Performing Arts

Unrestricted Support for Artists


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


The Arts Program aims to strengthen the system of unrestricted artist support through two complementary initiatives that increase opportunities for such support for individual artists:

  • United States Artists Doris Duke Fellows – Provides unrestricted funding awards to individual artists in jazz, dance and theater through the selection process of United States Artists; 
  • Doris Duke Performing Artists Initiative –  Awarded artists flexible and unrestricted multi-year support, administered through Creative Capital. This initiative also continues to support artist residencies designed to increase demand for the performing arts.

Background & Rationale

Doris Duke's will specifically instructs the foundation to support artists. Guided by this directive and by an understanding of the personal passions Doris Duke pursued throughout her life, DDCF focuses its funding on jazz, theater and contemporary dance as well as organizations that produce and present artists in those fields. The record of artists supported through DDCF commissions and artistic endowments is an extraordinary one, and the foundation is justifiably proud of the work those artists have achieved with DDCF funds.

At the same time, conversations between DDCF staff and artists have revealed a variety of challenges created by those project-oriented grants. Artists spoke repeatedly about the exhausting project treadmill, creating project after project to make ends meet; about the pressures to premiere work supported by these commissions, even when the work was unfinished or unsatisfying; and about the many needs that such project commissions do not support—including research and development time, study, professional development and basic life needs, including health insurance and retirement benefits.

With these structural realities in mind, DDCF embarked upon an increased focus to empower, invest in and celebrate artists through grants that offer flexible, multi-year funding, and that respond to financial and funding challenges specific to this community.