance Festival, in a project that brings together two distinct hip hop dance approaches — freestyling/improvised street dance and choreographed work that draws upon hip hop, jazz, contemporary, and other dance traditions.

Cuban folkloric and popular dancer Susana Arenas Pedroso and Duniya Dance and Drum Company are collaborating on a dance and music performance about the cultural and political relationship between Guinea, West Africa, and Cuba.

Nepalese musician and composer Manose Singh is collaborating with Asian Refugees United’s Bhutanese refugee performance collective, The Storytellers, to produce an evening-length work, Mero Yatra, Mero Geet (My Journey, My Song), featuring traditional and new Nepali music staged with song and spoken-word narrative.

Artist Corinne Takara and the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles are collaborating on a community-sourced project that draws on local cultural practices and place-based materials to explore the artistic and technological possibilities of biomaterials, ultimately using those materials and fiber art techniques to create BioQuilts for exhibition.

Lindsay Tully and the artist collective Bonanza are collaborating with artists of Creativity Explored to create a cohesive fashion line and textile pieces that will be exhibited at the Museum of Craft and Design and at a runway show. Members of Bonanza include Tully,  Conrad Guevara, and Lana Williams.

Composer Matthew Welch is collaborating with the San Francisco Girls Chorus Inc to create Tomorrow’s Memories, an evening-length, one-act choral opera scored for girls that brings to life the 1924-28 personal diary of Angeles Monrayo, a young Filipina immigrant. Also collaborating are the Filipinx team of stage director Sean San Jose, visuals creator Joan Osato, and choreographer Alleluia Panis.

Traditional artist Edward Willie and Museum of the American Indian are collaborating to revive nearly forgotten California regalia traditions, focusing primarily on lost techniques used to construct finely crafted woman’s ceremonial accessories.

Filmmaker Julie Wyman is collaborating with Little People of America, Inc. to produce HOW WE LOOK, five short films that imagine alternatives to the stereotypical, limiting, and medicalized ways that the arts have historically represented little people. This project is based in a participatory filmmaking process, with Wyman engaging five members of the Dwarf Artist Coalition.

About the Creative Work Fund

The Creative Work Fund was initiated in 1994 by four Bay Area foundations that wanted to contribute to the creation of new artworks and support local artists. It is now a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by a generous grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For the 2019-20 grant cycle, the Fund invited applications from artists in 11 greater Bay Area counties (from Napa and Sonoma to Monterey and Santa Cruz). These grants celebrate 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.

Distinguished panelists and advisors assisted in the 2020 grant selection process. They included: Kristy Edmunds, executive and artistic director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance; Michael Holtmann, executive director of the Center for the Art of Translation and publisher of Two Lines Press; Charlton Lee, violist and founding member of the Del Sol String Quartet; G. Brent Lindsay, independent artist and co-founder of the Imaginists; Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, associate professor in the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Weston Teruya, artist; and M?healani Uchiyama, multidisciplinary artist and founder of the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance.

Advising on the letter-of-inquiry review were Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, executive director, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana; visual artist and educator Kevin B. Chen, San Francisco State University School of Art and Stanford University Department of Art and Art History; Laura Elaine Ellis, co-founder and director, African and African American Performing Arts Coalition; Clement Hil Goldberg, multidisciplinary artist, writer, director, and animator;  Leigh Henderson, managing director, Teatro Vision; poet and translator Denise Newman, senior adjunct faculty, writing and literature program, California College of the Arts; and ethnomusicologist David Roche, freelance consultant.

The Creative Work Fund will announce the 2020-21 deadlines, guidelines, and informational webinars for interested applicants in early October. Check the calendar and subscribe to our mailing list to receive more information.