|Photo by Aubrey Reuben|
Cromer, 45, also directed acclaimed Chicago-area productions of Picnic and A Streetcar Named Desire. In New York City, he staged the Australian play When the Rain Stops Falling for Lincoln Center Theater, and the short-lived 2009 Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Cromer has been announced to direct a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth starring Nicole Kidman, a Broadway revival of Picnic, and a Broadway production of the new musical Yank!, about gay servicemen in World War II.
The MacArthur grant is a "no strings attached" award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $500,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.
The MacArthur Fellows Program (the official name of the awards; "genius" has been applied to it by outsiders) awards unrestricted fellowships "to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction," according to the organization. "There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work."
Cromer attended Columbia College, Chicago. He has directed and acted in plays presented at venues throughout the U.S., including the Barrow Street Theatre (New York), Alley Theatre (Houston), Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago), and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among many others.
The Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship in any way they wish.
"Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential," according to the Foundation. "Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society."
Each year, the MacArthur Fellows Program invites new nominators on the basis of their expertise, accomplishments, and breadth of experience. They are "encouraged to nominate the most creative people they know within their field and beyond." Nominators are chosen from as broad a range of fields and areas of interest as possible. At any given time, there are usually more than 100 active nominators.
Nominations are evaluated by an independent Selection Committee composed of about a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities. "After a thorough, multi-step review, the Selection Committee makes its recommendations to the President and board of directors of the MacArthur Foundation."
Announcement of the annual list is usually made in September. While there are no quotas or limits, typically 20 to 30 Fellows are selected each year. Between June of 1981 and September of 2010, 828 Fellows have been named.
Nominators, evaluators, and selectors all serve anonymously and their correspondence is kept confidential. This policy enables participants to provide their honest impressions independent of outside influence.
The Fellows Program does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations.
There are no restrictions on becoming a Fellow, except that nominees must be either residents or citizens of the United States.