Grants totaling more than $3.8 million were awarded to artists, culture-bearers, organizations and agencies throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

On July 5, 2023, Creative Corps Inland SoCal, a state-funded initiative of the California Arts Council (CAC) in collaboration with the Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF), Arts Connection – The Arts Council of San Bernardino County, Riverside Arts Council, and the California Desert Arts Council, unveiled the 53 award recipients.

These grants, specifically designated for artists, culture-bearers, community-based organizations and public agencies, aim to support creative initiatives that advance CAC’s goals of awareness around public health, the environment, social justice, and civic participation. Programming and projects resulting from the grant funds will serve communities that score the lowest on the California Healthy Places Index (HPI). The validated data provided by HPI is used by community leaders and stakeholders to identify inequity and prioritize equitable investment.

In addition to targeting areas with the most need, the Creative Corps Inland SoCal partners made efforts to engage the entire two-county region in the application process. A process of community listening sessions, office hours providing technical support and presentations that helped applicants navigate various aspects of the grant application led to an impressive amount of input and participation from the community, according to IECF. There were over 212 applications for a total request of over $16 million, which far exceeded the money available to allocate as grants.

“We set out to create a participatory and inclusive process and it has been incredible to witness the resulting community engagement and the collaboration between artists and organizations,” Executive Director of Riverside Arts Council Rachel A. Dzikonski said.

Grants were awarded to 26 individual artists:  Darren Villegas, Theodore Meyer, Amanda Dumaguindin, Audrey Maier, Emilia Ortega-Jara, Tamara Cedre, Cynthia Huerta, Dean Mayo, Makeda Kumasi, Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja, Ben Allanoff, Christy Roberts Berkowitz, Cj Jilek, Sarah Wilson, Jonny Miller Jr., Adriana Lopez-Ospina, Maria Gonzalez, Pat Murkland, Larry Burns, Rosy Cortez, Timothy Dupree, Jose Covarrubias, Bernard Hoyes, Emmanuel Doublin, Maisy Kasgnoc, and Benjamin Jeong.

Another 26 organizations and agencies also received grants: About Families Inc., Academy of Musical Performance, Akoma Unity Center, Artists Council, Bezerk Productions, City of Moreno Valley, City of San Bernardino Parks, Recreation and Community Services, Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California, Culturas Music & Arts, Green Room Theatre Co. Coachella Valley, Groundwork Arts, Inland Congregations United for Change, Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, Inland Empire Labor Institute, Inland Futures Foundation KVCR, Joshua Tree National Park Association, Lifting Our Stories, Mil-Tree, Omnitrans, Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency, Power Speaks Louder, Public Art Advisory Committee (City of Twentynine Palms), The City of Ontario, Department of Museum Arts & Culture, The Garcia Center for the Arts, The Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties, The Pass Chorale and Youth Mentoring Action Network.

While the state-funded initiative was a one-time allocation, the Creative Corps InlandSoCal partners are hopeful that the success of the program may spur future funding. Many of the grantees are first-time recipients of grant funding and consider it a life-changing opportunity to improve their communities through their artistic programming and projects.

“The impact of this funding to our two-county region will be enormous, synergistic and hopefully long-lasting,” Senior Vice President, Community Impact & Grants at the Inland Empire Community Foundation, Celia Cudiamat said. “Seizing this moment to leverage and attract sustainable investments is paramount to supporting more artists working with communities for a vibrant and resilient region.”

More information:

This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise July 2023.

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