Let’s Talk: What Artists Need To Thrive - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Let’s Talk: What Artists Need To Thrive

"Let's Talk: What Artists Need To Thrive" is a series of Zoom conversations for artists to be in dialogue with arts funders.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is committed to ensuring that diverse, visionary artists thrive in the Bay Area. Systemic barriers have made access to funding for artists inequitable and complicated, especially for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and the organizations they lead. Let’s Talk is a live series of Zoom conversations we launched in December 2022 to address these issues directly by listening, engaging in meaningful dialogue and being accessible and transparent, especially with artists who have historically been unacknowledged by or excluded from philanthropy. The series is hosted by and co-created with Bay Area artist Beatrice Thomas. We will apply what we learn in these sessions to improve our approaches and advance equity.

The goals for this series are to:

  • Address issues that matter most to artists
  • Build connections with a wider community of artists
  • Exchange information
  • Create a more equitable arts ecosystem together

Read reflections from past sessions:

“‘Let’s Talk’ is our chance as artists to directly connect with a funder and shape the future of arts grantmaking. Whether you’ve never applied for a grant or have applied for dozens, we want your voice added to the chorus advocating for more equitable access to joy.”

Beatrice Thomas

Watch Past Session Recordings


This first event in December 2022 examined the central question: what do artists need to thrive? Guest panelists included Faiza Bukhari from the Elise and Walter Haas Fund and Margot Melcon from the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Panel and breakout room discussions focused on accessibility and equity in the grant application process.

Session One

In February 2023, Beatrice Thomas facilitated a conversation with queer artists discussing what they—and all artists—need to thrive. Speakers included artists Snowflake Arizmendi-Calvert, Monique Jenkinson, Marilet Martinez, Jean Melesaine and Mama Celeste aka Grey Tartaglione, and funders Jaime Cortez, William + Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Olivia Malabuyo Tablante, Gerbode Foundation.

Session Two

In April 2023, Beatrice Thomas facilitated a conversation with artists with disabilities to discuss what they—and all artists—need to thrive. Sessions were accessible via ASL interpretation and live captioning. Panelists included artists Claudia Alick, Antoine Hunter, Laurel Lawson and Judith Smith and funders Esther Grisham Grimm, 3Arts; and Lane Harwell, Ford Foundation.

Session Three

In May 2023, Beatrice Thomas facilitated a conversation with Indigenous artists to discuss what they—and all artists—need to thrive in 2023 and beyond. Speakers include artists Inez Hunter, Landa Lakes and Javier Stell-Fresquez, and funders Jonell Molina from the San Francisco Arts Commission and Reuben Roqueñi from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

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