Kenneth Rainin Foundation announces the 2022 recipients of the Rainin Fellowship

May 2, 2022

Kenneth Rainin Foundation has announced the 2022 recipients of the Rainin Fellowship – an annual $100,000 grant designed to have lasting impact throughout the Bay’s cultural community – to four artists in the Bay Area whose careers and practices both define and preserve the uniqueness of the Bay Area arts ecosystem. The fellows anchor the Bay Area’s art scene, a community that has been the center of social and cultural movements for decades.

The 2022 Rainin Fellows are NAKA Dance Theater, Ryan Nicole Austin, Brett Cook, and Maria Victoria Ponce.

NAKA Dance Theater is a socially engaged dance theater collective, founded by Debby Kajiyama and José Ome Navarrete Mazatl in 2001, which creates interdisciplinary, experimental performance works. Through dance, storytelling, multimedia installations, and site-specific environments, NAKA builds partnerships with communities.

Ryan Nicole Austin is a Grammy-nominated polymath who has led productions as an actress, director, and playwright at theater companies throughout the Bay Area. She is a writer and producer on the developmental teams for several upcoming musicals.

Brett Cook is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who uses storytelling to distill complex ideas and creative practices to transform outer and inner worlds of being. His public projects feature elaborate installations, community workshops, arts-integrated pedagogy, music, performance, food, and more.

Maria Victoria Ponce is a San Francisco Bay Area film writer and director whose work navigates the complexities in the routine lives within poor and working-class neighborhoods: themes of immigration, sexuality, and coming of age tend to recur. Through film, she aims to highlight the breadth and depth of the Latinx experience in the Bay Area.

Launched last March, the Fellowship funds Bay Area artists working across varied disciplines—Dance, Film, Public Space, and Theater—who push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor local communities, and advance the field.

Each fellow receives an unrestricted $100,000, plus supplemental professional support, designed to amplify the impact of the grant, both for them and the community.

The Rainin Fellowship itself is a new model that could offer a blueprint for other foundations across the country. By pairing Rainin’s deep understanding of the local community with a national organization’s perspective and expertise working with artists, this Fellowship exemplifies Rainin’s commitment to supporting the Bay’s local creative ecosystem.

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