May 1, 2018 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation today announced $100,000 in grants for five local artists and projects that will grow the creative economy, advance artist careers and strengthen community engagement by increasing opportunities for San Diegans to experience arts and culture.

The grants, made possible through The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Program, are awarded to artists and their respective nonprofit sponsors who work collaboratively with each other and the community to develop and showcase their art projects. The 2018 recipients include Erica Buechner with Art Produce, Thelma Virata de Castro with Asian Story Theater, Matt Morrow with La Jolla Playhouse, Evan Apodaca with So Say We All, and Maxx Moses with The Urban Collaborative Project.

Artists are essential to the community-driven priorities identified in Our Greater San Diego Vision for how we work, enjoy, live and learn in the San Diego region. The arts ecosystem has a significant impact on the local economy and quality of life in our communities. According to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), $174.6 billion was added to the California economy in 2015 thanks to the arts. In addition, NEA studies show a strong correlation between the arts and the well-being of older adults, as well as developmental benefits during early childhood.

“Art serves as a powerful tool that allows communities to explore new ideas and engage with one another through a multitude of creative mediums,” expressed Katie Rast, Director of Community Impact at The San Diego Foundation. “Our investment in art sparks conversation, promotes civic engagement and celebrates our region’s unique diversity, strengthening our economy, our community and our culture.”

The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Program strengthens San Diego’s creative economy by advancing the careers of local professional artists, and explores social challenges and opportunities through art. Since its inception, the Creative Catalyst Program has partnered with more than 30 arts and culture nonprofits and 45 artist fellows, reaching more than 170,000 community members.

The Creative Catalyst Program projects will be developed through the summer and fall of 2018, with the final works expected to be shared with the community in late 2018 and early 2019.

The five artists and nonprofit sponsors include: 

Artist: Evan Apodaca
Apodaca is a filmmaker and media artist in San Diego whose films have been featured nationally on PBS and screened at film festivals and museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Chicano International Film Festival, the Tijuana Film and Food Festival and the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Nonprofit Sponsor: So Say We All
Project: Apodaca and So Say We All will develop a video series exploring military culture in San Diego and its role in the development of the region. Apodaca will utilize So Say We All’s storytelling outreach channels, including its Veterans’ Writers Division, to create an historically-accurate work through a collection of oral histories that bring local stories to a wider, regional audience and strengthen the connection between the community and San Diego history.

Artist: Erica Buechner
Buechner is a professional dancer, choreographer and producer in San Diego, who has performed for a variety of established dance companies in the region. Since 2011, she has co-produced youTurn Arts, an annual arts event that features visual artists and musicians from the San Diego region.
Nonprofit Sponsor: Art Produce
Project: Buechner will bring together members of the professional dance community with non-dancers, including individuals from local refuge communities and older adults in the City Heights and North Park areas, through creative workshops and a final performance that blends arts, movement-based learning, and story sharing. Dancers of all ages and abilities will explore the theme of “underneath” – what is hidden, secret or surprising in participants’ lives.

Artist: Matt Morrow
Morrow is an accomplished theatrical director whose vision for theater is defined by inclusivity and community outreach. Using technology as a powerful vehicle of communication and storytelling, Morrow brings new audiences, specifically young adults and professional technophiles, to experience and appreciate live theater.
Nonprofit Sponsor: La Jolla Playhouse
Project: Morrow will work with local cast, musicians, stage managers, and students at The Arts Institute of San Diego and/or UC San Diego Game Development Studio to create a theater production that blends technology and art. Using technology as a powerful vehicle of storytelling, Morrow will engage new audiences, specifically young adults and professional technophiles, to experience and appreciate live theater.

Artist: Maxx Moses
Moses is a renowned artist and mural designer whose projects blend community engagement and art to create works that incorporate the spirit of the surrounding communities. Moses also serves as an instructor, teaching the next generation of artists how to create a more inclusive and community-based arts ecosystem.
Nonprofit Sponsor: The Urban Collaborative Project
Project: Working with The Urban Collaborative Project, which brings together residents and artists to beautify areas in Southeast San Diego, Moses will help transform a vacant lot along Imperial Avenue Corridor by creating a functional art installation that will serve as a centerpiece for a community engagement space. Throughout the process, Moses will host workshops to teach hands-on mural making to youth in the Southeast San Diego-Encanto area.

Artist: Thelma Virata de Castro
Virata de Castro is a Filipino American playwright whose work explores a variety of subjects and styles, such as underserved communities, including immigrants and incarcerated individuals. She is also the founder of San Diego Playwrights, an all-volunteer network working to get local playwrights produced in San Diego.
Nonprofit Sponsor: Asian Story Theater
Project: Virata de Castro will work with Asian Story Theater to perform workshops across the region and create a theatrical piece that broadens multicultural awareness around domestic violence. She will work directly with those closest to the topic, including survivors, family members, law enforcement, and legal advocates. Through the project, de Castro will give a voice to the voiceless and connect the audience to the issue of domestic violence in a safe, intimate setting. All performances will include panel discussions and be open to the public.

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation maximizes the impact of your charitable giving. We mobilize philanthropic resources to advance quality of life, increase social impact and champion civic engagement. For more than 40 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1 billion to grow a vibrant San Diego region. Learn more on our website, and consider a donation to the Fund for the Future Endowment which supports San Diego community needs now and forever.


Vince Heald, Beck Ellman Heald, 858-453-9600,
Justin Nunez, The San Diego Foundation, 619-235-2300,