Sri Lanka Express

City of Santa Monica honors SL-Tamil transgender artist with $20,000 grant

D'Lo (Photo courtesy City of Santa Monica)
By Hassina Leelarathna
September 6, 2017
The City of Santa Monica has honored a Tamil-Sri Lankan artist with one of its two $20,000 fellowships for artists specializing in storytelling.


The fellowships, described by the city’s cultural officials as "among the most robust, city-based individual artist support grants in the U.S.," were given to D’Lo, a queer/transgender writer/ performer and Dan Kwong, a veteran performance artist who has presented solo works since 1989, officials said.

“At a time when artists are being called upon to bring messages of hope, this award makes it easy to address the climate, with the aim of creating more understanding and compassion," D’Lo said in a statement.

Three local artists also will receive $4,000 Artist Project Fellowships -- Choreographers Christine Suarez and Jacob Jonas, and novelist Mark Sarvas.

“Artists are a vital part of the ecosystem that makes Santa Monica a vibrant city," said Shannon Daut, the City's Cultural Affairs Manager. "These fellowship awards are a celebration of the artists who enrich our lives and strengthen our community."

Since it was established eight years ago, Santa Monica's Artist Fellowship program has awarded grants to 34 recipients who have included visual artists, filmmakers, choreographers and writers.

The program "recognizes artistic excellence, nourishes the production of new work from the world-class visions and voices of Santa Monica’s rich diversity, and reinforces our community’s high regard for creativity and innovation," City officials said in a statement.

This year's two major recipients have made their mark practicing and teaching the art of storytelling.

D’Lo -- whose work ranges from stand-up comedy to solo theater, plays, films, music, poetry and spoken word -- uses comedy to tackle controversial issues.

He also has held workshops on college and university campuses.

His stand-up storytelling show D’FunQT (pronounced “defunct”) has toured cities in half a dozen countries with the support of the Ford Foundation.
The year’s award panel included Mecca Vazie Andrews, a dancer, choreographer and musician; L.A. County Arts Commissioner Tomas Benitez, a longtime advocate of Chicano/Latino arts; author Irene Borger, who is director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and Lorne Buchman, president of the Art Center College of Design.

D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American writer/performer whose work ranges from stand-up comedy to solo theater, plays, films, music, poetry and spoken word. He is a co-producer for DisOriented Comedy. D’Lo tours and facilitates workshops on the university/college circuit with D’FaQTo Life and Ramble-A tions: A One D’Lo Show, which received the National Performance Network Creation Fund Award. His full-length stand-up storytelling show D’FunQT (pronounced “defunct”) has toured to SF, the UK, and seven cities in India and Sri Lanka, with support from the Ford Foundation.