How Is The Annenberg Fellowship Helping Emerging Artists?

More than anyone, I hate nostalgia. But is it me, or is it a particularly difficult time to be a young artist nowadays? I read Bob Dylan's Chronicles, about a time way back when you could live in Greenwich Village on ten dollars a day. Now that won't even get you a pastrami sandwich at the world-famous Katz's Delicatessen.

And I'm not finished. We can't forget escalating college costs. Attending Yale, for example, for 2014-2015 costs $63,250, which includes tuition and room and board. The price tag for the Juilliard School, meanwhile, is a cool $55,920 (double room) or $59,470 (single room).

Fortunately, my frustration abated somewhat upon reading news that yet another charitable foundation has stepped up to help young artists avoid a lifetime of imprisonment to debt. That would be the Leonore Annenberg Foundation and its Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts, which awards $50,000 a year for up to two years to artists who have "demonstrated great talent and are on the cusp of a professional breakthrough."

Arts fellowships totaling $300,000 were awarded to soprano Julia Bullock; pianist Sean Chen; visual artist Caitlin Cherry; actor, writer and filmmaker McKenzie Chinn; and American Ballet Theatre soloist Joseph Gorak.

Including the current group, the fund has paid or pledged more than $5 million over the last eight years in career development grants to artists to create work, receive training, travel to performances, develop studios, buy materials, pay for living expenses and health care, pay down student debt, or otherwise "develop their talents to their fullest."

Speaking of student debt, you may be curious why I chose Yale and Juilliard in my scintillating introduction. It's because the fellows are selected in consultation with partner organizations that include the Yale School of Drama, the Juilliard School, and American Ballet Theatre, proving once again that if you can't lower your tuition, then getting a grant may be the next best thing.

The five winners will also work under the guidance of mentors chosen by the partners and the Leonore Annenberg Fund.

All in all, the fund represents a comforting example of the foundation working to support emerging artists, a sentiment echoed by Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of the program, who noted, "At a time when institutional funding in the fine arts has been under serious pressure, the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund has provided millions of dollars to artists who have shown great promise."

Nonetheless, I still think the cost of college tuition is outrageous. So if you'll excuse me, I have to go yell at some neighborhood kids to get off my lawn.