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City of Santa Monica Awards $20,000 Fellowships to Storytelling Artists


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By Lookout Staff

September 5, 2017 -- The City of Santa Monica has awarded two performance artists who specialize in storytelling $20,000 fellowships that are "among the most robust, city-based individual artist support grants in the U.S.," cultural officials announced last week.

The fellowships were given to D’Lo, a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American writer/performer, and Dan Kwong, a veteran performance artist who has presented solo works since 1989, officials said.

Three local artists also will receive $4,000 Artist Project Fellowships -- Choreographers Christine Suarez and Jacob Jonas, and novelist Mark Sarvas.
Picture of Dan Kwong

“Artists are a vital part of the ecosystem that makes Santa Monica a vibrant city," said Shannon Daut, the City's Cultural Affairs Manager. "These fellowship awards are a celebration of the artists who enrich our lives and strengthen our community."

Since it was established eight years ago, Santa Monica's Artist Fellowship program has awarded grants to 34 recipients who have included visual artists, filmmakers, choreographers and writers.

Dan Kwong (Pictures courtesy City of Santaa Monica)

The program "recognizes artistic excellence, nourishes the production of new work from the world-class visions and voices of Santa Monica’s rich diversity, and reinforces our community’s high regard for creativity and innovation," City officials said in a statement.

This year's two major recipients have made their mark practicing and teaching the art of storytelling.
Picture of D'Lo

D’Lo -- whose work ranges from stand-up comedy to solo theater, plays, films, music, poetry and spoken word -- uses comedy to tackle controversial issues.

He also has held workshops on college and university campuses.

His stand-up storytelling show D’FunQT (pronounced “defunct”) has toured cities in half a dozen countries with the support of the Ford Foundation.

“At a time when artists are being called upon to bring messages of hope, this award makes it easy to address the climate, with the aim of creating more understanding and compassion," he said in a statement.

Dan Kwong, who also uses humor in his work, combines storytelling, multimedia, physical movement, poetry, martial arts and music "to explore the personal, the historical, the social and the unspeakable," officials said.

Kwong says he will use the fellowship "to continue working on my documentary/art video.”

The year’s award panel included Mecca Vazie Andrews, a dancer, choreographer and musician; L.A. County Arts Commissioner Tomas Benitez, a longtime advocate of Chicano/Latino arts; author Irene Borger, who is director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and Lorne Buchman, president of the Art Center College of Design.


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