For the first time in 18 years, the California Arts Council is offering individual artist grants in a new fellowship program designed to recognize, uplift and celebrate California artists.

The Individual Artist Fellowships will support artists from a broad range of artistic backgrounds, geographies and communities, whose work addresses themes such as race, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. The CAC wants to showcase the significance of artists’ leadership in generating social impact and in the evolution of our traditional and contemporary cultures.

The Individual Artist Fellowships will support artists 18 years of age and older, at key moments in their careers. The grant identifies three career tiers at which artists may benefit from this support:

  • CAC Emerging Artist Fellows$5,000 per award, with approximately 70 artists to be supported. Artists should have between four and 10 years of artistic practice.
  • CAC Established Artist Fellows $10,000 per award, with approximately 50 artists to be supported. Artists should have between four and 10 years of artistic practice.
  • CAC Legacy Artist Fellows — $50,000 per award, with approximately 10 artists to be supported. Well-established artists should have 10 or more years of artistic practice.

The fellowship was developed in alignment with the council’s priority of offering direct support to California’s individual artists and cultural practitioners. The program marks a historic return of direct support for artists and their creative practices.

For the 2021 Individual Artist Fellowships, the application and further details can be found at Applications are due April 1.

It is the agency’s first opportunity for funding of individual artists during the course of its regular grant season cycle since 2002. Previous opportunities were discontinued when the agency’s state budget was reduced by more than 90 percent in 2003.

“This is a particularly proud moment for our council, with a dream realized through this fellowship program,” said Larry Baza, chair of the California Arts Council, in a statement.

“Direct and unrestricted funding straight to the source — the artists of our state — is a goal that has been near and dear to the hearts of those on the council and the staff alike for some time.”

Small Nonprofits, Including Cultural Institutions, Also Have Opportunities for Funding

The CAC, along with the state Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), also recently announced four new funding rounds for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing into law a package of immediate actions that facilitate relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering economic hardships due to COVID-19.

More information for grant applicants, plus informational workshops, webinars and more are here:

In its first two funding rounds, the program selected more than 40,000 small businesses and nonprofits to receive approximately $500 million in grant funding.

The recently-signed package provides $2.075 billion for grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. This new package also includes a $50 million allocation for nonprofit cultural institutions.

Four competitive funding rounds will be conducted by Cal OSBA’s selected intermediary, Lendistry.

  • Eligible applicants: Only nonprofit cultural institutions with any revenue size that meet eligibility criteria found at;
  • Eligible grant award: $5,000-$25,000;
  • Details: Eligible nonprofit cultural institutions must complete a new application even if they already applied in Rounds 1 and 2; grants will only be available to nonprofit cultural institutions that did not receive funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3; grants will be prioritized based on the documented percentage revenue declines based on a reporting period comparing Q2 and Q3 of 2020, versus Q2 and Q3 of 2019.

The application window for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program is from March 16 to March 23.

Richard Chang is senior editor for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at

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