The Rainin Fellowship supports visionary Bay Area artists working in dance, film, public space and theater. This prestigious fellowship recognizes and supports artists who push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor local communities and advance the field. Visionary artists illuminate our experiences and envision pathways to more vibrant communities. They can help us to heal and show us a way forward.
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 Rainin Fellowship aims to support artists holistically to build a more equitable arts ecosystem.
2023 Rainin Fellows
The 2023 Rainin Fellows are Joanna Haigood (Dance), Mohammad Gorjestani (Film), Sean San José (Theater) and Related Tactics (Public Space).
2022 Rainin Fellows
The 2022 Rainin Fellows are Brett Cook (Public Space), Maria Victoria Ponce (Film), NAKA Dance Theater (Dance) and Ryan Nicole Austin (Theater).
2021 Rainin Fellows
The 2021 Rainin Fellows are Amara Tabor-Smith (Dance), Margo Hall (Theater), People’s Kitchen Collective (Public Space) and Rodrigo Reyes (Film).
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are frequently asked questions about the Fellowship. Click on each question to reveal its answer.
What is the goal of the Fellowship?
The Rainin Fellowship was launched in March 2021 to support anchor Bay Area artists working across four different disciplines—dance, film, public space and theater—who have exhibited authentic community connection and a deep commitment to the region. The Fellowship recognizes artists who reflect the diverse communities of the Bay Area. It was designed to have a significant impact on the life of an artist or collaborative working in the Bay Area.
How are the Rainin Fellows chosen?
Individual artists and collaboratives are anonymously nominated to apply by a diverse group of Bay Area artists, arts leaders and cultural organizers. Fellows are then selected through a two-part review process. First, national readers review applications. This group is composed of artists, curators and arts administrators chosen for their expertise in their respective disciplines of dance, ﬁlm, public space and theater. Then, the final cohort is selected with the help of four jurors from the Bay Area arts community.
At each stage of this process United States Artists, who administers the Fellowship, engages artists, nominators, reviewers and panelists from a range of backgrounds and works with community leaders to ensure the applicant pool includes artists of color, immigrant artists, disabled artists, LGBTQIAP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual +) artists and others who have historically been excluded from funding support.
What do Rainin Fellows receive?
Rainin Fellows receive an unrestricted $100,000 grant, which the artists can use on whatever benefits their lives or careers—housing, health care or future projects. Fellows also receive tailored supplemental support, such as financial planning, communications and marketing help, and/or legal services to address their unique needs and specific goals. The Rainin Fellowship was designed to include this combination of an unrestricted grant and supplemental support to have a significant impact on the life of an artist working in the Bay Area, a region with one of the highest costs of living in the country.
The Fellowship is administered by United States Artists, a national arts funding nonprofit that supports the country’s most compelling artists and cultural practitioners.
How was the Fellowship award amount decided upon?
In the initial research phase of designing the Fellowship, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and United States Artists heard from Bay Area artists across disciplines and at various career stages who pointed to the unique challenges of building a sustainable arts practice in the region. Artists emphasized the need for significant support in consideration of exorbitant and ever-rising housing costs, closing venues and increasingly dispersed networks. By offering substantial, unrestricted funds of $100,000 each, which Fellows can use in whatever way is most helpful to them, The Rainin Fellowship seeks to have a significant impact on the Fellows’ lives in order to help them sustain their creative practices and thrive in the Bay Area.
The Rainin Foundation is deeply committed to helping Bay Area artists thrive in today’s economy, as well as creating optimal conditions for art to be made. The Rainin Fellowship is one strategy to support diverse artists. The Foundation’s grantmaking also encourages experimentation and supports arts organizations and artists to produce project-based or performance works. Acknowledging that the system for funding art is not sustainable, the Foundation and artists are also working together and leading systemic change toward a more resilient and equitable ecosystem. View the Arts Program Snapshot to learn more about how we do our work.