Artist Fellowships Presented to Five Nationally-Known Local Artists and Program Names New Award in Memory of Local Filmmaker and Digital Artist

August 11, 2021 10:00 AM

SANTA MONICA, Calif.  The Santa Monica Artist Fellowship program, now in its twelfth year, is the City’s highly regarded individual artist grant program that awards two artists with $16,000 Artist Fellowships, and three artists with $4,200 Project Fellowships.  


For this year’s program, a new category was formed under Project Fellowships. The City’s Arts Commission created the Kate Johnson Digital Arts Fellowship in honor of the beloved local filmmaker and digital media artist who passed in 2020. This new award supports artists in the electronic and/or digital disciplines, including digital film, video, internet- and gaming-based work, and interactive fine art. 


This year’s Artist Fellows include choreographer Jacob Jonas and songwriter and visual artist Phranc. Project Fellows are filmmaker Yule Caise, visual artist Debra Disman and artist Jody Zellen receiving the inaugural Kate Johnson Digital Arts Fellowship.  


One of the largest, public-sector, individual artist programs in the U.S., the City of Santa Monica’s Artist Fellowship program was launched in 2009 as part of the City’s Creative Capital Cultural Plan, which identified individual artist support as a critical component of the local arts ecosystem. The program provides a platform for both emerging and established artists and reinforces residents’ long-standing regard for creativity and innovation. 


“It's hard to express how much this means to me as an artist, to be recognized by my home city of Santa Monica for past and present work on James Baldwin,” says Project Fellow and filmmaker Yule Caise. “I plan to invite a group of local youth to participate in my development process to give back to the Santa Monica community that has been so supportive of me thus far." 


“[I’m] grateful to have this honor and the acknowledgment of our work,” says Artist Fellow and choreographer Jacob Jonas. “Being born and raised in Santa Monica, it means the world to have the City support the arts and our impact globally."  


This year’s review panel included: former Santa Monica Pier Executive Director Negin Singh; former L.A. County Arts Commissioner and former Executive Director of Self Help Graphics Tomás Benitez; visual artist and writer Max King Cap; former Getty Museum Performing Arts Specialist and dramaturg, Norman Frisch; and scholar and writer Heather Dundas. 


Bios and photos for the 2021-2022 Fellowship awardees 


For more information on the Artist Fellowship program, visit 


For an archive of past recipients, visit 


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