VC’s 2018 +Lab Artist-in-Residence Tina Takemoto’s project detailing the history behind First Street North. (Photo by Abe Ferrer)

The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts announced April 22 the 2020 recipients of its Artist Project Grants, marking the fifth year of an initiative that furthers Mike Kelley’s philanthropic work and legacy by supporting projects that reflect and honor his multifaceted artistic practice.

The foundation awards the grants to Los Angeles artists and nonprofit institutions and organizations that undertake compelling, inventive, and risk-taking work in any medium, particularly projects that have proven difficult to develop or fund.

This year’s grantees are the Armory Center for the Arts; California Institute of the Arts/REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater); Fulcrum Arts/homeLA; Human Resources LA; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Los Angeles Filmforum; Pieter; Vincent Price Art Museum; and Visual Communications Media.

Tina Takemoto

“Every year it is a tremendous honor to support the vital work of artists and arts organizations in Los Angeles. In the midst of a global crisis that is putting an unprecedented strain on our cultural community, grantmaking in the arts has a heightened sense of urgency,” said Mary Clare Stevens, executive director of the foundation. “While our grants in the past have primarily supported project-related expenses, this year, we will be more flexible. We will work closely with each grantee and find the best ways to buoy their work during this time. As a start, we will extend the timeline of the public presentation of the projects and make any other modifications deemed appropriate for public health considerations and the project’s intentions.”

The 2020 grantees were selected through a competitive application process by an independent panel that included Rita Gonzalez; Terri and Michael Smooke, curator and department head, contemporary art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tim Griffin, executive director and chief curator of The Kitchen; Los Angeles-based artist Asher Hartman; Eungie Joo, curator of contemporary art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms.

“We are grateful to be able to offer assistance to creative endeavors that will need it in the months to come,” said Stevens. “From Nao Bustamante’s ambitious multimedia project at REDCAT, to Tina Takemoto’s collaboration with Visual Communications Media to engage audiences with Little Tokyo, to five newly commissioned international films at LA Filmforum, these grantees reflect the spectrum of incredible work being created and presented here in Los Angeles.

“It is crucial that they continue to be supported in their efforts — the arts are essential to our well-being now more than ever — and we are committed to doing that. The foundation’s 2021 grant cycle will be open for application in June. To help us in the development of next year’s guidelines, we are in discussion with the arts community to assess their needs and how the foundation can best address them in this disruptive environment.”

In response to the pandemic, the foundation for the Arts is also contributing to the newly created Artist Relief, which was formed to provide immediate relief for artists affected by COVID-19, stimulate artist wellness support systems, and learn about artists’ needs for future resource and advocacy development. The fund is spearheaded by a coalition of national arts grantmakers, consisting of the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists.

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