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    TRANSfutures Artist Commissions Awarded to Extraordinary Cohort of BIPOC Trans Artists and Organizations

    At a time of emergency for transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America, there is finally some good news! Bay Area favorite trans/queer arts organization Fresh Meat Productions is announcing their 2024 TRANSfutures Commissions awards in this exclusive piece for the San Francisco Bay Times. Fresh Meat Productions is a beloved and innovative trans-led nonprofit celebrated for their wildly-popular annual Fresh Meat Festival of trans & queer performance, and resident company Sean Dorsey Dance.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What are the TRANSfutures Commissions?

    Eric Garcia, Fresh Meat Productions Managing Director: Our TRANSfutures Commissions are annual, community-nominated grants we award to 20 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) transgender, gender-nonconforming, Indigenous Two-Spirit, non-binary, gender-expansive and genderqueer performing artists across the U.S. TRANSfutures artists are nominated and selected by a national cohort of BIPOC TGNC2S+ Nominators. And these are totally unrestricted grants—meaning the artists don’t have to necessarily produce something or show us a certain outcome. Rather, these grants are intended to be an investment in the ongoing artistic, creative, and community practices of these brilliant artists.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What kind of artists are we talking about here?

    Sean Dorsey, Fresh Meat Productions Artistic Director: Wow! This cohort is extraordinary. These are artists at the cutting edge of music, vogue/ballroom, theater, drag, performance art, photography and multi-media, and so much more.

    San Francisco Bay Times: This year alone, the U.S. has seen over 550 anti-transgender bills introduced in 42 states. How do these Commissions relate to that?

    Sean Dorsey: This year, we expanded the scope of the Commissions program to be truly national. This was strategic on our part, since it enables cross-community collaboration, solidarity, and movement building on a national scale. We supported lots of Bay Area artists, and then some of our Commissions were awarded to BIPOC TGNC artists and organizations really on the frontlines in Southern states with the most anti-trans activity right now.

    Eric Garcia: Fresh Meat Productions invests in artists as agents of social change and justice—and this program is a big part of that!

    San Francisco Bay Times: Can you share a bit about some of the artists?

    Eric Garcia: This year, the community nominators who selected the awardees were: Drago Rentería (Bay Area), Salimatu Amabebe aka BARRACUDA (Bay Area), The Knights and Orchids Society (Alabama), Ty Defoe (New York), and The Mackenzie Project (Florida).

    Sean Dorsey: This year’s incredible artists and organizations are: Armani Lawrence, Asteria LaFaye Summers, Bee Rose Tremmel, Camille Lewis and Color N Raw, Drago Rentería, Futaba Shioda, Helixir Jynder Byntwell, Jerome Hawkins, Joshua Baker, KEEKS, Mickaela Bradford, Mondo Vaden, Raven Kameʻenui-Becker, Salimatu Amabebe aka BARRACUDA, Terrica Maura, The McKenzie Project, The Knights and Orchids Society, TRANSLUCENT or Yamilette Carrión, Ty Defoe, and Zariya.

    San Francisco Bay Times: Where can we learn more about these artists?

    Eric Garcia: You can read about all these incredible artists and groups on our website at:

    The San Francisco Bay Times asked the 2024 TRANSfutures Artists: What did this TRANSfutures Commission make possible for you?

    “The TRANSfutures Commission made employment as an artist possible for me by offering the financial resources I need as a transgender actor. As a transgender actor of color who has navigated an expensive medical transition, I now have the funding to pursue physical therapy, speech therapy, vocal re-training, and acting training. I am also able to get updated headshots and reels, valuable for any actor but especially for transgender and non-binary artists. I can use these resources to work competitively as an actor and to offer myself as a vessel for underrepresented stories. By acting as a bridge between artist and employer, the TRANSfutures Commission helps bring transgender voices to the stage and the greater world.”

    —Futaba Shioda

    “Transfutures made it possible for me to continue funding my career. More importantly, TRANSfutures fed me and helped me keep a roof over my head during times of hardship. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Living as an artist in the city is not easy. I felt so supported and lucky to receive this gift.”

    —Yamilette Carrión aka TRANSLUCENT

    We then asked the 2024 TRANSfutures Artists: Do you think this TRANSfutures Commission program is important at this moment in America?

    “The TRANSfutures Commission program is vital in supporting transgender and non-binary artists, leading to the creation of relevant, ideology-shifting art.”

    —Futaba Shioda

    “I believe the TRANSfutures Commission program is especially important now in a time where folks are just barely getting by these days, if at all. As an artist it can be challenging creating art when the need for basic survival is so great, let alone fund it if you’re lucky. Programs like this and the wonderful humans behind it make it possible for artists like myself to see our visions all the way through. Being QTBIPOC in America is often challenging because, for some reason, strangers think they know you better than you know yourself and it’s truly amazing and refreshing to have a community that supports you and your art, and genuinely wants to see you thrive.”

    —Helixir Jynder Byntwell

    “Most definitely. So many trans artists, especially Black trans folks, are often left out of funding opportunities. This program is an investment into work that America needs. America needs to see and know that we are here, and we’re beautiful and our art is needed too.”

    —TC Caldwell, The Knights & Orchids Society, Inc.

    Learn more about this year’s TRANSfutures Commissions on Fresh Meat Productions’ website:

    For more Fresh Meat events, check out the May 9 special event FRESH CONVERSATION!—a chance to hear up close and personal stories from API Trans Community activist leaders Nicky “Tita Aida” Calma and Cecelia Chung, hosted by the Queer Cultural Center’s Anand Kalra.

    And save the date for the 23rd annual FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL of trans and queer performance (June 21–23 at Z Space, San Francisco. All performances will be ASL interpreted; the venue is wheelchair accessible and has all-gender bathrooms.

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on May 9, 2024