2023 Rainin Fellows - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

2023 Rainin Fellows

The 2023 Rainin Fellows are visionary artists working across dance, film, public space and theater in the Bay Area.

Short video featuring the 2023 Rainin Fellows. Video credit: Fox Nakai.

In April 2023, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced the recipients of The Rainin Fellowship, an initiative now in its third 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 2023 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 2023 en español. 

Basahin sa Tagalog ang tungkol sa 2023 Rainin Fellows.

collage of four rainin fellows headshots
The 2023 Rainin Fellows are (clockwise from top left): Joanna Haigood (Dance), Mohammad Gorjestani (Film), Sean San José (Theater) and Related Tactics (Public Space).

Meet The 2023 Rainin Fellows

Joanna Haigood | Dance

Watch this short video with Joanna Haigood talking about her projects. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Joanna Haigood is a choreographer and site artist who has been creating work that uses natural, architectural, and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative since 1980. Haigood’s stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by arts institutions including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, the Exploratorium Museum, the National Black Arts Festival and Festival d’Avignon. Haigood has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the École Nationale des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, and many more, including members of her company Zaccho Dance Theatre.

Accolades: Guggenheim Fellowship, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, USA Fellowship, New York Bessie Award and the Doris Duke Artist Award

Mohammad Gorjestani | Film

Watch this short video with Mohammad Gorjestani talking about his films​. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Mohammad Gorjestani is a director, photographer, multidisciplinary artist and founder of award-winning creative studio and production company Even/Odd. His work exists between fiction and nonfiction forms with an aesthetic and perspective emerging from the community and cultures that raised him as a first-generation immigrant from Iran growing up in Bay Area public housing. Recent films and shorts include “Sister Hearts,” “Refuge” and “Exit 12,” which was acquired by Searchlight Pictures. He is the artist behind “1-800 Happy Birthday,” an installation featuring phone booths-turned-memorials of birthday voicemails left for the victims of police killings. Gorjestani is a founding partner of The Adachi Project, a first-of-its-kind storytelling project with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

Accolades: “Exit 12 won the Jury Prize at SXSW, Camden International Film Festival and seven other Oscar-qualifying festivals; and earned Vimeo’s Video of the Year Award. He has earned twelve Vimeo Staff Picks and six Webby Awards.

Related Tactics | Public Space

Watch this short video with Related Tactics’ co-founders Nate Watson, Michele Carlson and Weston Teruya talking about their collective’s work. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Related Tactics is an artistic collaboration formed in 2015 between artists and cultural workers Michele Carlson, Weston Teruya and Nathan Watson. These three artists of color came together to proactively and specifically address the impacts of systemic racism and white supremacy and create spaces for mutual support and transformation. Their projects explore the connections between art, movements for social justice and the public through transdisciplinary exchanges, collective making and dialogue. Related Tactics’ projects have been presented by Wexner Center for the Arts, Berkeley Art Center, The Luminary, Center for Craft, Southern Exposure and Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco.

Sean San José | Theater

Watch this short video with Sean San José talking about his work. Video credit: Fox Nakai

Sean San José is a writer, director, performer and co-founder of Campo Santo, a performance group for People of Color in San Francisco. Founded in 1996, Campo Santo is committed to developing new performances and to nurturing People of Color-centered audiences and has premiered over one hundred new works. San José is in his second year as the Artistic Director at the Magic Theatre, where he is the first Person of Color to hold the position in the history of the theatre. For the prior fifteen years, San José was the Program Director of Performance for Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco’s oldest alternative arts space. He co-created Alma Delfina Group-Teatro Contra el SIDA and “Pieces of the Quilt,” a collection of over fifty short plays on AIDS. Writing commissions and productions include “Play On! for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Ictus Productions, Kronos Quartet, KULARTS and others.

Media Coverage

How The 2023 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


  • Dominique Atwood, Executive Director, Dance Connect Worldwide
  • Lisa Gonzales, Chair of Dance, Associate Professor of Dance, Columbia College Chicago
  • Paz Tanjuaquio, Co-Founding Director, TOPAZ ARTS

Public Space

  • Ka Oskar Ly, Artist
  • Nico Rodriguez, Associate Director of Projects, Monument Lab
  • Roya Amirsoleymani, Artistic Director & Curator of Public Engagement, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art


  • Casey Emile Baron, Producer & Festival Director, Austin Film Festival
  • Jennifer Wilson, Senior Programmer, Film Independent
  • Zandashé Brown, Director, Programmer


  • Hana Sharif, Artistic Director, Repertory Theatre Of St. Louis
  • Lauren Turner Hines, Producing Artistic Director, No Dream Deferred NOLA; Chief Artistic Director, Andre’ Cailloux Center for Performing Arts and Cultural Justice
  • Rita Valente-Quinn, Producing Director, Motus Theater

Bay Area Jurors

Headshot of Rotimi Agbabiaka

Rotimi Agbabiaka, actor, writer, director and teacher

Headshot of Fay Darmawi

Fay Darmawi, Founder and Executive Director, SF Urban Film Fest

Headshot of Lily Kharrazi

Lily Kharrazi, Director of Special Initiatives, Alliance for California Traditional Arts

Headshot of PJ Gubatina Policarpio

PJ Gubatina Policarpio, educator, writer, curator and community organizer