Arts Orange County selected Dana Point resident Anthony Small as a California Arts Council Legacy Artist Fellowship recipient for his work to further art and culture through several community projects, the organization announced on Tuesday, July 25.
Like a lifetime achievement award, the Legacy Artist Fellows recognizes artists who have had a lasting and significant impact on their community through their creative output, Arts OC President and CEO Richard Stein explained.
In addition to co-founding the music education nonprofit Music Preserves Foundation, Small writes as a guest columnist for the Dana Point Times, is executive-producing the upcoming documentary Los Lobos—Native Sons, served on Dana Point’s Arts and Culture Commission and was most recently selected to serve as an Ambassador of Music for the Dana Point Sister Cities.
When applying for the fellowship, Small noted that he saw the gestalt of his impact on furthering art and storytelling rather than the individual projects themselves.
“These various projects that I’ve been a part of and grown in our community, oftentimes some people saw them as disparate projects, but I always saw them each as pulling very hard in the same direction for art and community and amplifying diversity and storytelling,” Small said.
Each project is “extremely fulfilling,” Small added. “I feel like that’s why I’m here; that’s what I was put here to do.”
Small added that he feels fulfilled when he “sees the kids’ eyes light up in the classroom when we share those stories of the various genres of music and hopefully inspiring the kids.”
“The best part is broadening the horizons and inspiring kids of all ages; by that, I mean our community and the adults in our community as well,” Small said.
Through his column “Dana Point ROCKS” in the Dana Point Times, Small noted he’s able to “amplify diverse artists and businesses.”
“Telling those types of stories again just pulls in the same direction,” Small said. “The opportunity to work on the Los Lobos documentary these last few years, being on the Arts and Culture Commission and having been given that opportunity by the city and City Council, I think launched me into these chapters of my life.”
Small added that he’d like to thank “my kids for believing in their old dad and his dreams, and my wife, Bonnie, not only for her support but for her example of service to others and the community.”
Stein said the Fellows grant is “a competitive process involving peer panels.”
According to a media release, 779 artists applied within the Southern California region of Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties. Of the 779 artists that applied, 58 artists were awarded fellowships.
Arts OC is the state partner for Orange County, working with the California Arts Council to provide services and programs locally.
In addition to the fellowship program, the California Arts Council provides “operating support for arts organizations to provide project grants that address specific needs,” Stein explained. “For example, arts programs for veterans, arts programs for youths, arts programs for the incarcerated for reentry and arts programs targeting underserved areas.”
Small is among eight legacy fellows selected who will receive a $50,000 grant.
“The other thing to know about the program is it’s unusual in that it is not a typical grant program where you apply with a project,” Stein said.
“This was simply a Fellowship Award on the basis of your achievements as an artist, whether you’re an early career emerging artist category or whether you’re an established artist who’s been at it for a number of years or if you’re more in the category of lifetime achievement legacy artists who have been doing it for many years,” Stein continued.
The grant funds are unrestricted, allowing artists to use the funds as they see fit.
“If they have a project in mind with it, that’s great,” Stein said. “If they don’t, but just want to continue working on the projects that they’re already doing or pursuing their creative output or engaging with the community in the way that they do, that’s all perfectly fine.”
Small added that he looks to continue to make an impact through his artistic practices, Music Preserves Foundation and the Los Lobos documentary.
“All of those things are about broadening the horizons of all people, not just students and sharing multicultural stories, music and other art that isn’t always presented to the community,” Small said.
Editor’s Note: Anthony Small is a PFM contributor who writes the Dana Point ROCKS column for the Dana Point Times.