The 2006 USA Fellows include artists in the fields of music, dance, architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, literature, media, theater and visual arts. Expert panels selected the 50 awardees (including four pairs of collaborators, for a total of 54 recipients) from among 300 applicants representing every artistic discipline and 43 states.
Among the inaugural group of USA Fellows are:
USA's formation was prompted by the Urban Institute's 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 found that the median reported income for artists from their artistic work was only $5,000 and that more than half of America's two million artists pay for their own health insurance.
The Urban Institute report and other studies show that "despite these findings, artists contribute not only to the vibrancy of America's culture, but to 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 the seed funding of the four founding foundations, 100% of future donor contributions will directly support artists.
Arts patrons Agnes Gund of New York, Eli and Edythe Broad of Los Angeles, Target of Minneapolis, the Todd Simon Foundation of Nebraska, and Ella Cisneros of Miami and have already funded and named USA Fellowships for this year and years to come.
The USA Fellowships are envisioned as a program that would ultimately be enabled by donors to operate in perpetuity through income generated by a permanent endowment that USA will establish.
For more information, visit www.unitedstatesartists.org.