The Creative Work Fund Announces 2017 Grantees


On August 1, the Creative Work Fund announced 15 new grant awards totaling $600,000 for artists creating new works through collaborations with nonprofit organizations. Grantees were selected through a competitive process that valued the quality of the artists’ track records, timeliness of their ideas, and clarity of their plans to work closely with their nonprofit partners.

The Creative Work Fund focuses exclusively on artists and nonprofits in 11 San Francisco Bay Area counties. Annually, it invites applications featuring artists who come from two broadly-defined artistic genres. The 2017 awards feature literary artists and traditional artists, with the new grantees coming from a wide range of disciplines.

The writers include essayists/creative nonfiction authors Adriana Camarena (with Accion Latina); Andrew Lam (with Pacific Links Foundation); and Malcolm Margolin (with the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California, Berkeley); fiction writer Katie Gilmartin (with Openhouse); and multi-disciplinary poets/fiction writers/performers Paul Flores (with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts); Baruch Porras-Hernandez (with Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino American, Inc.); and Gary Soto (with San Francisco Youth Theater).

The traditional artists represent far-flung practices and traditions including the urban mural movement represented by Edythe Boone (with Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients); African dance represented by Muisi-kongo Malonga (with One East Palo Alto); African and African American music represented by (Dennis) Tobaji Stewart (with Inner City Services); Chinese opera represented by Zhaoxin Chen (with Chinese Performing Arts Foundation);  Indian kathak dance represented by Farah Yasmeen Shaikh (with EnActe Arts); Mexican music represented by Russell Rodriguez (with Teatro Vision de San Jose);  Sufi music represented by Issa Golitzen Farajaje (with Zawaya); and Tibetan opera represented by Sonam Phuntsok (with the Tibetan Association of Northern California).

While the selected projects are wide-ranging, timely themes ran across many of them, including the danger of losing the stories, art practices, and life experiences of aging adults – be they from the LGBTQ community or the Tibetan diaspora; rapid change in the character of Bay Area neighborhoods and communities, such as South Berkeley and San Francisco’s Mission District; and the need to strengthen cross-generational understanding through experiments in African music, Chinese opera, and speculative fiction.  Projects also deal with lost histories such as the West Berkeley Shell Mound and the community of “Little Nairobi” (now East Palo Alto).

At a time of rising costs in the region, contributing to stressful commutes and evictions from studios and galleries; and of fresh threats to federal support for the arts, the Creative Work Fund stands by the message that artists need and deserve philanthropic support.

In 2018, it will award approximately $600,000 in grants for projects featuring media artists or performing artists. To assist the next round of applicants, the Foundation Center is hosting a free live workshop at its San Francisco training center on September 12 at 3 p.m. and three free Webinars on August 30 at noon, September 25 at 6 pm, and October 10 at noon.


Frances Phillips is the program director for The Creative Work Fund.