Performing Arts

Unrestricted Support for Artists


To strengthen a fair and sustainable system of unrestricted support to individual artists across the country. 


  • Doris Duke Artist Awards – Awards flexible and unrestricted multi-year support to exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz, theater and related interdisciplinary fields to empower them to take creative risks and pay for important needs not typically funded by project-related grants. 
  • DDCF-funded United States Artists Fellowships – Provides unrestricted funding awards to individual artists in jazz, dance and theater through the selection process of United States Artists.

Doris Duke Artist Awards

The Doris Duke Artist Awards are flexible, multi-year grants of up to $275,000 that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) annually awards to a select number of artists in the fields of dance, jazz and theater. Each award is largely unrestricted but includes a special allotment of funding to incentivize retirement savings.

The Doris Duke Artist Awards originated out of DDCF's special $50-million Doris Duke Performing Artist Initiative, a special allocation of funding by DDCF's board in addition to its existing funding commitment to the arts. The awards program launched in 2011 in partnership with Creative Capital. Consisting of two tiers of support—the Doris Duke Artist Awards and the Doris Duke Impact Awards—the program responded to frank feedback DDCF was receiving from artists about their needs, many of which are not met by project-oriented grants and commissions. These needs include but are not limited to research and development time, study, professional development and basic life necessities, such as health insurance and retirement funds.

While the special, finite initiative concluded in 2016, DDCF continues to address these important concerns and recognize the exemplary work of individual artists through a smaller number of Doris Duke Artist Awards, which are administered internally and drawn from the foundation’s core budget for funding the performing arts.

Doris Duke Artists are chosen based on demonstrated evidence of exceptional creativity, ongoing self-challenge and the continuing potential to make significant contributions to the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater. An external panel of experts reviews award candidates; however, the program is not open to application.

DDCF-funded United States Artists Fellowships

DDCF funds United States Artists to support individual artists with flexible funding awards. The foundation began supporting these fellowships in 2016, in collaboration with other national foundations, in an effort to continue to strengthen the system of unrestricted support to individual artists across the country. DDCF’s initial commitment with United States Artists comprises 12 awards to artists per year for five years, totaling 60 awards in the fields of jazz, dance and theater. These awards are administered through the selection process of United States Artists. 

For more information about this initiative, please visit United States Artists.