Kirti Bassendine, Aidet Maupomé and Vencia Prudencio. Photos courtesy of SBC Arts Council.

Information provided by the San Benito County Arts Council

Prestigious 2023 California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships, totaling $660,000, have been awarded to 71 artists across 17 counties in the Central California region, with three awards going to artists based in San Benito County. The Individual Artist Fellowship (IAF) Program is designed to recognize, uplift, and celebrate the excellence of California artists practicing any art form. Through this program, the California Arts Council and local arts agencies aim to highlight the centrality of artists’ leadership and impact in the evolution of our traditional and contemporary cultures. The artist fellows were selected from 512 applicants that applied to the IAF Program within the Central California region. Visit the SVCREATES’ website to view a full list of the artist fellows.

The San Benito County Arts Council extends congratulations to all fellows, particularly to the three artist fellows awarded in San Benito County: Aidet Maupomé and Kirti Bassendine, who were awarded the Established Artist Fellowship ($10,000/each), and Vencia Prudencio, who was awarded the Emerging Artist Fellowship ($5,000).

The fellowship grants support individual artistic practice through unrestricted funding and were selected by peer-review panels comprised of artists, arts administrators, and arts educators assembled from counties throughout the region. The application submission period opened March 10, 2023 and closed on May 5, 2023.

The review panels met in mid-July 2023 to make their final recommendations. This program is intended to support a broad spectrum of artists working in all disciplines, from diverse geographies and communities of all sizes across the state of California. Alongside the Emerging and Established Artist categories, additional fellowships were awarded for Legacy Artist Fellow category at $50,000/each.

SVCREATES, the nonprofit countywide arts agency for Santa Clara County, served as the Administering Organization for the region and led a consortium of 16 county arts councils that ensured robust local outreach and representation. The San Benito County Arts Council was proud to partner with SVCREATES as the Micro- Region 3 Lead, managing the grant application and panel process for 6 counties within Central California region, ensuring deep reach into San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.

Alexendra Urbanowski, Associate Director of SVCREATES noted, “Our partnerships and collaborative structure for the IAF program resulted in applications from artists in each county in the region. We are thrilled with the geographic and cultural diversity represented by the artists selected as Fellows.” SVCREATES lead partners are Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture, Fresno Arts Council, and San Benito County Arts Council.

Jennifer Laine, Executive Director of the San Benito County Arts Council stated, “A significant aspect of our role as a local arts agency is to help make public funding more accessible to local artists, culture bearers and creative practioners. By partnering with SVCreates and several other local arts agencies in the Central CA region, we were able to increase the number of grant awards in our region, especially in our rural communities, and we are particularly proud of three very talented and well-deserving artists that were awarded fellowship here in San Benito County- Venencia, Aidet and Kirti. Congratulations to all of the IAF Artists.

Artists that reside outside Central California are served by three other CAC IAF Program Regions. Information about those may be found here: