United States Artists Awards $50K with No Strings Attached

Date 2006/12/8 8:40:00 | Topic: Elsewhere...

United States Artists Announces Recipients of First 50 USA Fellowships Recognizing Artistic Excellence

Meet United States Artists, they are a new charity commited in helping to provide significant and direct financial support to living artists across all disciplines. In its inaugural year United States Artists has kicked off with one of the most generous grant programs in existence. The USA Fellowship program awarded a total of 54 artists, with four fellowships recognizing artists’ collaboratives. The USA Fellows received an unrestricted grant of $50,000 to support his or her creative work...
USA’s formation was prompted by the Urban Institute’s breakthrough 2003 study, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structures for U.S. Artists. This research found that, while 96% of Americans appreciate the arts, only 27% believe that artists contribute to the good of society. In addition, the study reported the median reported income for artists from their artistic work was only $5,000 and that more than half of America’s 2 million artists pay for their own health insurance. This data and other studies show that, despite these economic challenges, artists in fact contribute directly to advancements in the education of young people, the development of a competitive creative economy, and the revitalization of the nation’s neighborhoods and urban centers.

In response to these findings, The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Prudential Foundation, and the Rasmuson Foundation contributed a total of $20 million to establish USA as a structure through which private philanthropists, corporate donors and other foundations can support individual artists. Due to seed funding from its founders, 100% of future donor contributions will directly support artists in the first five years.

In recent months an additional $2.5 million has been raised to support USA. Target of Minneapolis, Eli and Edythe Broad of Los Angeles, the Todd Simon Foundation of Omaha, Ella Cisneros of Miami, and Agnes Gund of New York have already agreed to underwrite and name USA Fellowships this year and in years to come. The USA Fellowship program is envisioned as a program that would be funded in perpetuity through income generated by a permanent endowment USA will establish.

Expert panels selected the winners from among 300 applicants representing every artistic discipline and 43 states.

The 2006 USA Fellows represent a broad range of artistic practices, with recipients in the fields of architecture & design, crafts & traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts. They come from all career stages, including emerging artists, those at mid-career, as well as individuals who have achieved master status in their fields.

The youngest of the USA Fellows is Sterlin Harjo, a 26 year-old Seminole and Creek filmmaker from Norman, OK whose short films explore contemporary Native American life; the eldest, Ali Akbar Khan, lives and teaches in San Anselmo, CA, and at 83 is one of the most respected classical Indian musicians in the world. USA Fellows include performance-legend Meredith Monk and guitarist Bill Frisell, who are being honored for a body of work that stretches over decades, while others, like puppeteer Basil Twist, assemblage artist Anna Sew Hoy, and cartoonist Chris Ware are important new talents with rising promise.

“USA’s goal is to fuel innovation in our culture by investing in creativity at its source: our
nation’s finest artists,” said Susan V. Berresford, USA board chair and president of the Ford Foundation. “Our 2006 USA Fellows represent the full spectrum of artistic excellence and the
broad array of talent that abounds in all US communities. This is exactly what we hoped to
achieve when we founded this program. It is what USA, with its multidisciplinary scope and
national reach, is designed to recognize.”

Why $50,000? ~ Here's An Interesting Fact:
This amount was chosen to make a statement as to the importance we place on the work of artists in our culture. For perspective, $50,000 is a common entry-level salary for art college faculty in America today. Hopefully, this funding will enable some artists to pursue their art full time.

The 2006 USA Fellows celebrated at a gala in New York City at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Recipients in Theater Arts Include:

Anne Bogart, New York – USA Rockefeller Fellow
Anne Bogart has made her mark as a director for the American Theater, in part for her timely selection of pieces that speak to the many nuances of the human condition. Bogart’s work expertly blends extraordinary physical artistry with amazing production values and vision. Not only does her work impact everyone on the boards, it also creates a crucible for exploration among many gifted designers,companies, producers, and a host of others behind the scenes.

Ping Chong, New York – USA Prudential Fellow
Ping Chong blends a clean, crisp aesthetic with opportunities for deep community engagement,
sharing, and ultimate learning through submersion in the artistic process. The delicate and skillful way in which he weaves a community’s story sets a standard for excellence in heightening an audience’s aesthetic experience. Chong’s unique artistic approach is equally effective in the field of puppetry, where his exquisitely designed puppets are underscored by powerful stories.

Anthony Garcia, Colorado – USA Rockefeller Fellow
Anthony Garcia’s work with El Centro Su Teatro is characterized by a layered approach to community activism and artistic excellence. Born out of the Chicano movement, his artistic voice has alternately provided a lens and a mirror for Colorado’s Mexican and Chicano community, blending humor, music, and storytelling to provide multiple points of entry to a deeper reconsideration of the human condition as affected by current social and political realities.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, California – USA Rockefeller Fellow
Marc Bamuthi Joseph has emerged as one of the leading voices of contemporary performance in the
United States. Joseph blends Haitian and African American histories through dance, music, ritual, and spoken word in subtly layered and powerful performances. Speaking through the lens of hip-hop
aesthetics, his work weaves in each individual form with precision and grace. A teacher, some would say a modern-day griot, Joseph has used his work with YouthSpeaks to build bridges of support for the next generation of twenty-first-century artists.

Meredith Monk, New York – USA Prudential Fellow
Meredith Monk is noted for her breathy contemplation, which blends sound, music, the voice, and movement. Her work serves as a metaphor for the American experience, often bringing heightened emotional depth to a sound without words, allowing the listener to find a unique point of entry into the experience. An inspiration for many artists in the United States and abroad, Monk continues to generate work for performers and audiences that captures the spirit of our time.

Dominique Serrand, Minnesota – USA Ford Fellow
Dominique Serrand has established a strong performance tradition through his work with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, where he continues to inspire artists and audiences alike. His directorial approach is exquisitely fluid and sensual, incorporating a dazzling array of elements, including performance,dance, daring, and overall panache. In addition to creating works for the American theater, he has also developed works for the opera as well as pieces that blend both performance genres.

Basil Twist, New York – USA Ford Fellow
Puppeteer Basil Twist’s work is truly exceptional, whether he is collaborating with other artists or
serving as the lead artist on a project. His artistry is distinctive, elegant, and filled with a captivating and imaginative spirit. Through his work with the training program at HERE Arts Center, Twist is committed to continuing the ongoing development, deepening excellence, and long-term growth of puppetry as a performance form in the United States.

Click Here for A Complete List of USA Fellow Recipients!
Click Here to Visit United States Artists' Site!

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