Thirty-Four Innovative Groups Receive Special Funds to Address Long-Term Challenges in the Arts Sector
(Menlo Park, Calif. – September 20, 2021) — The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced today that more than 30 San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits have been awarded a total of $17 million as part of a special Adaptation Grants program. The grants are directed not at immediate operational costs, but to help organizations plan for, test, and enact structural and financial evolutions that will allow them to best fulfill their missions in the years to come.
Bay Area artists and arts organizations today face significant challenges, from longstanding issues like skyrocketing real estate costs and persistent inequalities in who has access to art and artmaking, to more immediate crises brought on or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the disastrous impact the pandemic has had on live performances. A study conducted by Northern California Grantmakers found that 48% of Bay Area nonprofits surveyed have reduced their programs or services, or stopped them, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. The adaptation grants provide Bay Area arts organizations the resources to address what is not only a uniquely challenging set of problems, but also a historic opportunity to rethink fundamental assumptions about how best to confront them.
“The pandemic is just the latest crisis to rock arts organizations in the Bay area, already one of the most challenging places to be an artist. To thrive, and not just survive, arts groups need room to experiment and adapt to changing economic, technological, and cultural conditions,” said Emiko Ono, director of Hewlett’s Performing Arts program. “These grants provide runway for that innovation, and have the potential to carve a new path forward for the arts sector so that the Bay Area can benefit from a vibrant and equitable cultural landscape.”
The 34 grant recipients are drawn from across the Bay Area, and represent an array of sizes, missions, and artistic fields. Ranging from $300,000 to $975,000, most of the one-time adaptation grants are equivalent to several years of traditional funding. By providing these dynamic cultural institutions with resources to plan, not just for the next year but the next decade and beyond, the Adaptation Grants program provides a window into how innovative organizations might meet evolving needs.
“From Destiny Arts Center, which works to inspire social change through the movement arts, to Intertribal Friendship House, a cultural and social services hub for Bay Area Native Americans, youth arts education center Performing Arts Workshop, and Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicanx and Latinx experience, these grantees embody the engaged, responsive, and innovative work that makes the culture sector vital to the economic and social health of our communities,” Ono added.
All 34 organizations have concluded an initial planning period with ideas for how they will navigate the pressing economic and social challenges of the coming years. The plans developed as a result of the adaptation grants reflect the thinking of some of the country’s leading arts organizations. Their insights into the needs of their communities, and what is needed to meet the challenges ahead, extend far beyond the arts alone, encompassing everything from mental health care for community youth to employment benefits for working artists.
What this means in practice will vary between institutions, but consistent themes include the embedding of services, such as community health and well-being, more deeply into the work arts institutions do, and an increase in structured support for arts workers. Destiny Arts Center, for example, will devote a portion of its adaptation work to the development of new resources for youth mental health services, while MACLA will work toward the development of an employee retirement fund, and new opportunities for working artists to receive full-time salaries.
“With the Hewlett Foundation’s adaptation grant, Destiny will be able to deepen the mental health support we provide to our youth and families through our creative youth development programming. Destiny has been inspiring and igniting social change through the arts for 33 years and we know that the process of creating art is healing. Now, more than ever, we need to intentionally use the arts to support the mental health of our youth, especially given how our communities have been impacted by the twin epidemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism,” said Archie Nagraj, executive director of Destiny Arts Center.
The Hewlett Foundation has supported performing arts in the Bay Area for more than 50 years, and in 2019 announced a commitment to grantmaking in the arts as a means of centering equity, justice, and community self-determination. The adaptation grants represent a key component of this commitment.
The full list of grantees includes: Aimusic School, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Arts Council Napa Valley, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Asian Improv aRts, AXIS Dance Company, Brava! for Women in the Arts, Create CA, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, Center for Cultural Innovation, Cinnabar Arts Corporation, CounterPulse, Dance Palace, Dancers’ Group, Destiny Arts Center, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, East Oakland Youth Development Center, El Teatro Campesino, EPACENTER, Fresh Meat Productions, Golden Thread Productions, Intertribal Friendship House, La Peña Cultural Center, Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, Luna Dance Institute, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Performing Arts Workshop, RYSE Center, San Jose Taiko, Sangam Arts, School of Arts and Culture at MHP, DBA Creative Sonoma, and The Imaginists. More information on each grantee is below.
“Cultural workers from communities of color often do not have access to generational wealth, making it particularly challenging to pursue a career path in the arts and culture sector. We believe the investments we’re making with the adaptation grants, in both our programs and the people who make them possible, will positively impact the field by creating a more just and equitable arts sector. Those investments include a new Performing Artist-in-Residence program, creating space for a Latinx artist to incubate their work and serve in a curatorial role with us, and an employee retirement program to invest in our people,” said Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, executive director of MACLA.
For more information on the adaptation grants and the Performing Arts program, please visit hewlett.org
About the Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For more than 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities, make the philanthropy sector more effective, and foster gender equity and responsive governance around the world.
Today, it is one of the largest philanthropic institutions in the United States, awarding over $465 million in grants in 2020 to organizations across the globe to help people build better lives.
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About the Adaptation Grantees
Aimusic.us is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational institute, providing music education, performances, and cultural exchange programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of the school’s programs are focused on traditional Chinese music, but also include Western classical music instruction. Aimusic serves almost 200 predominantly Chinese American students in a typical year, and presents more than 30 concerts and an annual festival for audiences of more than 7,000 people from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
This grant will support Aimusic School in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy.
Alliance for California Traditional Arts
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is dedicated to supporting and sustaining folk and traditional arts throughout the state. Through its Arts in Corrections program, statewide artist convenings, and two small grants programs, the alliance has supported and made visible the work of culture bearers from diverse backgrounds throughout California.
This grant will support its adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by strengthening an organization dedicated to cultural communities that have little access to other forms of support.
Arts Council Napa Valley
Arts Council Napa Valley is the local arts agency for Napa county’s 136,000 people. The organization works with the county’s government agencies, arts organizations, and artists to place art in public spaces and guide the county’s arts education master plan. Each year it also awards small grants to about 40 artists, students, schools, and arts organizations.
This grant will support Arts Council Napa Valley’s adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by supporting one of the few arts agencies serving an entire county in a rural region of the Bay Area.
Arts Council Santa Cruz County
Arts Council Santa Cruz County is a private, nonprofit regional arts service organization that promotes creative expression and thriving communities throughout the county. It supports youth, artists, and arts organizations through grants, professional development offerings, arts education services, activation of the Tannery Arts Center, and production of community arts events. Each year, its programs directly serve and support more than 18,000 students, 300 artists, and 100 local arts organizations.
This grant will support Arts Council Santa Cruz County’s adaptation planning and implementation, ensuring it continues to be a strong partner in advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Asian Improv aRts
Asian Improv aRts is a multi-disciplinary producer and presenter of artistic works that represent the Asian American experience. Based in San Francisco, it facilitates artistic collaboration, commissions new work, and presents cultural and educational programming. Each year it supports approximately 15 new creative projects, and provides ongoing education, leadership, and mentoring programs to youth in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood, community partners working throughout the Bay Area, and artists nationally and internationally.
This grant will support Asian Improv aRts’ adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Artists strategy.
AXIS Dance Company
AXIS Dance Company is a dance ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers, and a pioneer in the field of integrated dance. The company presents concerts of its own work, as well as commissioned works by guest choreographers and composers, in a home season and in tours. Through its outreach programs, AXIS brings physically integrated dance to schools, community centers, and independent living centers for those seeking to learn more about dance, disability, and collaboration. The company serves more than 13,000 people each year with more than 35 performances, in addition to classes, trainings, and presentations.
This grant will support AXIS in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Brava! for Women in the Arts
Brava! for Women in the Arts produces, presents, and cultivates the artistic expression of women, people of color, youth, LGBT, and other under-represented voices at its historic facility in San Francisco’s Mission District. The organization produces a season of eight projects, reaching more than 30,000 audience members each year, and provides arts education and job training programs for youth. Brava’s rental program makes its facility accessible to key constituents at affordable rates.
This grant, to support Brava’s adaptation planning and implementation, advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by strengthening performance and artmaking opportunities for diverse artist communities.
California Alliance for Arts Education (now Create CA)
The California Alliance for Arts Education promotes, supports, and advocates for visual and performing arts education for preschool through post-secondary students in California schools. It is the only statewide organization that brings together key stakeholders for arts education, serving more than 100,000 artists, K-12 teachers, parents, and members of state and local education departments and PTAs each year.
This grant will support California Alliance for Arts Education’s adaptation planning and implementation, advancing Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy through its Policy and Advocacy substrategy, by supporting organizational adaptations at a critical time for public education.
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) represents the 58 county superintendents and county offices of education staff that provide leadership and service to California’s 1,000 school districts, and 6.5 million students. The association’s statewide Arts Initiative works to strengthen and expand arts education in California public schools by providing professional development and curriculum tools to educators, and by overseeing the rollout of new statewide arts standards.
This grant will support adaptation planning and implementation for CCSESA’s Arts Initiative, and advances the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy through its Policy and Advocacy substrategy.
Center for Cultural Innovation
Center for Cultural Innovation is a California-based arts service organization that promotes knowledge sharing and skill building. With offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the organization provides monetary grants, technical assistance, and research capacity for innovative projects that improve the practices, policies, and systems of support for artists and the arts sector.
This grant will support Center for Cultural Innovation’s adaptation planning and implementation, as well as its overall strategic framework, ensuring it will continue to be a strong partner in advancing the Performing Arts program’s Artists strategy.
Cinnabar Arts Corporation
Cinnabar Arts Corporation presents a range of theatrical, musical, and operatic performances in its 120-seat theater in Petaluma. The organization serves young people ages four to 18 through a youth theater repertory program that includes theater training and opportunities to perform in plays and musicals. The organization’s programs and productions reach approximately 6,700 audience members in a typical year.
This grant will support Cinnabar Arts Corporation in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
CounterPulse supports emerging multi-disciplinary artists who are engaged in the creation of cutting-edge and contemporary performance, often from a queer or LGBTQ perspective. Its programs serve this community of artists through the commissioning and production of new work and providing fiscal sponsorship services and subsidized rehearsal and performance space.
This grant advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by ensuring a cultural home for queer and avant-garde movement artists, many of whom are facing displacement. This grant will support CounterPulse’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Dance Palace is a multi-disciplinary arts and community center that serves residents of the remote region of West Marin. Its programs reach nearly 4,000 people each year through offerings by well-known and local artists in dance, theater, film, and music. Dance Palace also provides performing arts classes for children and adults, and performances and workshops for local students, in and out of school.
This grant advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by ensuring a home for community-based arts and culture in a rural part of the Bay Area, where few arts resources exist. This grant will support Dance Palace’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Dancers’ Group is a 1,700-member organization that promotes the visibility and viability of dance through programs that assist, advocate for, and support Bay Area dance artists, the dance community, and audiences. The organization’s programs include free and ticketed dance performances, and fiscal sponsorship and supportive services to more than 120 artist-led projects. It also offers technical assistance to dance projects, regranting to dance artists and organizations, and publishes a monthly dance magazine. Each year, its events typically reach more than 35,000 audience members.
This grant will support Dancers’ Group in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Artists strategy.
Destiny Arts Center
Destiny Arts Center seeks to inspire and ignite social change through movement arts. The center’s professional teaching artists also work with more than 3,000 primarily low-income youth and youth of color, aged three to 18, both at the organization’s home campus, and at 24 schools and community centers throughout the East Bay. Each year, Destiny Arts Center’s two youth performing companies collaborate to produce an original piece of musical theater for more than 20,000 audience members.
This grant to Destiny Arts Center aligns with the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy, and will advance the organization’s adaptation planning and implementation.
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts is a multi-disciplinary arts education organization. It provides in-school and after-school education programs for 4,500 pre-K through middle school students, as well as rigorous conservatory-level training and wrap-around services for 140 middle and high school students at its beautifully restored facility in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. The center reaches another 30,000 people through community events and public performances, all of which reflect a broad array of global art forms.
This grant will support East Bay Center for the Performing Arts’ adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy.
East Oakland Youth Development Center
The East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) is dedicated to developing the social and leadership capacities of young people between five and 24 years of age so they can be more successful in educational settings, jobs, and community service. Each week, EOYDC offers a wide variety of academic, athletic, and arts and culture programming, after school and during the summer, to 300 students attending East Oakland public schools. The organization often has long relationships, averaging seven years, with the youth it serves.
This grant will support EOYDC’s organizational adaptation planning and implementation, and advance the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy.
El Teatro Campesino
El Teatro Campesino develops and presents new works of Latino theater. El Teatro Campesino was born out of farmworker strikes in the 1960s and remains committed to generating social change through the arts. The organization serves predominately, but not exclusively, Latino audiences and students, and offers professional mainstage productions, low-cost or free community arts presentations, and arts education. In a typical year, it serves 6,000 people with more than 30 performances in schools and theaters, as well as public or outdoor venues.
This grant will support El Teatro Campesino in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
EPACENTER is a youth development center in East Palo Alto that amplifies the creative potential in every young person. The organization hosts community art festivals and events, and each year provides free instruction in dance, theater, music, creative writing, and media arts to 500 local youth, ages eight to 18.
This grant advances the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy by supporting a creative youth development organization in East Palo Alto, a city with few such resources, and will support EPACENTER’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Fresh Meat Productions
Fresh Meat Productions is a transgender and queer arts organization whose productions explore and affirm the experiences, expressions, and visibility of transgender and gender-nonconforming communities. Its programs include an annual arts festival; the creation and presentation of new works by its resident dance company; the commission of new works by transgender artists of color; community arts and education; and national advocacy to advance trans equity in dance. The organization reaches more than 17,000 people each year.
This grant will support Fresh Meat Productions’ adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Golden Thread Productions
Golden Thread Productions is the oldest theater company in the United States devoted to producing plays from or about the Middle East. It engages local, national, and international networks of theater artists to serve Bay Area communities by supporting the development and production of innovative works, and promotion of the rich texts and diverse performance styles of the Middle East. Its suite of programs serves more than 7,000 people each year, offering authentic voices and alternative perspectives of the region.
This grant will support Golden Thread Productions’ adaptation planning and implementation, ensuring the organization continues to advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Intertribal Friendship House
Intertribal Friendship House is a hub for Bay Area Native Americans of diverse tribal affiliations, providing culturally competent social services, arts and culture programs, and Native American community building and fellowship opportunities. The organization’s arts and culture programs cover a broad array of practices, including drumming classes, regalia making, traditional song and dance instruction, performances, ceremonies, and powwows. In a typical year, the organization offers seven community gatherings, five performances, and 340 classes and workshops that serve 2,600 people.
This grant will support Intertribal Friendship House in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
La Peña Cultural Center
La Peña Cultural Center is a community center that promotes peace, social justice, and cultural understanding through arts, education, and social action. Each year, La Peña presents more than 100 events created by emerging and established performers, and produces new works by local, national, and international artists, reaching approximately 10,000 people. The center also houses a variety of in-school and out-of-school arts education programs, classes, and workshops rooted in Latin American cultural traditions and international social movements.
This grant advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by ensuring a cultural home for Latin American arts and culture practitioners, and a venue for cross-cultural learning. This grant will support La Peña Cultural Center’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy
Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy is committed to the instruction, preservation, performance, and production of Mexican American arts. The organization reaches more than 20,000 people each year, providing music and dance classes in traditional and popular Mexican genres to 240 children and young people in the city of San Pablo. Los Cenzontles also researches, performs, and produces online media; records Mexican roots music; and hosts community cultural events.
This grant to Los Cenzontles advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by supporting the cultural activities, traditions, and preservation of the diversity of Mexican American communities in the Bay Area. This grant will support the academy’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Luna Dance Institute
Luna Dance Institute provides comprehensive professional development in dance for teachers and teaching artists, direct dance instruction to children and parents, and advocacy in support of dance education in California. Through its professional learning programs, the institute trains more than 600 educators each year. Its in-school arts education programs serve more than 4,000 children each year at public schools in the Oakland Unified School District at no charge to schools. The organization also serves about 400 children and families at its studio in West Berkeley through free or low-cost programming.
This grant to Luna Dance Institute aligns with the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy and will support the organization’s adaptation planning and implementation.
Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana
Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicanx and Latinx experience. MACLA’s multi-disciplinary programming includes performances of theater, spoken word, music, and dance, as well as lectures, workshops, visual arts exhibitions, and free digital media education. Through its mostly free or low-cost programs, MACLA serves more than 35,000 people each year, including parents, children, and youth who participate in MACLA’s free outdoor family art events.
This grant will support MACLA in making organizational adaptations and advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Performing Arts Workshop
Performing Arts Workshop is dedicated to youth arts education, and provides sequential arts programming for Bay Area students aged three to 18. The organization focuses on serving students in the southwest neighborhoods of San Francisco, who may not otherwise have easy access to quality arts education. Its artist residencies in after-school programs, community centers, and 90 public schools vary in length from 11 to 60 sessions, and serve more than 4,200 students. The organization is an advocate for excellence in arts education, using research to influence policymakers and build grassroots coalitions to support quality arts education.
This grant will support adaptation planning and implementation for Performing Arts Workshop, and aligns with the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy.
RYSE Center is a Richmond-based organization that engages youth by providing them the tools to build a better city and county. Its programs focus on equity and justice; community health; youth organizing; and media, arts, and culture. The latter program’s suite of activities, including workshops, field trips, creative projects, performances, and internships, engage more than 500 youth in approximately 60 projects and 40 events each year, reaching more than 2,000 audience members.
This grant will support RYSE Center’s adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Youth strategy.
San Jose Taiko
San Jose Taiko is one of the oldest and most artistically significant taiko ensembles in the United States. Each year it reaches more than 50,000 people through a range of performances; youth and adult educational opportunities; and professional training programs for local, national, and international audiences. Its school outreach and other youth programs provide hands-on instruction for more than 18,000 young people each year. In addition, San Jose Taiko provides community classes and workshops focused on physical and mental health, and cultural pluralism.
This grant will support San Jose Taiko’s adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
Mosaic America (formerly Sangam Arts)
Mosaic America is an arts presenter that collaborates with artists from a wide range of cultural and artistic expressions in order to strengthen rapidly diversifying communities. Focused primarily on San Jose and the Silicon Valley region, it has, in the last two years, commissioned 15 new works by artists from 30 distinct cultural traditions. Its presentations reach approximately 6,000 audience members each year at community venues ranging from traditional arts stages and museums to libraries and health centers.
This grant will support Mosaic America’s adaptation planning and implementation, and help to advance the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
School of Arts and Culture at MHP
The School of Arts and Culture at MHP is the long-term operator of the Mexican Heritage Plaza, a six-acre facility owned by the city of San Jose. The organization is a vibrant arts and culture center, rooted in the largely Mexican American Mayfair neighborhood, that provides visual and performing arts classes, performances, and community events for more than 60,000 people each year. It also provides leadership development, fiscal sponsorship, and professional training to approximately 100 East San Jose artists and cultural leaders each year.
This grant will support the school’s adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.
DBA Creative Sonoma
A program of Sonoma County Economic Development Board and Foundation, Creative Sonoma is dedicated to advancing and supporting the creative community of Sonoma County. Creative Sonoma provides grant support, trainings, and workshops, convenings, and one-on-one consulting for more than 2,000 artists and arts workers per year. Creative Sonoma also supports advocacy for arts education in the county, providing access to arts education for about 16,000 students each year.
This grant, for adaptation planning and implementation for Creative Sonoma, advances the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy by supporting a county-wide arts service organization in a rural part of the Bay Area with few arts resources.
The Imaginists is an experimental theater company in Sonoma County that produces work that investigates the intersection of art and community. It reaches 5,400 people each year through a series of performances and educational programs that are often site-specific, bilingual, and reflect the organization’s commitment to including a wide range of voices in its artistic processes.
This grant will support The Imaginists’ adaptation planning and implementation, advancing the Performing Arts program’s Communities strategy.