Photo credit: Lydia Daniller
Sean Dorsey Dance’s “The Lost Art of Dreaming” was an invitation to embrace expansive imagination, connect with joy and pleasure and propel ourselves toward a loving future.
Creating A Thriving Ecosystem For Artists
In times of hardship and uncertainty, visionary artists illuminate our experiences and envision pathways to more vibrant communities. They gather us to find joy, heal deep wounds and summon our own creative power to mend what is broken. In 2022, Bay Area artists and cultural organizations continued to imagine and make captivating works of art that centered communities despite ongoing challenges.
The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is committed to creating a more just, equitable ecosystem for artists to thrive. Our Arts Program evolved its strategies and approaches to reflect artists’ changing practices. We remain focused on listening and learning from diverse visionaries and being responsive to community-defined needs.
“We are committed to engaging in the regenerative process of building the equitable future we all desire and deserve. Our guiding values will be creativity, interdependence and trust.”
—Shelley Trott, Chief Program Officer
Photo credit: Robbie Sweeny
Dancer Chloe Luo in “And the Community Will Rise” by Lenora Lee Dance in collaboration with Chinatown Development Center. Inspired by individual stories and community strength, this project evolved during the pandemic to become 12 site-specific dance performances around and within the Ping Yuen housing complex in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Centering Community Health And Connection
Artists and arts organizations rose to new challenges with resilience, compassion and ingenuity. New & Experimental Works (NEW) Program and Open Spaces Program grantees tended to communities amid the rise of hate crimes and ongoing COVID concerns. Detour Dance and Kat Gorospe Cole made “Quake,” which centered around mental health and ancestral connection in the Asian American diaspora. The 500 Capp Street Foundation, with lead artist Marcel Pardo Ariza, is developing “Orquídea/Orchids” to create a safe space for the trans Latinx community in the Mission.
The arts community continued to safely present their work and bring audiences together—moving outdoors for live performances, creating hybrid platforms and filming productions. Chinatown Community Development Center with lead artists Francis Wong, Lenora Lee and Ilaria Salvadori adapted “And the Community Will Rise” to feature site-specific outdoor dance and film. The project explores the significant role Ping Yuen affordable housing complex residents play in defending against cultural displacement and ensuring San Francisco’s social, political and cultural integrity. Sean Dorsey Dance’s “The Lost Art of Dreaming” used live performance, film and online tools to invite trans, gender non-conforming and queer communities to think expansively and joyfully about their futures.
“Dancing on stage in my trans body is always a political act. Declaring our trans and queer communities worthy of joyous liberated futures is a revolutionary act.”
The 2022 Rainin Fellows
Video credit: Fox Nakai
This video features the 2022 Rainin Fellows—Brett Cook (Public Space), Maria Victoria Ponce (Film), NAKA Dance Theater (Dance) and Ryan Nicole Austin (Theater).
Supporting Artists Through Intermediaries
Partnering with grantmaking intermediaries is a key strategy in our support of artists working in dance, public space, theater and film. In April, we announced our second cohort of Rainin Fellows, in partnership with United States Artists. Four visionary Bay Area artists received $100,000 unrestricted grants and tailored supplemental support for their wide-ranging creative practices. Interdisciplinary artist and educator Brett Cook designs public projects that reflect and embody the complexity of loving communities. Film writer and director Maria Victoria Ponce highlights the vibrant, multilayered dimensions of poor and working class Latinx lives in the Bay Area. NAKA Dance Theater founders Debby Kajiyama and José Ome Navarrete Mazatl engage people’s histories and culture through interdisciplinary, experimental performance works. And Grammy-nominated creative Ryan Nicole Austin locates her practice at the intersection of art and activism.
Creating a more inclusive film landscape by ensuring broad access to artistic and financial support is at the heart of our partnership with SFFILM. The SFFILM Rainin Grant supported diverse filmmakers and stories that spanned generations, genders, continents and cultural borders. The SFFILM Rainin Filmmaker with Disabilities grant was awarded to writer Sarah Granger for “The Pain-Free Day.” The film explores the strained relationship of a teenage daughter and her mother who is housebound with severe pelvic pain.
“Arts funding could better respond to the socio-political crisis of the day by identifying and supporting artists who are central to their communities.”
Photo credit: Rich Lomibao
“Emergent Landscapes” featured 14 local artists of color, predominantly Black and Brown womxn, using dance and multidisciplinary arts performances within Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in Oakland.
Adapting Strategies To Center Artists
We further adapted our grantmaking strategies and practices to center and support artists in a time of dramatic changes. The arts community faced ongoing pandemic impacts, including a slow return of live audiences, rising costs and worker displacement. To acknowledge these strains, our Open Spaces and New & Experimental Works (NEW) grantmaking programs expanded our support beyond fully produced projects to include early-stage development and works in progress. To relieve burdens on applicants and grantees, we streamlined our application and shortened the time for funding decisions. To extend our resources as much as possible in our NEW Program, we committed to funding at least 80% recommended applicants’ requested amount. Half of the grant funds remained unrestricted to address grantees’ general operating needs.
We investigated expanding the role of intermediaries in our grantmaking. Our aim is to continue breaking down power dynamics and other systemic barriers facing historically excluded artists. While this exploration continues, we paused future application cycles for our NEW and Open Spaces Programs.
We also advanced our learning practices. We developed an equity-driven evaluation framework and continued collecting demographic data to better understand who our grantmaking serves and clarify gaps in our funding. Pamela Mattera, the Foundation’s first Arts Program Fellow, also explored new ways to engage the Bay Area’s cultural community, especially those who have been historically excluded from philanthropy. In December, we piloted Let’s Talk: What Artists Need To Thrive in partnership with Beatrice Thomas and Authentic Arts & Media. This virtual series brings us in direct conversation with artists about their evolving practices and needs. Their creativity and wisdom are essential to shaping solutions for a more equitable, vibrant future.
“We can advance our learning and accelerate systems change by centering artists.”
—Ted Russell, Rainin Foundation, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures
VISONARY ARTISTS ENGAGE COMMUNITIES
Open Spaces Program
Video credit: Jamie DeWolf
“Commons Archive” began during the pandemic and evolved into “HEAR/HERE,” a community billboard truck. The project aims to gather stories, share memories and build neighbor relationships in North Oakland’s Golden Gate neighborhood.
Significant Benchmarks For Bold Experiments
Our multi-year investments have funded bold approaches to help Bay Area artists and arts organizations thrive. On the cusp of their 10-year anniversary, Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) celebrated milestones that point to its success in securing affordable arts and cultural spaces. CounterPulse, CAST’s partner in testing their innovative real estate model, prepared to purchase its building, a goal they’ve been working toward for nearly 10 years. CounterPulse is proof that this new national model of sustainability for the arts works. CAST also unveiled a new arts and cultural center in their new home at 447 Minna in San Francisco. The renovated building offers affordable workspace and performance and exhibition venues for arts and neighborhood groups. Tenants include PUSH Dance, Women’s Audio Mission and the San Francisco Neo-Futurists.
In East Oakland, CAST and the Black Cultural Zone Collaborative Partnership opened the transformed Liberation Park. Programming centers Black arts and culture and keeps space for Black and neighborhood businesses and residents. Future phases include the creation of Liberation Park Market Hall and Residences, a cooperative model for an affordable housing and commercial complex.
Foundation grants have also advanced the research and design of service models serving individual artists and artist-led organizations. In February, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fully launched its Artist Power Center, which was piloted as a one-stop support system during the pandemic. The robust digital platform connects artists and partner organizations while providing tailored recommendations for funding and artistic opportunities to strengthen careers.
“Experimental, interdisciplinary arts deserve a permanent home in San Francisco. CounterPulse is an example of how communities can benefit if the arts are equitably resourced in community development initiatives.”
—Julie Phelps, CounterPulse, Artistic & Executive Director
Video credit: La Mezcla and Vanessa Sanchez
“Ghostly Labor,” featured above, explored the systemic exploitation of labor in the US-Mexico borderlands along with collective joy and resistance through Tap Dance, Mexican Zapateado, Son Jarocho, Afro Caribbean movement and live music.
Partnering To Advance Equity And Shift Power
Recognizing that no one organization can tackle issues of equity and systemic change alone, we are collaborating with fellow funders and community partners. In September, in response to ongoing pandemic impacts, we partnered with six foundations to launch the third East Bay Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts. The Center for Cultural Innovation administered the fund, distributing nearly $500K to support the region’s diverse and vitally important cultural communities. Over the past three years, this fund has distributed over $1.6 million to more than 1,000 Bay Area artists.
We also joined other funders who work at the intersection of local communities, equity and arts and culture to create Bay Area Cultural Funders for Equity. A pooled fund will be used to invest in nonprofit organizations that amplify the voices, power, arts and cultures of people of color and other vulnerable communities. Nationally, we participated in a Learning Community of Practice with Grantmakers in the Arts, a national association of arts and culture funders, focused on impact investing.
“If you’re an artist, you…see what’s happening. I just want you to know that that’s important to us, that the world would be in peace. We’re in peace in our heart.”
Photo credit: Tessa Shimizu
Kat Gorospe Cole in Detour Dance’s “Quake,” which reflected on mental health and self-care through the perspective of artists from throughout the Asian-American community.
Creating Vibrant Communities:
The Rainin Foundation invested over $6.4 million in 2022 for Bay Area arts.
Our grantmaking champions artistic risk-taking and highlights important issues facing our society and communities.
Note: Financials are subject to audit verification.
Supporting Artists That Push Boundaries
NEW & EXPERIMENTAL WORKS (NEW) PROGRAM
Provides project support to small and mid-size dance, theater and multidisciplinary arts organizations that enable Bay Area artists to produce timely, visionary projects. Learn about the 2022 NEW Program grantees.
Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience
Crowded Fire Theater Company
Dance Mission Theater
David Herrera Performance Company
Deborah Slater Dance Theater
Eye Zen Presents
Hope Mohr Dance
IKKAI means once: a transplanted pilgrimage
Lower Bottom Playaz
San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Shotgun Players Inc.
Urban Jazz Dance Company
OPEN SPACES PROGRAM
Provides early-stage development and production support grants that enable nonprofit organizations to partner with artists to create temporary, place-based public art projects in San Francisco and Oakland. Learn about the 2022 Open Spaces Program grantees.
Afro Urban Society with lead artists Nkeiruka Oruche, Muisi-Kongo Malonga, Levi Allen, and Reggie Edmonds/Rich Oak
Chapter 510 Ink with lead artists Elena Botkin-Levy and Vernon “Trey” Keeve III
Chinese Culture Foundation Of San Francisco with lead artist Christine Wong Yap
CounterPulse with lead artist Mica Sigourney and collaborators Honey Mahogany, Glamamore, Joanna Haigood and Clement Hil Goldberg
Dance Mission Theater and lead artist collective Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers
Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park with lead artists Walter Hood, Linda Yamane and Michael Moran
NOW Hunters Point with lead artists Liz Ogbu and Kristin Damrow
Tableau Stations with lead artist Isak Immanuel
Temescal Telegraph Avenue Community Association with lead artist Tion “Bukue One” Torrence
Changing Systems Together
An invitation only grant that offers support for projects that will impact conditions for working artists to help them thrive. Learn more about the 2022 Opportunity Fund recipients.
Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) MediaHeadlands Center for the ArtsThe Center for Cultural Innovation
This discretionary fund supports exceptional and emerging opportunities that will have an outsized impact and move us closer toward our vision of all Oakland children reading at or above grade level, no one suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Bay Area artists thriving.
Marcus A Foster Educational Institute