Fred Uhl Ball Memorial Fund for Artists in Crisis

Helping local artists in need

Fred Ball with one of his pieces, 1980. Photo by Kurt Edward Fishback.

Fred Ball was a talented artist whose life was cut short by a robbery attack in his Sacramento studio in 1985. In response to the tragedy, Fred’s many friends came together to endow the Fred Uhl Ball Memorial Fund for Artists in Crisis at the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. In tribute to Fred’s gentle nature and willingness to help others, the Fund assists visual artists in the region who find themselves in a crisis situation—whether due to illness, injury, or other trauma.


More than 30 years after his death, Fred’s friends and admirers continue to make annual donations to build the endowment to support talented artists at a time when they most need help.


"The Fund is fulfilling its promise," say Fred's friends, who are advisors for the Fund. "Many regional artists have received grants to help them through medical and financial emergencies. Sacramento can be proud of being one of the few areas in the country to make a tangible commitment to the welfare of its artists."

You can help local artists in need by making a gift to the endowment at the Foundation, and support the Fund that has helped dozens of artists in the Sacramento region.



Artists in need may obtain an application for grant support by contacting the Foundation's Grant & Scholarship Manager, Tina Bryce, at

The Fund's History

On an evening in September 1985, Fred was returning to his studio. After unlocking the studio door, which opened onto an alley, he was attacked by several assailants. After being taken to the hospital, it was clear that his injuries were very serious. Fred’s medical scans and tests showed that he had several crushed vertebrates and would probably be paraplegic, if not quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

Many of his friends asked what they could do to help. Immediately, a small group came together. They included:

  • Kathryn Ball, Fred’s mother
  • Fred Dalkey, an artist, a friend of Fred’s and a distant relative
  • Betty Mast, director of the Artists Contemporary Gallery, Fred’s gallery
  • Malcolm Weintraub, attorney and friend of Kathryn and Fred
  • Susan Willoughby, friend and Fred’s agent for large commissions

Among other items, this group wanted to put together a way for people to donate to Fred’s future. They approached the Foundation and asked for permission to set up an Artists in Crisis endowment fund, so that tax-deductible contributions could be received.

But just as the fund became operational, Fred passed away. 

A number of artists encouraged the committee to continue with the Fund. Nothing like this Fund had ever been set up to help artists in the community. As artists, they did not have money to contribute, but were willing to donate their art if an auction could be set up to support the Fund's initial growth. After months of organizing, the auction raised $25,000, which grew the initial funds in the endowment to $35,000. 

Since 1985, the directors of the Artists in Crisis Fund have sent out a solicitation letter to art donors in the community annually. Because of these donations, and the careful investment of the Fund by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, the Fund has grown significantly. 

As of June 2019, the Fund has made grants to 37 different artists. Most of these grants were to help artists keep working — covering rent, art materials, and lost wages while overcoming medical issues.



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