SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica’s Artist Fellowship program is among the most robust, city-based individual artist support grants in the U.S. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica, the city has announced that this year two Santa Monica artists will receive $20,000 fellowships:

-D’Lo: Tamil-Sri Lankan queer/transgender performer and writer

-Dan Kwong: Veteran performance artist, writer, and visual artist


“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,” said artist D’Lo.

Three local artists will receive $4,000 Artist Project Fellowships: Choreographers Christine Suarez and Jacob Jonas, and novelist Mark Sarvas. The Artist Fellowship program now in its eighth year, 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.

D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American writer/performer whose work ranges from stand-up comedy to solo theater, plays, films, music, poetry and spoken word. He is a co-producer for DisOriented Comedy. D’Lo tours and facilitates workshops on the university/college circuit with D’FaQTo Life and Ramble-A tions: A One D’Lo Show, which received the National Performance Network Creation Fund Award. His full-length stand-up storytelling show D’FunQT (pronounced “defunct”) has toured to SF, the UK, and seven cities in India and Sri Lanka, with support from the Ford Foundation.

Dan Kwong is a veteran performance artist, writer, teacher and visual artist who has been presenting his solo performances since 1989. Hailed by critics as “a master storyteller,” Kwong draws upon his own life experiences to explore the personal, the historical, the social and the unspeakable. With humor and insight, he intertwines storytelling, multimedia, physical movement, poetry, martial arts and music

Jacob Jonas is a choreographer and director. At 13, he joined the Calypso Tumblers, a street-performing group on the Venice boardwalk, and performed with them around the world. Jacob was later mentored by Donald Byrd, a Bessie award winner and Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle. Jacob’s works have been performed at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out and the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York. He was nominated by Dance Magazine as “Best Emerging Choreographer” and was named “Best New Force in L.A Dance” for 2016 by LA Weekly. Jacob founded his company in 2014 and is working to bring dance to a wider audience through collaboration, technology, education, and performance,

Mark Sarvas is an American novelist, book reviewer, and blogger. He is the host of the literary blog The Elegant Variation and author of the novel Harry, Revised (Bloomsbury, spring 2008). Harry, Revised was a finalist for the Fiction Prize of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and a 2008 Denver Post Good Reads selection. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, PEN/America and a contributing editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. His second novel, Memento Park, was acquired for publication by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in May 2014,

Christine Suarez is a choreographer, performer and educator. Born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Baton Rouge Louisiana, she has created dance-theater works, site-specific events and dances for theater and film. Her work has been presented at various venues including New York’s Danspace Project, P.S. 122, HERE, Joyce SoHo and Dixon Place. She was an Artist-in-Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center from 2003-2006. In 1998, she founded SuarezDanceTheater, a New York-based not-for-profit, ensemble of dancers, actors and musicians, moving the company to Santa Monica in 2008. Her work has toured nationally and internationally to over 20 cities

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

The program launched in 2010 as a complement to Santa Monica’s arts organizational grant programs, in accordance with Creative Capital, the city’s cultural plan. Award amounts are designed for impact in an arts community that must sustain itself in the context of the City’s high cost of living.

“I am deeply honored, and very excited about the possibilities [the Fellowship] creates for me to continue working on my documentary/art video,” says Kwong.

The 34 (and counting) recipients of the award are among Santa Monica’s most creative and innovative artists, and include filmmaker Meena Nanji, visual artists Analia Saban, Alex Donis and Phyllis Green, choreographers Rudy Perez and Lionel Popkin, theatre/film auteur Patrick Kennelly, and novelists Charles Yu and Laila Lalami, among many others.

The year’s award panel included Mecca Vazie Andrews, dancer, choreographer and musician; Tomas Benitez, former Executive Director of Self Help Graphics and L.A. County Arts Commissioner; Irene Borger, author and Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; and Lorne Buchman, President of Art Center College of Design.

The City of Santa Monica Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division brings the City’s art scene to life for residents and visitors by supporting engaging and accessible cultural events for all ages throughout the year. Cultural Affairs nurtures local arts organizations, promotes artist involvement in the community, manages the landmark Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and presents and produces innovative programs citywide at the Annenberg Community Beach House, the historic Miles Playhouse, the Camera Obscura and in the city’s parks, enriching Santa Monica’s reputation as an international cultural destination. For more information, visit