Special Awards in the Arts

2016 Music Composition Awards

New Compositions Representing “today’s most influential
composers” will Premiere for Bay Area Audiences

Download Press Release

On February 1, 2017, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation announced the recipients of six $50,000 grants to support the creation and production of new music by California composers.

The works will be commissioned and premiered by Bay Area nonprofit organizations. Each organization will receive a $50,000 grant that will be used for a commissioning fee of $12,500 or more to each composer, with the remaining funds going to the presenting organization for expenses related to the creation and premiere of the pieces. The resulting new music works will have their world premiere public performances in the San Francisco Bay Area between December 2017 and June 2019. The grants are made in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also provided funding for the commissions.

This year’s recipients include:

  • Cultural Odyssey / Idris Ackamoor
  • Kitka, Inc. / Janet Kutulas
  • Kularts / Florante Aguilar
  • Other Minds / Brian Baumbusch
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus / Fred Frith
  • Women’s Audio Mission / Real Vocal String Quartet

For complete details, download the press release.

Download Press Release


For more than twenty-five years, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works from choreographers, playwrights, and composers. The Special Awards Program has also supported visual artists, poets, and multimedia artists.

In a time of cultural shifts and fiscal insecurity in the arts, these coveted, nationally respected awards have helped underwrite culturally and aesthetically diverse, acclaimed new works by prominent artists and emerging ones. These grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers; enabled nonprofit local arts groups to develop and debut substantial, original works; and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers, and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious new creations.


2016 — Music Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Cultural Odyssey / Idris Ackamoor
  • Kitka, Inc. / Janet Kutulas
  • Kularts / Florante Aguilar
  • Other Minds / Brian Baumbusch
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus / Fred Frith
  • Women’s Audio Mission / Real Vocal String Quartet

2015 — Playwright Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Intersection for the Arts (Campo Santo) / Roger Guenveur Smith
  • Magic Theatre / Jessica Hagedorn
  • San Jose Stage Company / Luis Valdez
  • Shotgun Players / Geetha Reddy
  • Youth Speaks / Paul S. Flores
  • Z Space / Kate E. Ryan

2014 — Choreographer Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Axis Dance Company / Stephan Koplowitz
  • CounterPulse / Dohee Lee
  • Destiny Arts Center / Nicole Klaymoon
  • ODC / Brenda Way
  • Project BANDALOOP / Amelia Rudolph
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / Kim Epifano

2013 — Music Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Circuit Network (San Francisco Electronic Festival) / Pamela Z
  • Door-Dog Music Productions Inc. (aka SF World Music Festival) / Anuradha Sridhar
  • Gamelan Sekar Jaya / Wayne Vitale
  • Kronos Quartet / Jonathan Berger
  • San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Inc. / Amy X Neuberg
  • Volti / Mark Winges

2012 — Playwright Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Circuit Network / Kristina Wong
  • Encore Theatre / Lauren Yee
  • Golden Thread / Torange Yeghiazarian
  • Intersection for the Arts (Campo Santo) / Chinaka Hodge
  • La Peña Cultural Center / Ariel Luckey
  • Magic Theatre / Luis Alfaro

2011 — Choreographer Commissioning Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Axis Dance Company / Victoria Marks
  • Dancers Group / mara Tabor-Smith
  • Flyaway Productions / Jo Kreiter
  • Margaret Jenkins Dance Studio Inc. / Margaret Jenkins
  • Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu Hula Halau / Patrick Makuakane
  • Yannis Adonious Kunst-Stoff / Yannis Adoniou

2010 — Composer Collaboration Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music – Laura Karpman and Independent Producers / Authors, The Kitchen Sisters
  • Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (FAMSF) – Sarah Wilson and Aerial Dance Company, Catch Me Bird
  • Jewish Community Center of San Francisco – Mark Izu and Choreographer Kimi Okada
  • Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose Incorporated (MACLA) – Guillermo
  • Galindo and Chamber Ensemble, Quinteto Latino
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus – Gabriela Lena Frank and Librettist Nilo Cruz
  • Z Space Studio (Z Space) – Marcus Shelby and Co-Creator Margo Hall

2009 — Playwright Collaboration Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Brava! For Women in the Arts / Cherrie L. Moraga and Conceptual Artist Celia Herrera Rodriguez
  • Intersection for the Arts / Sean San Jose and Writer Richard Montoya
  • ODC Theater / Julie Hebert and Choreographer Deborah Slater
  • San Francisco Circus Center / Itamar Moses and Acrobatics Team Sam Payne & Sandra Feusi
  • San Jose Stage Company / Jeannie Barroga and Choreographer Alleluia Panis
  • The Jewish Theatre San Francisco (A Traveling Jewish Theatre) / Corey Fischer and Filmmaker
  • Sam Ball

2008 — Choreographer Collaboration Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet / Alonzo King and Architectural Set Designer Christopher Haas
  • AXIS Dance Compan y/ Shinichi Iova-Koga and Composer Joan Jeanrenaud
  • Headlands Center for the Arts / Alex Ketley and Digital Media Artist Les Stuck
  • Idris Ackamoor and Cultural Odyssey / Joanna Haigood and Actress/Director Rhodessa Jones
  • Jess Curtis/Gravity Inc. / Jess Curtis and Dramaturge/Provacateur Guillermo Gómez-Peña
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / Sara Shelton Mann and Media Artist/Production Designer David
  • Szlasa

2007 — Emerging Composer Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • The Crucible / Dan Cantrell
  • Musical Traditions (Paul Dresher Ensemble) / Ryan Brown
  • Other Minds / Catherine Lamb
  • ROVA Arts / Carla Kihlstedt
  • San Francisco Chanticleer, Inc. / Mason Bates
  • San Francisco Jazz Organization (SF Jazz) / Adam Theis

2006 — Emerging Playwright Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • American Conservatory Theatre / Deontay Wilson
  • Asian American Theatre Workshop / Aurorae Khoo
  • Encore Theatre / Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
  • San Francisco Playhouse / Tim Barsky
  • Shotgun Players / Marcus Gardley
  • Youth Speaks / Marc Bamuthi Joseph

2005 — Emerging Choreographer Awards administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Danceart, Inc. / Eric Kupers
  • Dance Brigade / Ramon Ramos Alayo
  • Intersection for the Arts / Erika Chong Shuch
  • Jewish Community Center of San Francisco / Benjamin Levy
  • QCC – The Center for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Art & Culture / Sean Dorsey
  • Robert Moses Kin / Amy Seiwert

2003 — Opera/Musical Theatre administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco: composer Gang Situ and librettist-adaptor Chi-Ming Wong
  • San Francisco Opera: composer John Adams and librettist Peter Sellars
  • Thick Description: composer David Conte and librettist Oliver Mayer
  • Intersection: composer Beth Custer and librettist Octavio Solis
  • Berkeley Opera: composer Clark Suprynowicz and librettist John O’Keefe
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: composer John Santos and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph

2002 — Music Composition administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • The Kronos Performing Arts Association aka Kronos Quartet/Terry Riley
  • Pacific Chamber Symphony / Wayne Peterson
  • San Francisco Chamber Orchestra / Paul Dresher
  • San Francisco Contemporary Music Players / Pablo Ortiz
  • San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music & Del Sol String Quartet / Keeril Makan
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / Miya Masaoka

2001 — Visual Arts

  • Honolulu Academy of Arts
  • Corporation of Fine Arts Museum
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • S.F. Museum of Modern Art
  • Contemporary Museum (Honolulu)
  • Regents of the University of California

2000 — Choreography administered by the Gerbode Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation

  • Intersection: The Mission Wall Project by Jo Kreiter
  • Fort Mason Foundation: Kin by Robert Moses
  • Oakland Ballet: Yellow Carnival by Robert Henry Johnson
  • Zaccho Dance Theatre: Frames of Reference by Joanna Haigood
  • Margaret Jenkins Dance Company: May I Now by Margaret Jenkins
  • Yerba Buena Center: People of the Forest by Alonzo King

1999 — New Play Production

  • Intersection / Naomi lizuka
  • Magic Theatre / Cherylene lee
  • SEW Productions / Prince Gomolvilas
  • Aurora Theatre Company / Dorothy Bryant
  • The Marsh / The People’s Violin by Charlie Varon
  • Theatre of Yugen / Erik Ehn

1998 — Designer Residencies

  • Asian American Dance Collective / Cherfl Koehler
  • Brava for Women in the Arts / loy Arcenas
  • Idris Ackamoor and Cultural Odyssey / Stephanie Johnson
  • San Francisco Mime Troupe / Donyale Werle
  • San Francisco Womens Centers (sponsoring the Working Women Theatre Festival) / Kate Boyd
  • ShadowLight Productions / Margaret Hatcher

1997 — Visual Arts: Purchase of Works by Emerging Artists

  • Contemporary Museum (Honolulu)
  • Honolulu Academy of Arts
  • Berkeley Art Museum
  • De Young Museum
  • Oakland Museum
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern

1996 — Photography

  • American Indian Contemporary Arts / Zig Jackson
  • Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco / Tsung Woo Han
  • Friends of Photography / Young Kim
  • Intersection (sponsoring the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery) / Jim Goldberg
  • Oakland Museum / Lewis Watts

1995 — Performing Arts for Young Audiences

  • AXIS Dance Troupe/Thai’s Mazur and Nina Otis Haft: All in the Same Day
  • Berkeley Repertory Theatre/Anne Galjour: The Queen of the Sea
  • Dance Brigade/Krissy Keefer and Nina Fichter: Dignidad Revelde
  • Koncepts Cultural Gallery/devorah major and Robert Henry Johnson: So You Say You Don’t Like Jazz
  • San Francisco Mime Troupe/joan Holden: Inside Out
  • Theater Artaud/Pearl Ubungen: Take Me To The Tenderloin, Now!

1993-94 — Visual Arts administered by Capp Street Project

  • Gay Outlaw: Tinned Wall/Dark Matter
  • Margaret Crane/Jon Winet: General Hospital
  • DIWA: Bayanihan Transition
  • Connie Hatch: Navigational Crossroads
  • Alan Rath: Robot Ballet
  • Rigo 94: Innercity Home and One Tree

1992 — Poetry administered by Intersection for the Arts

  • Duane BigEagle
  • Laurie Price
  • Carla Harryman
  • Aaron Shurin
  • Norma Cole
  • Laura Moriarty
  • Peter Cole
  • Chitra Divakaruni

1991 — New Play Production

  • 80 Langton Street: Looking for Bayard by Brian Freeman
  • Berkeley Repertory Theatre: The Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda
  • Just So Productions/Blake Street Hawkeyes: Exacto by Tony Pellegrino
  • Eureka Theatre: Santos and Santos by Octavio Solis
  • Intersection for the Arts: Dance Along A Precipice by David Barth
  • Magic Theatre: XXX Love Act by Cintra Wilson
  • Oakland Ensemble Theater: Servant of the People by Robert Alexander

1990 — New Choreography

  • 80 Langton Street: Passions by Rick Darnell
  • Art Re Grup: The Secret Veil by Tracy Rhoades
  • Asian American Dance Collective: Chiaroscuro by Koichi Tamano
  • Dimensions Dance Theater: People of the Zozos by Deborah Vaughan
  • Lines, A Dance Company: Four Traditional Spirituals by Alonzo King
  • Regents of the University of California: Mira, Cycle II by Sara Shelton Mann
  • San Francisco Moving Company Modern Dance: Transformations by Della Davidson
  • Theater Artaud: Without a Place by Joe Goode
  • Zaccho, SF: The Inside Room by Joanna Haigood

1989 — New Music Composition

  • 80 Langton Street: Chris Brown
  • City Celebration, Jazz in the City: Tony Williams
  • Composers, Inc.: Wayne Peterson
  • Pacifica Foundation: Lou Harrison
  • San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: John Adams
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus: Anithaca by Elinor Armer

1988 — Interdisciplinary Arts

  • Antenna Theater: Airlock
  • Fort Mason Foundation: Go
  • Joe Goode Performance Group: Remembering the Pool at the Best Western
  • Margaret Jenkins Dance Co: Window Woman Square
  • Rova Saxophone Quartet: Occupancy
  • SEW Productions: The Bluest Eye
  • Teatro de la Esperanza: La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique
  • Zaccho, SF: A Space In Between

1987 — Theatre Production

  • Eureka Theatre: Angels in America by Tony Kushner
  • Magic Theatre: Pledging My Love by John Steppling
  • Musical Traditions: The Detective Piece
  • Oakland Ensemble Theatre: Ain’t No Use in Going Home by John O’Neal
  • Soon 3 Theatre: Synthetic Solitudes
  • Theatre Rhinoceros: In the Summer When It’s Hot and Sticky by Doug Hosclaw