The Creative Work Fund is pleased to award 25 new grants to Greater Bay Area artists collaborating with nonprofit organizations to develop new works of dance, film, music, theater, visual arts, and more. Supported projects reveal artists’ profound commitment to their practice and their communities at a time when many have faced hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Fund celebrates its largest annual cohort of grantees and the first year when it has been able to award more than $1 million.
Many of the funded projects speak to the moment, addressing the aggressive outbreak of COVID-19 among Latinx residents of San Francisco’s Mission District, the rise in domestic violence during shelter-in-place health mandates, the South Asian community’s expression of solidarity with the movement for Black lives, and the need to heal and preserve land for Indigenous communities. Other ask how artists can change an institution’s approach to fully accommodating artists and audiences with disabilities, or how movement can contribute to healing of people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Still others investigate, through movement, film, and sound recordings, the impacts of development, pollution, and climate change on sacred rivers in India, the high desert landscape in the United States, and communities at the edges of the San Francisco Bay.
Program director Frances Phillips comments, “Creative Work Fund grants invest in artistic development through supporting the gestation of new works. The Fund values artists as catalysts for social change and contributors to the well-being of their communities, and also as seekers, revealers, and researchers. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great financial and personal hardships for artists, many of these projects demonstrate innovative ways they have adapted and collaborated; and many of us have sought solace and meaning from the arts during a time of fear and mourning.”
Since 1994, the Creative Work Fund has awarded $15.4 million to advance art-making by San Francisco Bay Area artists working in a variety of disciplines. The 2021 grants, which range in size from $33,000-$45,000, were highly competitive and recommended to the Fund by multidisciplinary committees of distinguished reviewers. The 2021 Creative Work Fund Grantees are:
Paul Flores, in collaboration with Acción Latina, will create, We Are Essential/Somos Esenciales, a community art and research project that explores the impact of COVID-19 on Latinx health outcomes in San Francisco’s Mission District. The project aims to humanize the pandemic’s impact on Latinx day laborers and domestic workers. It will culminate with a multimedia performance and video installation.
In Songs for Many Lives: a Carnatic Diaspora Songbook, lead artist Sruti Sarathy and Roopa Mahadevan are composing a new Carnatic repertoire that reflects contemporary concerns of South Asian Americans. The musicians are partnering with Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, which is dedicated to civic engagement of South Asians in the Bay Area with an emphasis on advocating for those with marginalized identities.
Installation artist Taro Hattori, in collaboration with ARTogether, is instigating conversations between refugees and non-refugees, helping them to bridge gaps of understanding and alleviate isolation through dialogue, singing, and shared narratives. The resulting public art exhibition, Pedaling Point, will feature six confessional-like, enclosed structures, each attached to a bicycle to highlight the restricted mobility of refugees. Audience members will experience the stories and songs within the enclosures.
Reflecting on objects from the Asian Art Museum’s Philippine and Filipino American collection, Alleluia Panis will develop a new work with composer Josh Icban and new media artist Wilfred Galila that is rooted in Pilipinx futurism. The project will culminate with a multidisciplinary ritual performance titled Anting Anting Soul Dance and a community dialogue.
&theruptureisnow is a multimedia performance piece instigated by lead artist jose e. abad in co-authorship with Styles Alexander, Gabriele Christian, Clarissa Dyas, and Stephanie Hewett. The artists propose to hybridize improvisation, contemporary dance, electronic music, digital visual landscapes, altar installations, rituals of healing, and exorcisms through somatic state-work. Working in partnership with Authentic Arts & Media, these artists ask, “…how can we create the conditions for future Black anchor artists in the Bay Area to emerge and thrive?”
Fashion and textile artist Bayo Agbelekale is collaborating with the vertical dance company Bandaloop to craft costumes and a large-scale textile installation and set design, within which Bandaloop’s vertical dance theater piece Loom will be performed. LOOM brings together a collective of performing artists, climate scientists, regenerative textile artists, a visual technologist, and creative riggers to create a large scale, free, outdoor public performance.
Documentary filmmaker Chris Temple is partnering with Julio, an undocumented minor from a rural village in Guatemala; Brenda Avila Hanna; and the Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts & Technology (BAYCAT) to create a documentary short about Julio’s life from Julio’s point of view. Temple and other filmmaking professionals will work alongside Julio while he tells his story on film and simultaneously learns the technical side of filmmaking as an intern at BAYCAT.
Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe is collaborating with Brava for Women in the Arts to develop Black to the Future: An Afro-Futuristic Crusade, the first original ensemble-created production by Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience (BACCE), whose artistic director is Cooper-Anifowoshe. Black to the Future was conceived from a series of conversations over the past three years in which BACCE company members examined questions of Blackness and the future, ever expanding views of the African American identity, and their notions of and desires for peace and freedom.
Alka Raghuram and Chitresh Das Institute will create a live dance, music, and multimedia work and a short dance film illuminating the intersecting mythology and pollution of India’s sacred Jamuna and Ganges rivers. Filmmaker Raghuram will work with choreographer Charlotte Moraga and the kathak dancers of Chitresh Das Institute, classical Indian musician and composer Utsav Lal, and others to create the performance. A related dance film will expand audiences for the piece.
ReImagine! unites Cava Lee Menzies with the Community Music Center to instigate 100 new works, made in collaboration and presented online. This project evolved from online collaborations that Menzies created in the initial weeks of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place period that enabled her to connect with other musicians, former students, and colleagues. Now she will expand on the process, working with diverse artists, including approximately 50 middle and high school students, community leaders, and others. The project will culminate as part of the Center’s centennial celebration.
Developed through a three-year collaboration between multi-disciplinary performance artist Rotimi Agbabiaka and Cutting Ball Theater, Uptown looking Downtown will celebrate Black excellence and reflect on the complexity and variety of the Black experience in the United States. Inspired by the collages of Romare Bearden (1911-1988), the work will span artforms, and the collaborators intend to radicalize pathways to reflective community storytelling. Uptown Looking Downtown will be produced as part of Cutting Ball Theater’s 2023-24 season.
Through Asian American Virtual Histories, artist Kristian Kabuay, in partnership with Kearny Street Workshop, will expand on a prior project that explores the cultural impact of Pilipinx arts activism in San Francisco, adding to it stories from San Francisco’s Chinatown, including Kearny Street Workshop’s involvement in the fight for the International Hotel in the 1970s. Also partnering in this evolving Virtual Reality work are Balay Kreative and Chinatown-based artist Kayan Cheung-Miaw.
Performing artists Sitalbanat Muktari and Ellen Sebastian Chang are collaborating with The Kitchen Sisters – radio producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva – to create an intergenerational project titled The Keepers: House/Full of Black Women, encompassing an hour-long radio documentary, several podcasts, and social media stories about the keeping, archiving, and passing on of Black women’s herstories. The archive will be based on the lives, stories, and art of the women who created the Oakland performance group House/Full of Black Women.
Elena Ayodele Pinderhughes, her musical collaborator Lionel Loueke, and Kuumbwa Jazz Society are collaborating to create a five-part musical suite, African Diaspora Journey, exploring the myriad musical traditions that have uplifted the Black community in the context of oppression, racism, and social inequality. The work will blend jazz, blues, Afro-beat, Afro-Latin, and gospel music; and it will premiere at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, performed by the collaborating artists.
Media and video artist Ian Winters and Leonardo/International Society for Arts Sciences and Technology, Inc. will create Domestic Light, exploring our relationship to the character of light, home, and the passage of time. A network of multi-spectral color sensors will be hosted in domestic window sills in each time zone around the world to document the literal color of “home” over the 2021-22 solar year. Monthly sound recordings from each sensor host and the multi-spectral color data will provide raw material for a series of new installation light-sound works in San Francisco and Richmond, a live online work, and a broad Bay Area engagement program.
Artist Terry Berlier and composer Sarah Hennies are collaborating with The Living Earth Show to create A Kind of Ache, an installation and concert-length work that “deconstructs, reconstructs, and queers everyday objects to investigate the possibility of creating queer space.” Connected by a fascination with what they term “queer objects,” such as discarded pan lids, Berlier and Hennies will collaborate in bringing together and creating percussive objects for the first time in a new installation and will perform on them as part of an ensemble that includes the two musicians who make up The Living Earth Show.
Classical Cambodian dancer and choreographer Charya Burt and select Mosaic Fellows from Mosaic America will create Beautiful Dark, a collaborative dance piece with live original music that explores the social and psychological impact of colorism (the discrimination against individuals with darker skin tones, typically among people of the same ethnic group) including the social phenomenon of skin whitening and the physical, emotional, and cultural implications it has for persons of color.
ZiRu Dance, led by Philein Wang, will collaborate with One Life Counseling (One Life) to conduct research, create and lead a series of movement classes, and choreograph a new dance work exploring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over the course of a year, dancers from ZiRu Dance and therapists at One Life will research the value of introducing movement therapy dance classes to One Life patients. From this connection, ZiRu Dance will build a movement vocabulary for a new dance work that will follow the story of visual artist Areta Wang, who suffers from PTSD and who will be a key collaborator on the project.
Ryan Nicole Austin and San Francisco Baykeeper are creating a dynamic new work of music using hip hop to raise awareness of environmental threats facing the Bay Area. Baykeeper will host RyanNicole on Bay boat patrols so that she will experience firsthand the wildness of the Bay and its shorelines and its interconnectedness with local communities. This and other research will inspire her creations. Also collaborating is Hip Hop for Change, which uses grassroots activism and hip hop culture and its expression to educate about socioeconomic injustices and solutions.
Polytempo Music, a collaboration between Brian Baumbusch and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, will explore the development of complex musical time under circumstances of isolation and disjunct collaboration. Baumbusch will compose a piece that performers can collaborate on remotely and that can be performed live when appropriate. The resulting recording will be released on Albany Records, and the partners will release a VR performance of the work in 2023.
Performance artist Dohee Lee is collaborating with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust to create When the Land Stands Alone, an effort to unite through shamanic practice two communities of indigenous practitioners in Huichin Village (the Ohlone name for Oakland) and on Jeju Island, South Korea. In each location, Lee will interact with traditional practitioners of community ritual and healing, studying how indigenous practices evolve when the lands they are practiced on have been impacted by colonization and environmental destruction. This process will culminate in four seasonal public ritual performances in 2023 at sacred Ohlone sites in Oakland.
Cristóbal Martinez and Southern Exposure are collaborating to create Hallucinations of Remembrance and Imminence, combining the artist’s research into the high desert landscape and ecosystem with development of a new exhibition comprising immersive and interactive sound installations, commissioned performances, a conversation series, an original LP, and a print publication.
To create “Love Shouldn’t Hurt,” and lift the voices of domestic violence survivors, artist Patricia Montgomery will work closely with the director of client services at STAND! for Families Free of Violence, facilitating focus groups that explore clients’ experiences and celebrate their work to heal. The finished installation will take the form of a wedding dress salon and will feature floor-length mirrors marked with domestic violence statistics and mannequins wearing fashionable wedding garments that have been embroidered, painted, and quilted with stories from STAND!’s survivors. The garments also will be featured in a fashion show at STAND!’s annual community event.
Sean San Jose, working with SOMA Pilipinas and other API artists, musicians, and filmmakers, will create the world premiere piece, Dugo, I don’t want her to go, exploring memories of the time before AIDS in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Looking at 30+ years of AIDS through the perspective of Pilipino families, the collaborators will cull and curate stories from the community through writing, video, dance, and photography workshops. In addition to Sean San Jose’s script, the work will feature a score by Rachel Lastimosa and video by Joan Osato.
Alice Sheppard with Kinetic Light (KL) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) are collaborating to create The Next T.i.M.es, a collaborative dance project using disability access as a creative and generative practice as well as an engine of organizational justice and social change. The collaboration will encompass a month-long residency for the artists at YBCA, a performance, and an ongoing sonic installation.
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 and an anonymous donor. 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 11 greater Bay Area counties (extending from Napa and Sonoma to Monterey and Santa Cruz).
Distinguished panelists and advisors assisted in the 2021 grant selection. They were: Rob Bailis, artistic and executive director of The Broad Stage, Santa Monica; musician and composer Derek Bermel, artistic director of American Composers Orchestra; Walter Kitundu, multidisciplinary artist and educator and director, Kitundu Studio; Rose Kuo, founder of FestWorks, a bi-coastal entertainment consulting firm; Kris Kuramitsu, contemporary art curator and consultant and deputy director and head of program at The Mistake Room in Los Angeles; Sabrina Lynn Motley, director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; and KJ Sanchez, founder and CEO of American Records and Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin, and head of the MFA Playwriting/Directing program.
Advising on the letter-of-inquiry review were folklorist, anthropologist, and cultural worker Julián Carrillo; Debbie Chinn, managing director, Anna Deavere Smith’s Pipeline Project; Helena Keeffe Del Pesco, owner and chef, Larder Baltimore; Jessica Gomula-Kruzic, co-director, Creative Media, California State University, Stanislaus; choreographer Risa Jaroslow, Risa Jaroslow & Dancers; Evran Odcikin, associate artistic director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and artist, writer, and curator Leyla Weefur, lecturer, Stanford University.
The Creative Work Fund will announce the next deadlines, guidelines, and informational webinars for interested applicants in spring 2022. Information will be available at www.creativeworkfund.org.