The Creative Work Fund is pleased to award 15 new grants to Greater Bay Area artists collaborating with nonprofit organizations to develop new works of theater, traditional art, dance, poetry, arts activism and more. In the face of ongoing hardship and COVID-19, grantees show us that when artists and organizations partner, they enhance the vitality and resiliency of the Bay Area.
In addition to strength of proposal and meeting CWF guidelines, this year’s awardees reflect themes that the panelists cared about including preservation of culture, celebration and recognition of history, the stories of underrepresented communities, deep inquiry, and ground-breaking new works that lead the way for artistic genres.
The funded projects speak to how artists are movement-makers of our time, with projects that amplify resistance and the power of story-telling; indigenous farmworkers’ lives and their working conditions in Sonoma; young people in collaborative mural-making investigation of food justice issues in California; music videos by and for young people with themes of transformative justice; a musical theater production exploring the life and songs of a Black Bay Area legend, activist, and centenarian.
Others preserve legacy while still looking toward the future; finding musical commonalities and connections between two former colonial subjects of Spain; creating new music to explore the legacies of inherited and perpetuated violence, trauma, and addiction; of doctrine of manifest destiny, while also giving voice to and the outgrowth of social change; honoring the birth of the independent living movement, while creating a vision for disability justice into the future.
Still others create new rituals, showing how artists can be practitioners of well-being, leading an audience through a journey that bridges the heart + art; exploring traces left by faith in the Black body; Igbo traditions of art and performance in death and mourning; presenting an immersive cultural experience inspired by the community healing wisdom of the Philippine Kalinga culture; and creating new ensemble work performed by a cast of culturally and racially diverse blind, low-vision, and sighted performers.
Program lead Natalia Vigil comments, “This year’s Creative Work Fund awarding process centered collaborations with community in the form of our readers and panels. The final 15 CWF awardees were selected by a community panel comprised of working artists that represent the artistic, geographic, ethnic, and varied identities represented in the final group of applicants. This year’s grantees are strong examples of organization-artist partnership, of new work, and artistic innovation.”
Since 1994, the Creative Work Fund has awarded $16.4 million to advance art-making by San Francisco Bay Area artists working in a variety of disciplines. The 2022 grants, which range in size from $25,000-$50,000, were highly competitive and recommended to the Fund by multidisciplinary community-centered committees of distinguished reviewers.
2022 Creative Work Fund Grantees
Igbo choreographer and multimedia creative Nkeiruka Oruche (she/her) is collaborating with Black Cultural Zone to create Onwudiwe (MDG2), a new narrative-driven afro-urban dance performance work. “Onwudiwe,” “Death is bad” in Igbo, is the second in a series of “Mixtape for the Dead & Gone” stage productions and part of the Obi gbawara’m//My Heart Shattered or What happens after I die? project, which explores Igbo traditions of art and performance in death and mourning. Created via a series of community engagement workshops and ceremonies, a three-night run of MDG2 will be presented in June 2024 at Liberation Park, Oakland.
Florante Aguilar is collaborating with Cascada de Flores to create concert performances and a recording of traditional songs from the Philippines and Mexico. The project highlights the musical commonalities and connections between the two former colonial subjects of Spain, and explores how both countries made their respective genres their own. The October 2023 programs in San Francisco and Napa will also feature original compositions, which pay tribute to the traditions while inspiring a new musical conversation and interaction. The collaboration is supported by fiscal sponsorship from Philippine American Writers & Artists, Inc.
Muralist Pablo Ruiz Arroyo (he/him) is collaborating with Center for Independent Living on three murals in Berkeley and Oakland to honor the Center for Independent Living’s 50th anniversary, the birth of the independent living movement, and a vision for disability justice into the future. The works will be created with the artistic team of Pancho Pescador and disabled artists Charles Blackwell, Vanessa Castro, and Tiffany Hong.
Poet/Artist Kim Shuck (she/her) is collaborating with Clarion Alley Mural Project to create Manifest Differently, a multifaceted project involving 37 additional multigenerational artists and poets from different backgrounds. Using literary, visual, and media- arts storytelling in conjunction with public programming, the collaboration will explore the expansionist ideology of Manifest Destiny, its continuing impact on multi-cultural and multi-ethnic communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, its legacies of inherited and perpetuated violence, trauma, and addiction, and the outgrowth of resistance and resilience — giving fire to movements for social change. The collaboration is supported by fiscal sponsorship from Independent Arts & Media.
Gabriele Christian (they/them) is collaborating with CounterPulse to create mouth//full, an interdisciplinary work of dance, theater, and projection. This piece, a collaboration with Chibueze Crouch, explores traces left by faith in the Black body, as told through the testimonies of two artists from the African Diaspora. It premieres as a site-specific performance at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in concert with a series of workshops at the neighboring headquarters of CounterPulse in Spring 2024.
Oscar Lopez (he/him) is collaborating with Haight Street Art Center to create Murals for Food Justice, a collaborative mural-making project that will result in a large-scale public mural at Haight and Laguna streets and engage youth in an extended investigation of food justice issues in California.
Choreographer/Director Jess Curtis (he/him) is collaborating with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to create Into the Dark, a new ensemble work conceived and directed by Curtis, created and performed by a cast of five- to- seven culturally and racially diverse blind, low-vision, and sighted performers.
Kalinga Culture Bearer Jennilyn Young (she/her) is collaborating with Manilatown Heritage Foundation to present di Ullalim, an immersive cultural experience inspired by the community healing wisdom of the Philippine Kalinga culture. Presented as a live performance at San Francisco’s International Hotel Manilatown Center, it will be the first theatrical staging informed by the Philippine Kalinga epic poem, “The Ullalim,” and the first time that the art form of the Manuullalim (a bard who specializes in reciting “The Ullalim”) will be presented by both Kalinga and English-speaking bards.
Jason Nious is collaborating with Museum of Dance to create a multimedia, immersive exhibition, ROOTS: The Power of African-American and Black Dance in America, demonstrating the power of body percussion, Hip-Hop, and storytelling to heal, encourage reconciliation, and inspire hope. The work will inspire and advocate for further discussion and the ongoing centering of Black dance artists, promoting their voices, stories, and work.
Performance artist Lawrence Bogad (he/him) is collaborating with North Bay Jobs with Justice to create Sinfonía de la Justicia/A Symphony of Justice, which will engage indigenous farmworkers in Sonoma County in composing and performing trilingual monologues, Oaxacan/Zapotec music, and digital looping “economusic,” all based on the economic data of their lives and working conditions.
Scriptwriter Michael Gene Sullivan (he/him) is collaborating with San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company, co-creator Jamie Zimmer, choreographer Joanna Haigood, and the production’s director, designers, actors, and dancers to create the summer 2024 world premiere of Sign My Name to Freedom, a social justice musical theater production exploring the life and songs of Black Bay Area legend, activist, and centenarian Betty Reid Soskin.
Latinx theater artist Carolina Morones (she/her) is collaborating with Shakespeare-San Francisco to create a theatrical performance, Querida Sor Juana: The Death of the Phoenix of México, based on the writings of Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz, a poet, playwright, nun, and deviser of public spectacles in colonial Mexico. Rhis’s original bilingual script excerpts the nun’s letters as recollections dramatized in the final hours before her death. The work premieres in spring 2023 at the San Francisco Women’s Theater Festival.
Sarah Crowell (she/her) is collaborating with Dance Brigade and Keith Hennessy to develop and present Tell, a new work using dance and community process to explore racialized harm and potentials for racial healing. Tell will be created and presented at Dance Mission Theater beginning this November with a series of in-progress showings, a program of youth engagement, and a November 2023 premiere.
Cleavon Smith is collaborating with Walking Cinema to create Bop City Immersive, a live theater experience of Jimbo’s Bop City, the iconic mid-20th century, San Francisco diner and jazz venue where some of the most innovative jazz musicians played into the wee hours of the night and where San Francisco’s racial justice, music scene, and urban planning collided, in a dramatic and instructive way.
Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) is collaborating with Youth Beat, the Alphabet Rockers and youth from Youth Beat Studio to create The Movement: three music videos inspired by an upcoming album on themes of transformative justice. The collaboration is supported by fiscal sponsorship from Oakland Public Education Fund.
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).
Readers advising on the letter-of-inquiry review were: film programmer Gina Basso (she/her), visual artist co-founder of the mural collaborative Twin Walls Mural Company Elaine Chu (she/her), Aleina Hammonds (she/her), Program Associate in Performing Arts at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Midori Kawai (she/her), Rachel Lastimosa (she/they/siya), an interdisciplinary artist, producer and performer, scoring for theater and film that has toured nationally and internationally as a performing musician, tanea lunsford lynx, (they/them) writer, chair of the Spoken Arts Department at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, City College of San Francisco educator, and cultural worker; and Natalia Vigil (she/her), who participated as executive director of Queer Cultural Center before her appointment as program lead.
The Creative Work Fund will announce the next deadlines, guidelines, and informational webinars for interested applicants in January 2023. Information will be available at www.creativeworkfund.org.