An Artist’s “Genius Grant” Program from the Doris Duke Foundation

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October 22, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | On occasion, music and theater artists receive a so-called “genius grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Now, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced its own genius grant program.

Not quite as lucrative as the $500,000 MacArthur Fellows Program, the Duke Foundation has pledged $50 million over 10 years for its Performing Artists Initiative. Within that program, $27.5 million will go as $275,000 grants to 100 “leading artists,” and $8 million will be divided among 100 emerging artists.

The MacArthur grants come without strings, but the Duke grants have some restrictions. $225,000 of the $275,000 grant can be used however the recipient chooses, but $25,000 must be used for the recipient’s involvement in arts education, and another $25,000 is slated for the grantee’s retirement (but only if it is matched by the artist’s own money, which can be taken from the $225,000 unrestricted money bucket). Similarly, the $80,000 grant for emerging artists is divided between $60,000 in unrestricted money, $10,000 for audience development, and $10,000 for retirement—the latter, again, requiring a dollar-for-dollar match.

Do NPQ Newswire readers have nominees for the Doris Duke Foundation? Let’s hope the Foundation picks a good mix of recipients—the artists who should be recognized for their longstanding roles in building the arts in America and those who push the boundaries of art and theater and tell us where the arts are heading.—Rick Cohen

  • Lori

    As I understand the press release, nominations for these grants are not going to be accepted. Recipients will be selected by Duke, and must have already received national recognition including one project having been funded by Duke in the past. Personally, I think this is an unfortunate choice by the foundation, as it really limits the pool of eligible artists.

  • kenneth loch

    How about a “renaissance genius grant” program for the 21st century. I could use a couple of bucks to reform the educational system into the Interdisciplinary perspective.