“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation.”  – Lyndon Johnson

The full potential of art exists when it falls in perfect harmony with community engagement.

This is the premise of The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst program and its latest set of artist fellows that partner with arts and culture organizations to create new works for all San Diegans.

Since 2011, the program has supported 35 artists, whose works have benefited more than 170,000 San Diegans.

From nationally-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated composer Wu Man, to producer/director Ron Najor, whose work has been showcased at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the Creative Catalyst program provides an opportunity and avenue for San Diego’s most promising and successful artists to thrive and share their work.

The program reflects The Foundation’s belief and recognition that artists contribute to our region’s vitality, economy and quality of life. Artists are essential to the community-driven priorities identified in Our Greater San Diego Vision for how we Work, Enjoy, Live and Learn (WELL) in San Diego County.

Support the Creative Catalyst Program

This year, we’re thrilled to support five fellows who will bring unique, diverse projects to San Diego over the course of the next 12 months. Subscribe to SDF News to get the latest dates and details.

Coming Soon to a Venue Near You

Steve Gunderson

Actor, composer, arranger, orchestrator, musical director, director and playwright

Steve Gunderson - Creative Catalyst Fellow

Steve Gunderson, second from the left, shares the stage during a performance of Into the Woods.

Sponsor: The San Diego Ballet
Project: “The Artificial Woman” is a collaborative music/theatre/dance piece exploring artistic, romantic and power relationships between artists Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler and its reflection in today’s society. When Alma broke off the suffocating affair, Oskar eventually commissioned an artist to make a life size Alma doll, and in this tale the doll becomes the truth teller of the piece, ready to pounce on the roles that society dictates women are supposed to play, and turn them on their heads.

Michelle Montjoy

Practicing artist and teacher

Michelle Montjoy - Creative Catalyst Fellow

Community members take part in Michelle Montjoy’s collaborative artwork during a Free Family Day at Lux Art Institute.

Sponsor: Oceanside Museum of Art
Project: “River” is the reimagining of traditional techniques and attitudes of knitting into a contemporary role that connects communities through comfort, inspiration and empowerment.  Using large table top looms or finger crocheting forms, the community will be invited to contribute to a visual conversation by knitting or crocheting, braiding or knotting a form using old t-shirts.

David Reynoso

Scenic and costume designer

David Reynoso - Creative Catalyst Fellow

Actors showcase David Reynoso’s costume design during a performance of Arms and the Man at The Old Globe.

Sponsor: The Old Globe
Project: “Waking La Llorona” is a visually lush, immersive theatrical experience inspired by Mexican myths and folklore and their correlations to San Diego and other cultures throughout the globe. Inspired by the relationships between the Mexican legend of La Llorona, the Ancient Greek tragedy of Medea and the Irish Banshee story, this project will explore these legends through the lens of Medea, allowing themes of social oppression, sexism, and racial divides to rise to the surface.

Janet Tiger


Janet Tiger - Creative Catalyst Fellow

Actors Tiffany Tang and Philip John perform in Janet Tiger’s Time Travel Café.

Sponsor: Playwrights Project
Project: “Caregivers Anonymous” is a theatrical experience illuminating caregiving as a valuable element of our society and designed to entertain as well as to be a catalyst for change. A collection of connected monologues about a diverse group of ordinary, yet extraordinary people who care for others, this project will create awareness of the essential nature of caregiving.

Tim West

Stage performer, director and playwright

Tim West - Creative Catalyst Fellow

(Left to right) Jonathan Dunn-Ranking, Tim West, Melissa Fernandes and Tom Andrew perform It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at the Cygnet Theatre.

Sponsor: San Diego Writers, Ink
Project: “Upstart Crow” is a serial collaborative theatrical event based on the Lost Years of William Shakespeare, a narrative across six (6) episodes in a year-long mini-season of original drama. A writing team will pair younger writers from community organizations, high schools, and universities, with more experienced writers to mentor them.

How Creative Catalyst Grows San Diego’s Creative Economy