California Arts Council Initiates Statewide Fellowship Program for Emerging Arts Leaders of Color

Photo courtesy of Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Arts Council launched a new grant application today aimed at strengthening the field of arts and culture in California by uplifting an inclusive workforce and supporting the vibrancy of organizations that create and preserve the cultural identities of all California communities.

The Arts Council will award funds to a single administering organization to develop and administer a statewide pilot fellowship program for emerging arts administrators of color.

Made possible through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation in combination with a one-time increase in state arts funding, approximately $1,165,000 in resources will support the development and implementation of the statewide pilot program. The administering organization’s responsibilities will include program development, outreach and marketing, application processes and re-granting management for host organizations and fellows, fostering a cohort-based learning community, and reporting.

The California Arts Council recognizes the historic marginalization of people of color within the field of arts administration and acknowledges that the barriers to the arts and culture field among people of color are compounded by the intersection with socio-economic status, geographic isolation, gender identity, and disability. The culture of unpaid internships within the arts, inaccessible educational requirements by employers, and geographic or social isolation from cultural institutions with paid staff opportunities all serve as potential structural barriers to a career in the arts.

The fellowship program will be designed both to support the professional trajectory of individuals who otherwise may not have the opportunity to develop their careers as arts administrators and to increase the capacity of arts organizations for authentic community engagement with those they serve.

“California has a booming creative sector, which is to be celebrated. However, we must also critically examine it through an equity lens,” said Nashormeh Lindo, Chair of the California Arts Council. “Historic barriers in the arts and culture field have limited the recognition and inclusion of people of color, as artists and as decision makers. This program demonstrates our commitment to expanding opportunities in the field for emerging arts leaders of color, so that we can ensure their voices are at the table of an inclusive cultural workforce for the future.”

“We are grateful to the James Irvine Foundation for their partnership in helping to realize this vision of the Council,” said Anne Bown-Crawford, Executive Director of the California Arts Council. “With this partnership grant comes the first step in an exciting process that addresses a substantial need to build more equity, increased diversity, and universal access for California’s creative workforce.”

Applicants will be required to show their organization’s experience and capacity for administering this statewide program, including experience working in the nonprofit or arts and culture fields in California, ability to conduct outreach and engage authentically with diverse communities across the state, a commitment to and representation of cultural and racial equity, and a deep understanding of community engagement that is of, by and for communities.

Applications will be assessed by a peer review panel, from which finalists will be selected to submit a final application that includes a full project plan. A second peer review panel will review the final round of applications and recommend a single administering organization grant to the California Arts Council for final approval.

The deadline for the California Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship Program Administering Organization grant is May 21 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. More information, including program guidelines, dates, and staff contacts can be found at

# # #

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit

Kimberly Brown
***NEW GRANT APPLICANT RESOURCES*** Virtual office hours and grant program overview videos are now available for technical assistance! Visit our Grant Resources page for details.

Subscribe to the California ArtBeat weekly newsletter

Skip to content