Harvesting Artists: The Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards

Once the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (See Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Dance) announced its plan to award $50 million in grants over 10 years to individual artists as part of The Duke Performing Artist Awards program, many artists are wondering how they can receive the benefit of the late Ms. Duke's bequest.

To answer that question, first, you have to be a legal citizen or resident of the United States. Next, you must be a performing artist. Third, you have to be good — really, really good — at what you do. We're talking good enough to have won at least three designated national grants, awards, accolades or fellowships within the past ten years. Oh, and at least one of those must have been funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Finally, if you are a current recipient of unrestricted funding from any grantmaking organization in the nation for an amount of $50,000 or more, you are not eligible for nomination during the years you are receiving those funds. Once you are no longer receiving those grants, you become eligible for nomination.  

Once you clear those hurdles, the foundation must choose you — what they refer to as artist "harvesting." (Read IP's profiles on DDCF program director Ben Cameron and senior program officer Cheryl Ikemiya).

When you're vying for a multi-year $250,000 unrestricted grant plus an additional $50,000 to help you with your retirement plan and develop and grow your audience, you want to be the sweetest fruit in the bushel to be chosen at harvest time — applications are not accepted.

In the spring, an anonymous panel consisting of performing artists from around the nation chooses 20 eligible artists from the US. Though the foundation does not necessarily divulge the size of the artist pool before it is whittled down to 20, it's safe to assume that the panelists nominate artists throughout the year. Once those nominations are complete, the panel then deliberates, debates, and discusses which artists are to be the lucky 20. In the case of the program's first recipients, the lucky 21.

Over the course of the program, the Doris Duke Foundation will grant the Performing Artists Award to approximately 200 individual artists. This is in addition to the estimated $1 billion in performing arts grants the foundation has awarded since 1997.