Among the inaugural group to receive $50,000 grants for artistic excellence are seven theatre artists, including:
Anne Bogart, New York, NYPing Chong, New York, NYAnthony Garcia, Denver, CO
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, San Francisco, CAMeredith Monk, New York, NYDominique Serrand, Minneapolis, MNBasil Twist, New York, NY Fellows include artists in the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media arts, music, theatre arts and visual arts.
United States Artists (USA) is a new organization "dedicated to providing direct support for America's finest living artists." The grants are "an investment in the nation's creativity." In 2006 USA awarded 50 grants to a total of 54 artists, with four grants recognizing artists' collaboratives.
Expert panels selected the awardees from among 300 applicants representing every artistic discipline and 43 states.
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 percent of Americans appreciate the arts, only 27 percent believe that artists contribute to the good of society. In addition, the study reported 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 percent 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 named USA Fellowships this year and in years to come.
The USA Fellowship program is envisioned as a program that would ultimately be endowed by donors to operate in perpetuity through income generated by a permanent endowment that USA will establish.
For more information, visit www.unitedstatesartists.org.
The recipients' work, as characterized by USA, follows.
Anne Bogart, New York – USA Rockefeller Fellow. Anne Bogart has made her mark as a director for the American theatre, in part for her timely selection of pieces that speak to the many nuances of the human condition. Bogart's work expertly blends extraordinary physical artistry with amazing production values and vision. Not only does her work impact everyone on the boards, it also creates a crucible for exploration among many gifted designers, companies, producers, and a host of others behind the scenes.Ping Chong, New York – USA Prudential Fellow. Ping Chong blends a clean, crisp aesthetic with opportunities for deep community engagement, sharing, and ultimate learning through submersion in the artistic process. The delicate and skillful way in which he weaves a community's story sets a standard for excellence in heightening an audience's aesthetic experience. Chong's unique artistic approach is equally effective in the field of puppetry, where his exquisitely designed puppets are underscored by powerful stories.Anthony Garcia, Colorado – USA Rockefeller Fellow. Anthony Garcia's work with El Centro Su Teatro is characterized by a layered approach to community activism and artistic excellence. Born out of the Chicano movement, his artistic voice has alternately provided a lens and a mirror for Colorado's Mexican and Chicano community, blending humor, music, and storytelling to provide multiple points of entry to a deeper reconsideration of the human condition as affected by current social and political realities.Marc Bamuthi Joseph, California – USA Rockefeller Fellow. Marc Bamuthi Joseph has emerged as one of the leading voices of contemporary performance in the United States. Joseph blends Haitian and African American histories through dance, music, ritual, and spoken word in subtly layered and powerful performances. Speaking through the lens of hip-hop aesthetics, his work weaves in each individual form with precision and grace. Joseph has used his work with YouthSpeaks to build bridges of support for the next generation of 21st-century artists.Meredith Monk, New York – USA Prudential Fellow. Meredith Monk is noted for her breathy contemplation, which blends sound, music, the voice, and movement. Her work serves as a metaphor for the American experience, often bringing heightened emotional depth to a sound without words, allowing the listener to find a unique point of entry into the experience. An inspiration for many artists in the United States and abroad, Monk continues to generate work for performers and audiences that captures the spirit of our time.Dominique Serrand, Minnesota – USA Ford Fellow. Dominique Serrand has established a strong performance tradition through his work with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, where he continues to inspire artists and audiences alike. His directorial approach is exquisitely fluid and sensual, incorporating a dazzling array of elements, including performance, dance, daring, and overall panache. In addition to creating works for the American theatre, he has also developed works for the opera as well as pieces that blend both performance genres.Basil Twist, New York – USA Ford Fellow. Puppeteer Basil Twist's work is truly exceptional, whether he is collaborating with other artists or serving as the lead artist on a project. His artistry is distinctive, elegant, and filled with a captivating and imaginative spirit. Through his work with the training program at HERE Arts Center, Twist is committed to continuing the ongoing development, deepening excellence, and long-term growth of puppetry as a performance form in the United States.