California Arts Council Launches New Individual Artist Fellowships Program

Agency returns to individual artist funding for first time in 18 years; grants will support individual artistic practice through unrestricted funding

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Arts Council has announced the opening of a new fellowship program intended to recognize, uplift, and celebrate California artists as part of its 2021 grant opportunities.

The Individual Artist Fellowships will support artists from a broad spectrum of artistic practices, backgrounds, geographies and communities, whose work addresses themes such as race, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In doing so, the CAC will showcase the centrality of artists’ leadership in generating social impact and 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, elevating their capacity for continued contribution to the field and our state. The grant identifies three career tiers at which artists may benefit from this support:

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

The fellowship was developed in alignment with the Council’s priority to offer direct support to California’s individual artists and cultural practitioners. This year’s grant opportunities were also informed by public input and data in alignment with the Arts Council’s Strategic Framework Decision Support Tool.

The program marks a historic return of direct support for artists and their creative practices. It is the agency’s first opportunity for funding for 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. 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,” said Larry Baza, Chair of the California Arts Council.

Baza continued, “We’re honored to support the exploration of creativity by California artists at each step of their careers’ evolution, especially during this challenging time of the pandemic, which has greatly impacted the livelihoods of individual artists across California. We also want to recognize and express gratitude to one individual in particular, our immediate past Council Chair, Nashormeh Lindo, who championed this program as a leader of our Council.”

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

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

Follow the California Arts Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and join the conversation around arts grant season using #ArtsCA.

Media Inquiries:
Kimberly Brown
Public Affairs Specialist

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The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Larry Baza, Vice Chair Lilia Gonzales Chavez, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Stanlee Gatti, Alex Israel, Consuelo Montoya, and Jonathan Moscone. Learn more at

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

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