Performing Arts

Doris Duke Artist Awards


The Doris Duke Artist Awards, grants awarded through a sub-initiative of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, invested in exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz, theater and related interdisciplinary work who had proven their artistic vitality and commitment to their field. The Doris Duke Artist Award was not a lifetime achievement award, nor a "genius" grant. The award was a deeper investment in the potential of dedicated artists, empowering them through the freedom of unrestricted support while celebrating past achievement.

Artist recipients were entitled to two kinds of funds: unrestricted/flexible funds, and restricted project funds. Artists received an unrestricted grant of $225,000 over a three- to five-year period, as set through a schedule determined by the recipient. An additional $25,000 of unrestricted funds was made available to artists who demonstrated that they had started or increased resources (whether IRA's, SEP's 401(k)'s, etc.) that would allow them to continue their creative exploration in their later years when other resources were likely to be unpredictable and difficult to obtain. Restricted project funds of up to $25,000 were available to the artist specifically to support work around audience connections or development, bringing the program's potential investment to $275,000 per artist.

Doris Duke Artists had access to Creative Capital's goal assessment tools; financial and legal counseling; and conferences with peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Doris Duke Artists were also able to allocate a portion of their funding to cover costs of professional development services including workshops to help artists expand their skills and practices (from strategic planning to fundraising to promotion); phone-in clinics that offered support for the business areas of artistic practices (legal, financial, tech, PR and business advice); memberships that provided opportunities for crowdfunding and fiscal sponsorship partners, as well as pro-rated fees for insurance or health care.

The first class of Doris Duke Artists was announced in 2012 and comprised 21 of America's most vital and productive performing artists. Doris Duke Artists were selected through a rigorous, anonymous process of peer review. No applications were accepted. Candidates for Doris Duke Artist Awards were instead "harvested" from a pool of artists who had won at least three designated national grants, awards, accolades or fellowships over recent years, with at least one having been funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. A total of 101 artists received $275,000 each, totaling $27.7 million.