Doris Duke Artist Awards

The Doris Duke Artist Awards invested in exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre, 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 could demonstrate 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.

Awardees 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.

Eligibility & Selection

Applications were not accepted, instead candidates for a Doris Duke Artist Award were “harvested” from a pool of artists who had won at least three designated national grants, awards, accolades, or fellowships over the past ten years, with at least one having been funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

An anonymous panel of performing arts professionals from around the country reviewed all eligible candidates and determined a class of approximately 20 artists each spring from 2012 to 2016. In total, there have been 101 Doris Duke Artists who, by their selection, were identified as exemplary artists, committed to work in the nonprofit sector, and deeply worthy of investment. Panelists were asked to assess the quality of the artist’s work, the maturity of the artistic voice, the value of a grant at that moment in their careers, and the dedication of the artist to continue to move forward with creativity and curiosity.