In March 2021, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced four Bay Area artists as the inaugural recipients of The Rainin Fellowship. These artists each received unrestricted grants of $100,000, as well as supplemental support tailored to address their specific needs and goals, including financial planning, communications and marketing help, and legal services.
Administered by United States Artists, The Rainin 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 2021 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.
Meet the 2021 Rainin Fellows
Amara Tabor-Smith | Dance
Amara Tabor-Smith is an Oakland-based choreographer and performance maker who describes her work as Afrofuturist Conjure Art. Her creative process as a dance maker is rooted in collaboration, spiritual ritual and questions of identity and belonging. Her movement vocabulary is inspired by improvisation, Butoh and African Diaspora dance traditions. Amara is the Artistic Director of Deep Waters Dance Theater, which she founded in 2006 with the goal of inspiring dialogue. The ensemble focuses on social and environmental justice issues, race, gender, cultural identity and spirituality. Her work has been presented in venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, nationally and internationally.
Accolades: Amara is an artist-in-residence at Stanford University. She is a 2020 recipient of the Hewlett 50 grant with East Side Arts Alliance, a 2019 Dance/USA Fellow, 2018 United States Artists Fellow and a 2018 recipient of KQED’s “Bay Brilliant” award. She was honored on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 list.
Rodrigo Reyes | Film
Rodrigo Reyes is an Oakland-based Mexican filmmaker. His films are deeply grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist and an outsider to two cultures. Using a poetic language that combines fictional and documentary elements, he hopes to capture the contradictory nature of our divided world while revealing our potential for transformative change. His work has screened at local, national and international film festivals. He is a member of SFFILM’s Diversity Advisory Board.
Accolades: Rodrigo’s latest film “499” won Best Cinematography at Tribeca and the Special Jury Award at Hot Docs, and will be distributed in the US in Summer 2021. Rodrigo is a recipient of the Sundance Spotlight on Storytellers Award, Guggenheim Fellowship and Creative Capital Award. In 2020, the Minneapolis Film Society held the first-ever retrospective of Rodrigo’s films. Rodrigo is a winner of the Pacific Pioneer Fund and the Berkeley Film Foundation Saul Zaentz Award.
People’s Kitchen Collective | Public Space
People’s Kitchen Collective works at the intersection of art and activism as a food-centered political education project. Based in Oakland, California and co-founded by Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson and Saqib Keval, People’s Kitchen Collective is rooted in decolonization with the belief that written in our family’s recipes are the maps of our migrations and the stories of our resilience. Their immersive, accessible community dining experiences celebrate centuries of shared survival. The group believes that sharing food with each other is a powerful tool for organizing communities. Their “Kitchen Remedies” project was installed at the Smithsonian in 2016.
Accolades: In 2020, People’s Kitchen Collective received a Creative Capital Award. They have also been named “Rising Star Chef” by the San Francisco Chronicle, honored on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 list and presented with the advocate award at the Center for Asian American Media Feast.
Margo Hall | Theater
Margo Hall is an award-winning actor, director, playwright and educator. She has been a leading performer and director in the Bay Area for over 30 years. In 2020 she was appointed the new Artistic Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theater of San Francisco, one of the nation’s premier homes of Black theater. Hall’s film credits include “Blindspotting” with Daveed Diggs and the Netflix film “All Day and A Night.” She is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Chabot College in the Theater Department. She is also a founding member of Campo Santo, a multicultural theater company in San Francisco, where she has directed, performed in and collaborated on numerous plays.
Accolades: In 2018, Margo was awarded the Jerry Friedman Lifetime Achievement Award by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.
- Op-Ed: Artists Are Facing Unprecedented Hardship. To Help Them, Philanthropists Must Change The Way They Work—By Working Together (artnet)
- Oakland Artists Earn $100,000 Grants Through New Cultural Fellowship Program (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Rainin Fellowship Awards $100,000 Grants To Four Bay Area Artists (KQED)
- Two Nonprofits Team Up To Offer $100,000 Grants To Artists In The Bay Area (The Art Newspaper)
How The 2021 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.
- Anna Glass, Executive Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem
- Arthur Avilés, Artistic Director, The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!)
- Pramila Vasudevan, Founder and Artistic Director, Aniccha Arts
- Diya Vij, Associate Curator, Creative Time
- Lizania Denisse Cruz, Public Space Artist
- Prerana Reddy, Independent Cultural Producer and Planner
- Ilyse McKimmie, Deputy Director, Feature Film Program, Sundance Institute
- Miriam Bale, Artistic Director, Indie Memphis
- Nehad Khader, Program Director, BlackStar Projects
- Claudia Alick, Executive Producer, Calling Up Justice
- Meiyin Wang, Producing Director, The Perelman Center
- Meropi Peponides, Co-founder, Radical Evolution; Director of Artistic Development & Producing at Soho Rep
Bay Area Jurors
Laura Elaine Ellis, Co-Founder and Director, African & African American Performing Arts Coalition
Lisa Evans, co-founder, “How Spirit Moves Us Project” and “#BreakingtheBinary Project.”
Stephen Gong, Executive Director, Center for Asian American Media
Weston Teruya, one-third of Related Tactics, a collective of transdisciplinary artists of color