New Relief Fund to Support Artists in the East Bay

Paul Kotapish on May 19, 2020
The new grant initiative aim to support artists and cultural workers like Shotgun Players performers (pictured above) with deep ties in their communities.

A coalition of private donors, foundations, and the City of Oakland has launched a relief fund with $625,000 for artists and culture workers living in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, an Oakland charitable organization that supports the arts, childhood literacy, and health initiatives, made the announcement this week, noting that at least $300,000 of the fund is dedicated specifically to residents of Oakland.

The press release outlined the goals of the project:

The East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts will make grants directly to artists, teaching artists, culture bearers, and nonprofit arts workers from historically underserved communities who are especially financially vulnerable due to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals may apply once for up to $2,000. Funds are unrestricted and can be used in any way that alleviates financial hardship.”

Funding for the initiative comes from a range of organizations including the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Akonadi Foundation, the City of Oakland Cultural Affairs Division, the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Gerbode Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among others, as well as individual donors.

The nonprofit Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) will administer the fund.

Applicants must be current, full-time residents of Alameda County or Contra Costa County; must not be eligible for or currently receiving California-state unemployment benefits (applicants can be receiving CARES benefits through the PUA program); and cannot have a conflict of interest (family or financial relationships) with the boards, staff, or directors of the Center for Cultural Innovation and funders of the relief fund.

The application cycle is open now through Friday, June 5. Grant recipients will be notified by Friday, June 12. The online application is available at the CCI website.

To contribute to the fund, please contact Laura Poppiti, CCI grants program director, via email (laura [at] cciarts [dot] org). Contributions are tax-deductible.