Hewlett awards “Adaptation Grants” to organizations in the Bay Area



Dancer Ny’Aja Roberson performs with the Destiny Arts Center, one of the Hewlett Foundation’s fellows. | Photo credit: Beatriz Escobar

For the past decade, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation disbursed around $ 4 billion, so today’s news from 34 scholarships in the Bay Area is noteworthy for anything other than the impressive grand total of $ 17 million … welcome anyway.

These are one-time grants, specifically not for immediate operational support, but rather to allow organizations to rethink fundamental questions about their models and the way they work. The aim, according to the foundation, is to provide an opportunity for structural change with a view to the long-term needs of the communities they serve.

These awards are known as Adaptation Grants and are given to organizations across the Bay Area with different sizes, missions, and artistic fields. Most of these grants range from $ 300,000 to $ 975,000 and represent several years of traditional funding.

A volunteer hands out food during an event at the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. | Photo credit: Kooltura Marketing

Among the recipients:

  • Aimusic School, with programs that focus on traditional Chinese music but also include classes in classical western music. Aimusic looks after nearly 200 mostly Chinese-American students in a typical year and presents more than 30 concerts and an annual festival.

  • Alliance for California Traditional Arts, committed to supporting and preserving folk and traditional arts across the state.

  • Arts Council Napa Valley, local arts agency serving Napa County’s 136,000 residents.

  • Arts Council Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit regional arts services organization that promotes creative expression and thriving communities across the county.

  • Asian Improv aRts, a multidisciplinary producer and host of artistic works representing the Asian-American experience.

  • AXIS Dance Company, a dance ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers and a pioneer in the field of integrated dance.

  • Bravo! for Women in the Arts produces, showcases and cultivates the artistic expression of women, people of color, youth, LGBT and other underrepresented voices in its historic facility in the Mission District of San Francisco.

  • The California Alliance for Arts Education (now Create CA) promotes, supports, and advocates visual and performing arts education for preschoolers through post-secondary students in California schools.

  • The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association represents the 58 district leaders and district offices of education who provide leadership and service to California’s 1,000 school districts and 6.5 million students.

  • The Center for Cultural Innovation is a California-based arts services organization that promotes knowledge sharing and skill building.

  • The Cinnabar Arts Corporation hosts a range of theatrical, musical, and operatic performances in their 120-seater theater in Petaluma.

  • CounterPulse supports emerging multidisciplinary artists engaged in creating innovative and contemporary performances.

  • Dance Palace is a multidisciplinary arts and community center serving residents of the remote West Marin region.

  • Dancers’ Group is a 1,700-strong organization that promotes the visibility and viability of dance through programs that encourage, advocate, and support Bay Area dance artists, the dance community, and audiences.

  • The Destiny Arts Center wants to inspire and initiate social change through art of movement.

  • The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts is a multidisciplinary arts education organization providing in-school and extra-curricular education programs to 4,500 pre- and middle school students.

  • The East Oakland Youth Development Center is dedicated to developing the social and leadership skills of young people between the ages of 5 and 24.

  • El Teatro Campesino develops and presents new works of Latino theater.

  • EPACENTER is a youth development center in East Palo Alto that enhances the creative potential of young people.

  • Fresh Meat Productions is a transgender and queer arts organization whose productions explore and validate the experiences, expressions and visibility of transgender and gender neutral communities.

  • Golden Thread Productions is the oldest theater company in the United States dedicated to producing plays from or about the Middle East.

  • The Intertribal Friendship House is a center for Indians from the Bay Area with various tribal affiliations and offers culturally competent social services as well as arts and culture programs.

  • The La Peña cultural center promotes peace, social justice and cultural understanding through art, education and social action.

  • Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy is dedicated to teaching, preserving, performing, and producing Mexican-American art.

  • The Luna Dance Institute provides comprehensive professional dance education for teachers and teaching artists, direct dance classes for children and parents, and is committed to promoting dance education in California.

  • Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana is an inclusive contemporary art space based on the Chicano and Latino experience.

  • The Performing Arts Workshop is dedicated to the arts education of young people and offers sequential arts programs for Bay Area students ages 3-18.

  • RYSE Center is a Richmond-based organization that engages youth by providing them with the tools to build a better city and county.

  • San José Taiko is one of the oldest and most artistically significant taiko ensembles in the United States, reaching more than 50,000 people each year through a series of performances.

  • Sangam Arts is an arts organizer that works with artists from a wide range of cultural and artistic expressions to empower rapidly diversifying communities.

  • The School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose is an arts and cultural center that is rooted in the predominantly Mexican-American district of Mayfair.

  • The Sonoma County Economic Development Board and Foundation is dedicated to nurturing and supporting the Sonoma County’s creative community.

  • The Imaginists is an experimental theater company in Sonoma County that produces work that explores the intersection of art and community.

San José Taiko at the San Jose Obon Festival | Image credit: Higashi Design

“The pandemic is just the latest crisis for rock arts organizations in the Bay Area, which is already one of the toughest places to be to be an artist. To thrive, not just survive, art groups need space to experiment and adapt to changing economic, technological and cultural conditions, ”said Emiko Ono, director of the Hewlett performing arts program. “These grants are the starting shot for this innovation and have the potential to break new ground for the arts sector so that the Bay Area can benefit from a lively and equitable cultural landscape.”

Bay Area artists and arts organizations are facing major challenges today, says Ono, “from long-standing issues such as skyrocketing real estate costs and persistent inequalities in access to art and creation, to more immediate crises sparked or triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic were exacerbated, such as the disastrous effects of the pandemic on live performances. ”

Emiko Ono directs Hewlett’s performing arts program

A study conducted by Northern California Grantmakers found that 48 percent of nonprofits surveyed in the Bay Area had scaled back or stopped their programs or services due to the impact of COVID on the sector. The Adaptation Scholarships provide Bay Area arts organizations the resources to not only address a unique challenge of problems, but also a historic opportunity to rethink fundamental assumptions about how best to address them.

“From the Destiny Arts Center, which stimulates social change,” said Ono, “to the movement arts to the Intertribal Friendship House, a center for cultural and social services for Indians from the Bay Area, the youth arts education center Performing Arts Workshop and Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), an inclusive contemporary art space based on the Chicanx and Latinx experience, these fellows epitomize the dedicated, responsive, and innovative work that makes the cultural sector vital to the economic and social health of our communities. ”

What might be surprising, the announcement says, is what exactly these organizations are focusing on: not technology or new digital tools, but a renewed focus on the people, both in the community and on their own employees, who do everything from Mental health care services for young people range from people to unemployment benefits for working artists to pension funds for employees.

The cultural sector was the original gig economy, and the people who work in it know its pitfalls all too well. What the Adaptation Grants program makes clear is that cultural organizations are now prioritizing its rejection.

What this means in practice will vary from institution to institution, but consistent themes include the embedding of services such as community health and wellbeing, deeper into the work of art institutions, and an increase in structured support for artists.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.