2023 California Arts Council (CAC) Individual Artist Fellowships totaling $660,000 have been awarded to 71 artists in the seventeen county central California region, ranging from Fresno through Santa Clara to Santa Barbara and nearly everywhere in between. The program is designed to recognize, uplift, and celebrate the excellence of California artists practicing any art form. In doing so, the CAC is showcasing the centrality of artists’ leadership in guiding the evolution of our traditional and contemporary cultures. The fellows were selected from 512 artists that applied within the region.


Note: The California Arts Council has not renewed the funding for this program. The details below are for reference only. There will not be a 2024 grant cycle.


This program will support artists at key career stages. It is intended to recognize and increase artists’ capacity for continued contribution to the field and our state. Through unrestricted funding and state-wide recognition as a California Arts Council Artist Fellow, this program is meant to uplift individual artistic practice. Artists and cultural practitioners from all disciplines are eligible to apply, with the intention of supporting diverse geographies and communities. Applications were accepted between March and May 2023.

Central California Region Program

The California Arts Council Individual Artists Fellowship Program (CAC IAF) is statewide, but these application and program guidelines are specifically designed for artists living and working in Central California. The Central California Region grant program is open to artists who live in one of 17 counties across central California: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Ventura.

Artists residing in other California counties are eligible to apply for the California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Program in their region. For more information, please visit the California Arts Council website.

Fellowship Program Administration

SVCREATES is the Administering Organization for this grant program, working in partnership with the CAC and leadership from local county arts agencies across 17 counties. To help make this program more accessible, the Central California Region has been divided into 3 micro-regions (see list below). The application and review process for each micro-region will be facilitated separately, through designated Lead Agencies. 

Micro-Region 1 - Lead Agency Santa Barbara Office of Arts and Culture
Counties: Kern, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo

Micro Region 2 - Lead Agency Fresno Arts Council
Counties: Fresno, Inyo, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare

Micro Region 3 - Lead Agency San Benito County Arts Council
Counties: Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz

Legacy Artists Only: SVCREATES will facilitate the application and review process for Legacy Artist applicants from all 17 counties in the Central California Region.

Fellowship Funding Levels

The CAC IAF program identifies three career tiers at which artists may benefit from this support, click below to read detailed descriptions and determine the right tier for you:


Eligible applicants will:

  • Be 18 years of age or older at the time of application submission.
  • Have, at minimum, a two-year history of artistic practice in California.
  • Reside in one of the following central California counties: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tulare, Ventura. Eligibility will be determined by your mailing address.
  • Recipients of the 2021 CAC Individual Artist Fellowship are not eligible to apply.
Review Criteria

Applications from individual artists and culture bearers will be adjudicated by peer review panels based on the following review criteria:

  • Creative Vision: Artist effectively communicates their personal story, artistic medium or practice, and long-term aspirations for their work.
  • Aesthetic Excellence: Artistic work and/or examples of cultural practice demonstrate strong alignment with the components of the Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change, including commitment, communal meaning, disruption, cultural integrity, risk taking, sensory experience, emotional experience, openness, coherence, resourcefulness, and stickiness.
  • Community Engagement and Social Impact: Artist effectively communicates a practice of meaningful engagement with their community(ies), and the positive social impact their work has had locally, regionally, and/or statewide, addressing themes including but not limited to race, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Application Requirements

Application requirements include narrative questions, work samples, artist resume/CV and one letter of support.

Grant Award Process

Applications are evaluated by panels of recognized field representatives who rank applications according to the program criteria. A limited number of fellowship grants will be awarded based on available funding. Grant contract administration and award notification will be managed by SVCREATES and Micro-Region Lead organization staff. Panels are not open to the public. Due to the high volume of applications, individual scores, ranking data, and feedback will not be available to applicants or the public. All award decisions will be final.

Grantee Requirements

Fellowship recipients will be required to:

  • Submit a W-9 form with their Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for payment purposes
  • Submit a brief report on the impact of the award after the conclusion of the Fellowship term (August 31, 2024)
  • Attend one online or in person convening of 2023 Fellows during the grant period
  • Provide, as available, links to artist website or social media for promotion of artist’s work

Application Opens: March 10, 2023
Application Deadline: May 5, 2023 at 5:00 pm
Panel Review period: June - July, 2023
Panel Interviews of Legacy Finalists: mid July
Award Notification: August 2023
Fellowship Term: September 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024
Fellows Final Report Due: October 15, 2024

Our Partners

Note: The CAC has not renewed this program. There will not be a 2024 grant cycle.

Congratulations to our 2023 CAC Artist Fellows for Central California >>
To view artists by fellowship tier, click here.

Read the press release here.