Roberto Bedoya, the city of Oakland’s cultural affairs manager, is one of two recipients of the 2021 Berresford Prize, an annual award administered by the national arts funding organization United States Artists. Bedoya and Lulani Arquette, president and CEO of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, based in Portland, Oregon, will each receive $25,000. The unrestricted prize, today’s announcement says, is given to cultural practitioners who have made significant contributions to the “advancement, wellbeing and care of artists in society.”
In a phone interview, Bedoya described himself as “humbled and thrilled,” saying that though he knew of the prize’s existence, receiving it was a complete surprise. Bedoya and Arquette were selected from a pool of about 50 nominees across the country; there is no application process for the award.
In the announcement, United States Artists noted that Bedoya and Arquette’s “visionary approaches engender cooperation, promote thoughtful civic engagement, and advocate for artists on a local and national level.”
The prize, named for United States Artists co-founder Susan V. Berresford, was created in 2019 to acknowledge those who labor mostly behind the scenes in the support of the arts such as administrators, curators and scholars: those creating the platforms and conditions that allow artists to successfully pursue their work.
Previous recipients include Kristy Edmunds, executive and artistic director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and Linda Good Bryant, a social activist, gallerist, filmmaker and founder of Active Citizen Project and Project EATS. This is the first time the prize has recognized two people in the same year, which United States Artists says comes from “an ethos of abundance and sharing”—a way of acknowledging the challenges and financial strains facing the arts sector over the past year.