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August 1, 2017 – The Creative Work Fund is pleased to announce the awarding of 15 grants totaling $600,000 to Bay Area literary and traditional artists. The Fund provides financial support to local artists creating new work in collaboration with Bay Area nonprofits. Each grantee will receive between $30,000 and $40,000 to further his or her artwork in the form of creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, murals, theater, music, dance, and more. Since its inception in 1994, Creative Work Fund has funded 354 projects that provide support to artists while building their partnerships with nonprofit organizations and community groups.

“Many of this year’s applications addressed displacement and the loss of the character of neighborhoods and community histories,” said the Fund’s director, Frances Phillips. “Others speak to preserving and passing down cultural traditions. Some grapple with immigration, diasporic communities, poverty, and civil rights.”

The projects generally aim to unify and better Bay Area neighborhoods or communities. Past grant recipients have completed projects that range from inviting community members to contribute materials that illustrate the history of their neighborhoods to dance-theatre productions that explore topics ranging from the 1980s AIDS crisis to female incarceration.

The 2017 literary arts awardees and collaborators are: Adriana Camarena (San Francisco) with Accion Latina (San Francisco); Paul Flores (San Francisco) with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco); Katie Gilmartin (Oakland) with Openhouse (San Francisco); Malcolm Margolin (Berkeley) with Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California (Berkeley) and fiscal sponsor Richmond Museum of History; Andrew Lam (San Francisco) with Pacific Links Foundation (Milpitas); Baruch Porras-Hernandez (San Francisco) with Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Inc (San Jose); and Gary Soto (Berkeley) with San Francisco Youth Theater (San Francisco).

The 2017 traditional arts awardees and collaborators are: Edythe Boone (Berkeley) with Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients (Berkeley); Zhaoxin Chen (Fremont) with Chinese Performing Arts Foundation (San Francisco); Issa Golitzen Farajaje (Oakland) with Zawaya (San Mateo); Muisi-kongo Malonga (East Palo Alto) with One East Palo Alto (East Palo Alto); Sonam Phuntsok (El Cerrito) with Tibetan Association of Northern California (Richmond); Russell Rodriguez (Santa Cruz) with Teatro Vision de San Jose (San Jose); Farah Yasmeen Shaikh (Menlo Park) with EnActe Arts (Sunnyvale); and (Dennis) Tobaji Stewart (Oakland) with Inner City Services (Berkeley).

Grants are highly competitive and are recommended to the Fund by committees of accomplished panelists. The literary arts review panelists were: Brian Blanchfield, poet, prose writer, and University of Idaho Assistant Professor of Creative Writing; Tsering Wagmo Dhompa, poet, creative nonfiction author, and Ph.D. candidate in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz; LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, writer, vocalist, and sound artist; Nikki Silva, half of “The Kitchen Sisters” independent radio, writing, and multimedia production team; and community activist and writer Tony Valenzuela, executive director, Lambda Literary. Advisors for the literary arts applications were writer and visual artist Jaime Cortez and fiction writer Suzanne Rivecca.

The traditional arts panelists were: Sherwood Chen, cultural worker, performer and former program director, Alliance for California Traditional Arts; Ysamur Flores-Pena, keeper of Lucumi traditions, folklorist, and adjunct professor at Otis College of Art and Design; Halifu Osumare, dance educator, choreographer and associate professor emerita of African American Studies, University of California, Davis; and Hiromi Lorraine Sakata, ethnomusicologist and professor emerita, University of California, Los Angeles. Advisors for the traditional arts applications were Maribel Alvarez, associate professor of anthropology, University of Arizona, and Celine Schein Das, arts administrator.

Brief Project Descriptions

Literary Arts Projects

Adriana Camarena (San Francisco) and Accion Latina (San Francisco)
Adriana Camarena is collaborating with Accion Latina to create and distribute “Unsettled/Inquietos,” a series of literary non-fiction essays based on portraits of working class and poor residents of the traditionally Latino Mission District of San Francisco.

Paul Flores (San Francisco) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco)
Paul Flores and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) are collaborating to create We Have Ire, a performance exploring transnational identity with a particular focus on the lives of Afro-Cuban and Cuban-American artists who are living in the United States.

Katie Gilmartin (Oakland) and Openhouse (San Francisco)
Openhouse and Katie Gilmartin are collaborating to witness, honor, and preserve LGBTQ elders’ memories of tavern culture and bar raids through oral history interviews, walking tours, readings, and the writing of Vice Academy, a novel about Queer taverns and raids in mid-century San Francisco.

Andrew Lam (San Francisco) and Pacific Links Foundation (Milpitas)
Andrew Lam is collaborating with Pacific Links Foundation (PALS) to write long-form literary essays and short stories exploring the topic of being a displaced person. These will encompass stories of refugees who came to America, victims of human trafficking and their defenders, and those who cross borders in the 21st Century.

Malcolm Margolin (Berkeley) and Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California (Berkeley) with fiscal sponsor Richmond Museum of History (Richmond)
Malcolm Margolin and the University of California, Berkeley’s Archaeological Research Facility are collaborating to produce a book about the West Berkeley Shell Mound. With origins dated at 4,700 years ago, this shell mound marked the location of what is considered the first permanent human settlement on the shores of the San Francisco Bay.

Baruch Porras-Hernandez (San Francisco) and Movimiento de Arte Cultura Latino Americana, Inc. (San Jose)
Baruch Porras-Hernandez is collaborating with Movimiento de Arte Cultura Latino Americana, Inc. (MACLA) to develop an anthology composed of five distinct superhero short stories written by Bay Area queer and Latinx writers, and a 45-minute interactive storytelling and live theater piece based on the stories.

Gary Soto (Berkeley) and San Francisco Youth Theater (San Francisco
Writer Gary Soto is collaborating with San Francisco Youth Theater (SFYT) to create The Afterlife, a new play about gang violence, teen death, and suicide. In creating an authentic and resonant script, Soto will confer with youth and staff at Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, Inc. and with San Francisco Suicide Prevention.

Traditional Arts Projects

Edythe Boone (Berkeley) and Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients (Berkeley)
Muralist Edythe Boone is collaborating with a team of artists, clients of the Berkeley Drop-In Center (managed by the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients), and residents and merchants of South Berkeley to create a mural on the Drop-In Center’s exterior.

Zhaoxin Chen (Fremont) and Chinese Performing Arts Foundation (San Francisco)
Zhaoxin Chen and the Chinese Performing Arts Foundation are creating the Jing-Kun Project to introduce new audiences to the venerable traditions of classical Chinese drama in the Beijing (“Jing”) and Kunqu (“Kun”) styles.

Issa Golitzen Farajajé (Oakland) and Zawaya (San Mateo)
Issa Golitzen Farajaje is collaborating with Zawaya to research and perform a concert of Sufi music from the Arab world. Project partners will travel to Turkey, research and prepare 25-30 pieces, train Zawaya’s Aswat Ensemble to perform them, produce a concert, and prepare a booklet containing the songs, music notes, and translations.

Muisi-Kongo Malonga (East Palo Alto) and One East Palo Alto (East Palo Alto)
Muisi-Kongo Malonga is collaborating with One East Palo Alto to create “Congo Danced a Nairobi Blues,” exploring the intersecting stories of traditional Congolese dance in the United States and the history of “Little Nairobi” (now East Palo Alto), California.

Sonam Phuntsok (El Cerrito) and Tibetan Association of Northern California (Richmond)
Opera master Sonam Phuntsok and the Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC) are adapting the Tibetan folk opera Sukyi Nyima – a favorite among the eight traditional Tibetan operas. Such operas combine Buddhist teachings with tales of romantic intrigue and social satire.

Russell Rodriguez (Santa Cruz) and Teatro Visión de San José (San Jose)
Chicano theater company Teatro Visión and musician and composer Russell Rodriguez are creating an original bilingual play and a studio recording. The play addresses how members of the Bay Area Latino community today bring meaning to the confrontation of death and dying.

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh (Menlo Park) and EnActe Arts (Sunnyvale)
Kathak dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh and EnActe Arts are creating The Partition Project, highlighting stories from the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition, a political act that set in motion forced migration and a mass refugee crisis.

(Dennis) Tobaji Stewart (Oakland) and Inter-City Services, Inc. (Berkeley)
(Dennis) Tobaji Stewart will lead an intergenerational group of artists to create Answered Prayers, a staged work that interweaves African and African American ritual and traditions with hip hop dance and spoken word.

Pictured: Paul S. Flores, literary arts recipeint. Photo by Eli Jacobs Fantauzzi