The Creative Work Fund is pleased to award 13 new grants to Greater Bay Area artists collaborating with nonprofit organizations to develop new works of visual art, theater, traditional art, dance, poetry, arts activism and more. Grantees continue to show us that when artists and organizations are in partnership, they strengthen the vibrancy of the Bay Area.
The funded projects speak to how artists amplify visibility, with projects that are rooted in history and the power of collective story-telling; creating an evening-length mixed media event with film, spoken word, choreography, and original music as a result of community conversations with incarcerated friends and families; uplifting trans immigrants and asylum seekers through a collection of visual and written narratives, the creation of archives, and community building; engaging East San José community through workshops and conversations to create a flexible performance piece that centers community voices and inspires civic engagement; honoring the history and legacy of Issei women and the Japanese YWCA through video, music, and dance.
Others activate legacy to remind us that the future begins now; creating new literature infused with personal and archival stories to tell the life story of a trans woman who fled Cuba and became a San Francisco legend; finding connection between Malcolm X’s love of jazz music and Black Jazz musicians who were deeply influenced by his stance against injustice and oppression; sparking the musical imagination of composers as a way of connecting back to their own ancestry, laying down song lines for future generations.
Still others create new ways of being and place-making, showing how artists can be practitioners of community care and preservation; activating the river-front in Petaluma with hip-hop and creative pieces co-created with underrepresented community members; revisiting ritual inspired by the seder plate, a ritual item of the Jewish holiday Passover in conversation circles, meals, nature walks and an immersive installation; leading an audience through botanical-inspired imagery exploring identity, home, displacement, inheritance, and colonialism; unveiling a colorful and cultural path between two streets in San Jose for generations to come to experience.
Program lead Natalia Vigil comments, “The grantees are inspiring examples of artists creating work with and for the very communities that have made them the artists they are today and collaborating organizations with equal dedication and commitment to these Bay Area places and people.”
Since 1994, the Creative Work Fund has awarded $17.03 million to advance art-making by San Francisco Bay Area artists working in a variety of disciplines. The 2023 grants, which range in size from $36,000-$50,000, were highly competitive and recommended to the Fund by multidisciplinary, community-centered committees of distinguished reviewers.
2023 Creative Work Fund Grantees
Jazz harpist Destiny Muhammad is collaborating with AfroSolo Theatre Company to create Detroit Red: The Odyssey of Malcolm X, an original multimedia production that explores Malcolm’s love of jazz music. The work will premiere at the Malonga Casquelourd Center in Oakland with collaborating artist LuFuki.
Filmmaker Jen Gilomen and Black Women Birthing Justice, Inc. are collaborating a documentary storytelling project and exhibition featuring the stories of Bay Area doulas and the Black birthing people they support and empower. The work will be presented virtually and in-person in community, clinical and conference spaces alongside an exhibition of short documentaries with professional still photography and prints.
Poet Genny Lim is collaborating with Del Sol Performing Arts Organization to create The Songs of the Diaspora, a connection between our ancestors and our future through new poetry by Lim in an immersive musical experience with collaborating artists Vivian Fung, Mark Heller, Meilina Tsui, Andi Wong, and Theresa Wong. The evening-length work will be presented in June 2025.
Multidisciplinary artist Antwan Williams will lead an ensemble of artists collaborating with R&R: Reflecting Reality and Releasing Restrictions and Emerging Arts Professionals, fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts. Originally part of the Artistic Ensemble of San Quentin Prison, the new group will create “Every Second” Phase Two, an evening-length mixed media event with film, spoken word, choreography, and original music created from community conversations with incarcerated friends and families.
Visual Artist and curator Marcel Pardo Ariza, in collaboration with Galería de la Raza, will create Ahora, Nosotres, a multimedia art project that will uplift trans immigrants through the creation, development and presentation of a 2025 exhibition and public programming in Galería’s Studio 16 Main Gallery.
Writer and performer Julián Delgado Lopera and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society will collaborate to create QUEENA, an experimental book, infused with personal and archival stories, about Adela Holiday, a trans woman who fled Cuba and became a San Francisco legend.
Visual artist Day Schildkret is collaborating with the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to create The Sacred Seder: An Artistic Fusion of Plate and Place, a public art installation inspired by the seder plate, an iconic ritual item of the Jewish holiday Passover. The final work will be presented at the JCCSF’s Kanbar Hall. The live installation will be open to the public free of charge in April 2025.
Culture bearer Melody Takata, with an ensemble of artists from GenRyu Arts and Bay Area jazz composers and musicians, is collaborating with Nihonmachi Little Friends to create In Their Footsteps exploring the history and legacy of Issei women and the Japanese YWCA through video, music, and dance. Performances will take place in 2026 in San Francisco’s Japantown.
Visual artist Kija Lucas will collaborate with the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation to create The Enchanted Garden, an installation exploring identity, home, displacement, inheritance, and colonialism, through botanical-inspired imagery. The project will be presented in conjunction with the fall 2024 exhibition Grow.
Hip hop artist Kayatta Patton and Petaluma River Park Foundation will inspire and center the engagement of historically marginalized communities in the concept design for a new riverfront “central park” in Petaluma. Culminating in songs co-created by Patton and community, final creative pieces will be presented in audio and video recordings and via live performances on site at Petaluma River Park.
Poet and activist Yosimar Reyes and Teatro Visión de San José will engage East San José community through workshops and conversations to create a flexible performance piece that elevates community voices and inspires continued civic engagement. Work will be presented in 2025 live at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and on demand online.
East San José-based muralist Francisco Ramirez and The School of Arts and Culture at MHP to implement La Avenida Creative Crosswalk, a colorful, culturally-specific bridge across Alum Rock Avenue between the Mexican Heritage Plaza and La Placita. The work will be unveiled at Avenida de Altares at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in October 2024.
Choreographer Eric Solano and World Arts West are collaborating to create Ipat a Kadsakay, is a new ritual dance work inspired by the Sagayan Dance from the Maguindanaon Ipat ritual, performed by Parangal Dance Company.
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 generous grants from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Creative Work Fund 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.
Annually, the Fund considers applications from artists and nonprofit organizations in 10 greater Bay Area counties (extending from Napa and Sonoma to Santa Cruz).
This year’s CWF awarding process centered collaborations with community in the form of our community readers and panels. The multi-disciplinary, community experts that reviewed proposals and artists’ documentation include Cece Carpio, a visual storyteller using acrylic, ink, aerosol, and installations to lift up her communities, share their stories, and provoke the power of their imagination documenting evolving traditions by combining folkloric forms, bold portraits, and natural elements with urban art techniques; James Q. Chan an Emmy-nominated producer and director based in San Francisco; Maria Judice a visual storyteller working as a director, producer, industry equity and equality advocate, and educator; amara tabor-smith a San Francisco born, and Oakland, CA based choreographer, performance maker, cultural worker, and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater, with work rooted in Black, queer, feminist principles that insist on liberation, joy, home fullness and well-being; and Lindsay Tully a filmmaker, artist, and creative, one third of the art collaborative Bonanza and Senior Director at Creativebug, an online platform for craft classes.
Readers advising on the letter-of-inquiry review were: Laura Brief, an expert in the fields of youth development and social impact and the present CEO of 826 National; Ajuan Mance a visual artist and scholarly writer who explores the complexities of race, gender, and identity in the U.S and Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at Mills College and an instructor in the Illustration and Comics programs at California College of the Arts; Dr. Adrienne Danyelle Oliver a poet-educator, hip-hop scholar from Little Rock, AR currently living in the SF Bay Area, a Pushcart Prize Nominee and curator of Black Gold Storytellers, an award-winning intergenerational storytelling circle that features elders who have migrated from the South to California; Patricia Barretto Ong, a dancer and choreographer, with a creative practice rooted in movement for cultural expression, storytelling and community building and collaborator in Agasan, a multi-disciplinary arts collective, making spaces for healing through creative expression in movement, sound and visual arts; Kari Orvik, a photo-based artist and educator and Stanford University lecturer whose work explores the resilience and fragility of our changing urban and natural environments through the lens of what we hold onto, what we let go of, and where we place value; and Rio Yañez a Bay Area-based visual artist and curator of over 25 exhibitions from San Francisco to Tokyo and founding member of The Great Tortilla Conspiracy.
The Creative Work Fund will announce the next deadlines, guidelines, and informational webinars for interested applicants in January 2024. Information will be available at creativeworkfund.org.