2022 Rainin Fellows - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

2022 Rainin Fellows

The 2022 Rainin Fellows are visionary artists working across dance, film, public space and theater in the Bay Area.

Video featuring the 2022 Rainin Fellows. Video credit: Fox Nakai. (Ch’pinkxa tzalu tu’n tkux tujena toj qyol.)

In April 2022, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced the recipients of The Rainin Fellowship, an initiative now in its second year that supports visionary artists working across disciplines in the Bay Area.

Administered by United States Artists, the Fellowship awards four artists annually with unrestricted grants of $100,000, as well as supplemental support tailored to address each Fellow’s specific needs and goals, including financial planning, communications and marketing help, and legal services. The Fellowship funds artists working across dance, film, public space and theater who push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor local communities and advance the field. The 2022 Fellows were nominated by Bay Area artists and cultural leaders and selected through a two-part review process with the help of national reviewers and a panel of four local jurors.

Lea sobre los Becarios Rainin 2022 en español.

B’an tjaw tujena tib’aj 2022 Rainin Fellows toj qyol.

Collage of headshots of the 2022 Rainin Fellows.
The 2022 Rainin Fellows are (clockwise from top left) Maria Victoria Ponce (Film), NAKA Dance Theater (Dance), Ryan Nicole Austin (Theater) and Brett Cook (Public Space).

Meet The 2022 Rainin Fellows

Brett Cook | Public Space

Watch this short video with Brett Cook talking about his projects. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Brett Cook is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who uses storytelling to distill complex ideas and creative practices to transform outer and inner worlds of being. Using inquiry-based approaches, Cook designs inclusive processes and products that promote awareness and embody the complexity of loving communities. His public projects feature elaborate installations, community workshops, arts-integrated pedagogy, music, performance, food and more to create fluid boundaries between art-making, daily life and healing.

Accolades: Recognized for a history of socially relevant, community-engaged projects, he was selected as cultural ambassador to Nigeria as part of the US Department of State’s smARTpower Initiative. His work is in the collection of the Smithsonian/National Portrait Gallery, Walker Art Center and the Studio Museum of Harlem.

Maria Victoria Ponce | Film

Watch this short video with Maria Victoria Ponce talking about her films​. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Maria Victoria Ponce is a San Francisco Bay Area film writer and director. Ponce’s work navigates the complexities in the routine lives within poor and working-class neighborhoods: themes of immigration, sexuality and coming of age tend to recur. Through film, she aims to highlight the breadth and depth of the Latinx experience in the Bay Area, including her native Richmond. Ponce is a fellow at Cine Qua Non Lab, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Latino Media Market and Latino Screenwriting Project, as well as an artist resident at SFFILM FilmHouse.

Accolades: She was a finalist for Tribeca/AT&T Untold Stories 2019 and has received grants from PBS for “The Latino Experience” and from The Berkeley Film Foundation. Her films have played at Aesthetica Short Film Festival, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, Femme Frontera, San Diego Latino Film Festival, CineFestival San Antonio, Boston International Latino Film Festival, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and HBO/New York International Latino Film Festival, among others.

NAKA Dance Theater | Dance

Watch this short video with Debby Kajiyama and José Ome Navarrete Mazatl talking about NAKA Dance Theater’s work. Video credit: Fox Nakai (Ch’pinkxa tzalu tu’n tkux tujena toj qyol.)

NAKA Dance Theater is a socially engaged dance theater collective, founded by Debby Kajiyama and José Ome Navarrete Mazatl in 2001, that creates interdisciplinary, experimental performance works. Through dance, storytelling, multimedia installations and site-specific environments, NAKA builds community partnerships and engages people’s histories and culture through accessible performances to challenge viewers to think critically about social justice issues. Since 2015, NAKA has led somatic healing and performance workshops with the grassroots immigrant Latine community of Mujeres Unidas y Activas. NAKA facilitates Círculos de Aprendizaje (Collaborative Learning Circles) to identify critical issues facing a community, exchange ideas and implement strategies for healing and well-being.

Ryan Nicole Austin | Theater

Watch this short video with Ryan Nicole Austin talking about her work. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Ryan Nicole Austin is a Grammy-nominated polymath who finds her most fulfilling experiences at the intersection of art and activism. Austin has led productions as an actress, director and playwright at theater companies throughout the Bay Area. She is a writer and producer on the developmental teams for the musicals “Curren$y” and “CoFounders” and streaming series “American (G)race.” As a writer and performer, Austin is a two-time alumnus of The Public Theater’s #BARS Workshop led by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs.

Accolades: Austin has been featured on TEDx San Francisco and ESPN’s NBA at Christmas with Daveed Diggs and has performed for Google, Sony, LinkedIn, Apple and Barack Obama.

Media Coverage

How The 2022 Rainin Fellows Were Selected

Fellows were nominated by Bay Area artists and cultural leaders and selected through a two-part review process with the help of national reviewers and a panel of four Bay Area jurors.

National Reviewers


  • Rosie Herrera, Artistic Director, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre
  • Ali Rosa-Salas, Artistic Director, Abrons Arts Center
  • Tara Aisha Willis, Associate Curator, Performance & Public Practice, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Public Space

  • Leonardo Bravo, Director Curatorial and Strategic Programs, Clockshop
  • Carra Martinez, Director of Live in America, Fusebox Festival
  • Danielle Burns Wilson, Curator & Art Director, Project Row Houses


  • Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Co-Executive Director, Third Horizon
  • Ianeta Le’i, Senior Manager, Indigenous Program, Sundance Institute
  • Beatrice Loayza, Editor, Critic, Criterion Collection and New York Times


  • Pia Kishore Agrawal, Executive Director, Staten Island Arts
  • Armando Huipe, Theater Management Consultant
  • David J. Roberts, Executive Director, 651 ARTS

Bay Area Jurors

Headshot of Deena Chalabi

Deena Chalabi, Director of Partnerships, The OpEd Project

Headshot of Yayoi Kambara

Yayoi Kambara, choreographer and director, KAMBARA+

Headshot of Rosa Morales

Rosa Morales, Associate Manager of Narrative Film, SFFILM Makers

Headshot of Rebecca Novick

Rebecca Novick, theater-maker, writer and social practice artist