Sankofa Fund for Cultural Preservation
Project grants for San Francisco-based individuals and organizations
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is offering grants between $1,500 and $15,000 for San Francisco-based individuals and organizations. These one-year grants will support projects that foster artistic expression deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized communities.

Deadline to apply: September 1, 2021

Join an online info session with ACTA staff!
August 16 at 6 pm PST - Register here
August 20 at 12 pm PST - Register here
August 23 at 12 pm PST - Register here
The concept of “Sankofa” is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa. Sankofa is expressed in the Akan language as “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki.” Literally translated, this means “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot."

Acknowledging that our heritage, legacies, ancestors, mentors, and communities are bedrocks of who we are and contribute to our creativity, the grants are intended to support work that is centered around what each community values as important. These practices involve many aesthetic forms, value systems, and languages. The Sankofa Fund is designed for the continuity and transmission of the collective values of your community.

The Sankofa Fund will focus on projects that support cultural practices rooted in a specific community with an identifiable lineage or collective history. Projects should serve those same communities. Projects can focus on:
  • Support for the ongoing practice of cultural traditions
  • Teaching/Workshops/Apprenticeships
  • Performances
  • Exhibitions
  • Festivals
  • Documentation/Media/Oral Histories/Archiving
  • Conferences + Gatherings

All projects will be required to have a public presentation element which can be a live performance, online sharing, publication, etc.

This program is supported by the Sankofa Initiative of the San Francisco Arts Commission's Arts Impact Endowment.

Image: "Recalling the Journey," a quilt by 2011 ACTA apprentice Helen Anderson. Helen's quilt features an image of the Sankofa bird, an Akan symbol meaning "go back and fetch it." Photo: R. Rodriguez/ACTA.
Welcoming Melody Takata to ACTA!
We are so excited to have Melody Takata join the ACTA staff as Program Manager! Melody is the founder of GenRyu Arts, a taiko and odori school in San Francisco, as well as the Festival Director of Japan Week, a summer cultural festival in San Francisco Japantown.

She is a multi-faceted artist trained in Japanese classical dance, taiko, and shamisen, a Japanese string instrument. In addition to training with master artists in these forms, Melody has also pursued interdisciplinary work collaborating with jazz artists, poets, contemporary dance, and film for the last 20 years. She has performed for over 35 years in the U.S. and Japan. Melody has been part of the ACTA family for many years, since taking part in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2003 under the mentorship of shamisen master artist Hideko Nakajima (1935 – 2019). Melody joins ACTA’s San Francisco office to manage our new Sankofa Fund grant program.
“I believe that ACTA provides a place to convene and deepen the dialogue as cultural artists. ACTA answers the call of urgency to support these artists who do so much to maintain community well-being and grounding, especially during this time in history.”

¡Vacúnate, Prudencio!
Encouraging COVID-19 prevention in the San Joaquin Valley

We're excited to share this new video of "¡Vacúnate, Prudencio!," a radio drama written and directed by US Poet Laureate Emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera for ACTA! Performed by Teatro Familia Feliz, the drama tells the story of a family persuading their loved ones to protect themselves from COVID-19 through masks, social distancing, and vaccination.

This video is part of ACTAvando Contra COVID, a production of new works in Spanish and Mixtec in music, poetry and theater by beloved Latinx artists and ensembles in the San Joaquin Valley. These new pieces all animate public health messaging for the prevention of COVID-19 in the valley, a region which has experienced both a high level of infection and low vaccination rates during the pandemic. The pieces are being aired across California through Radio Bilingüe, the national Latinx public radio network.

"The story we present encourages practices to stay safe — wearing Covid protection masks, social distancing, being careful to not infect someone else and being proactive. All this is woven with various ways of speaking in Spanish and English, like in our communities. And the style is similar to Teatro Campesino, and farm workers’ theatre—a beautiful form because it is so familiar, funny, exaggerated, and real, all at the same time." —Juan Felipe Herrera
¡Vacúnate, Prudencio!
Promoviendo la prevención del COVID-19 en el Valle de San Joaquín

¡Estamos emocionadxs de compartir este nuevo video de "¡Vacúnate, Prudencio!", un drama de radio escrito y dirigido por el poeta laureado estadounidense Juan Felipe Herrera para ACTA! Realizado por el Teatro Familia Feliz, el drama cuenta la historia de una familia que persuade a sus seres queridxs para que se protejan del COVID-19 a través de máscaras, distanciamiento social y vacunación.
Este video es parte de ACTAvando Contra COVID, una producción de nuevas obras en español y mixteco en música, poesía y teatro por amadxs artistas y conjuntos latinxs en el Valle de San Joaquín. Todas estas nuevas piezas animan los mensajes de salud pública para la prevención de COVID-19 en el valle, una región que ha experimentado tanto un alto nivel de infección como bajas tasas de vacunación durante la pandemia. Las obras se están transmitiendo en todo California a través de Radio Bilingüe, la red nacional de radio pública latina.
"La historia que presentamos fomenta las prácticas necesarias para mantenernos seguros del COVID-19—usar máscaras, mantener la distancia social, ser cuidadosos para no infectar a nadie más y ser proactivos. Todo esto está entretejido en varias formas de hablar el español y el inglés en nuestras comunidades. El estilo es similar al Teatro Campesino y el teatro de los trabajadores del campo. Una forma bella porque es al mismo tiempo familiar, chistosa, exagerada y real." Juan Felipe Herrera
ACTA Apprentice Culminating Event with Makeda Kumasi
Check out 2021 ACTA Apprentice Makeda Kumasi and mentor artist Fode Sissoko performing as part of The Urban Djali Tour! This live concert will include a recital by Makeda and Fode on the kora, a West African stringed instrument similar to a lute or harp.
September 19, 2021
8:00 - 10:00 PM
Farewell to Jasmin Temblador
We are bidding a fond farewell to our Arts in Corrections (AIC) Program Manager Jasmin Temblador. Jasmin joined ACTA in 2017 as an AIC program coordinator and became manager of the program in 2019. She stewarded the program through a historic amount of change during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop new traditional arts-based written curricula with new media. In addition to managing residencies in 18 California state prisons alongside two program coordinators, Jasmin coordinated ACTA’s first ever Reentry Through the Arts program in Los Angeles specially designed for individuals returning to their communities following incarceration.

We will dearly miss Jasmin’s kindness, warmth, and generous spirit, and we wish her the best in her future work!
Jasmin had some parting words for the traditional artists who have contributed their time and energy to the Arts in Corrections and Reentry programs:

“I have learned a great deal from each of you, and you have greatly influenced my life and the way I think and see myself in this world as a cultural worker. We have worked in some of the most challenging conditions serving our incarcerated brothers and sisters, and through your work I have seen how people can flourish in spaces that are meant to deplete the spirit. I have seen the impact these programs have on the communities we serve and the need to sustain them into the future.”
The Wallace Foundation has a new initiative that will support a cohort of 10-12 arts organizations of color that, in their second decade or more of existence, are grappling with strategic challenges to their founding organizational model or context. Adopting a strengths-based approach, the cohort will address the following guiding question: How can and do arts organizations of color facing strategic challenges leverage their experience and histories of community orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance? This is a multi-year grant for organizations between $500,000 and $5M in size. Learn more about the initiative, eligibility criteria and how to submit a letter of interest here.

DEADLINE: 08/20/2021

Join California Humanities staff for an informational session on California Humanities grant support for projects in the humanities on August 26, 2021. They will offer tips on preparing your proposal, discuss what makes an application competitive, share news, and leave plenty of time for your questions.

California Humanities current grant opportunities include:
  • Humanities for All: provides grants for locally initiated public humanities projects across the state.
  • California Documentary Project: supports films, podcasts, and digital media projects that seek to document California in all its complexity. 
  • Library Innovation Lab: supports the design and delivery of responsive and relevant public humanities programming in California’s public libraries.

DEADLINE: various
The Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center have launched the Community Collections grant program to support individuals or non-profit organizations in producing cultural documentation–photographs, interviews, audio or video recordings about their community from the community’s perspective. Materials gathered through this program will become part of the Library’s permanent collection, while locally-held copies can enhance (or seed) community archives. All activity under the initiative will expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that our historical record reflects a diversity of experiences, thus weaving a more inclusive American story. Grants will be up to $50,000 ($60,000 if applicants intend to host a public program in their community), and will support projects of up to 12-months in length.

DEADLINE: 9/7/2021
If you’re having trouble making rent payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. For the estimated 8.8 million households behind on their rent, help may be available. Federal, state, and local governments are offering help with housing expenses and avoiding eviction. Visit the CFPB’s mortgage and housing assistance site to find out what this means for you and what you can do.
Want to learn how you can support the work of ACTA?