Kristina Wong Wins $550K Prize
Last night, at the tenth anniversary celebration and first-ever awards ceremony for the Doris Duke Artist Awards, the Doris Duke Foundation announced the newest class of Doris Duke Artists and revealed it is doubling the size of the prize. From yesterday forward, each artist is receiving an award of $550,000, up from the previous sum of $275,000, in recognition of their transformative creative potential and seismic ongoing contributions to the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater at large. Hosted by Common at New York’s singular Jazz at Lincoln Center, the landmark event not only revealed the identities of the six new recipients but honored—and featured performances by six of—the 129 exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz and theater to have received the Doris Duke Artist Award over the last decade.
The 10th anniversary class of Doris Duke Artists are visionary performing artists and trailblazers in their fields. The awardees include composer and trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, director Charlotte Brathwaite, choreographer and performer Ayodele Casel, composer and vocalist Somi Kakoma, choreographer and performer Rosy Simas, and playwright and performer Kristina Wong.
Kristina Wong Wins for Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord
Wong, a comedian, writer, and performer, is best known for the one-woman play Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The play also won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance. Wong is the founder of the Auntie Sewing Squad, a national mutual aid network of volunteers who sewed cloth masks for vulnerable communities at the onset of the COVID pandemic; their work was the impetus for Sweatshop Overlord. Wong is currently the artist in residence at the Arizona State University Gammage theatre program, and is the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Social Practice Resident. Wong is currently working on her next project, #FoodBankInfluencer.
The Doris Duke Artist Awards program supports up to six performing artists annually, across the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater, with unrestricted individual grants that celebrate their extraordinary and innovative artistry by unleashing their ability to chart their own courses, take creative risks and define what they need, personally and professionally, to thrive and create powerful work.
Now in its tenth year, the awards program was originally launched as a five-year program in 2012 as part of a $50 million special initiative but was made a core part of the foundation’s arts funding strategy in 2018. It was then, and continues to be now, the largest national prize dedicated to individual performing artists. It was also one of the first grant programs to offer a unique matching feature for up to $25,000 of the award to encourage artists to invest in late-career savings given the limited benefits programs available to them.
The upped grant amount from $275,000 to $550,000 per artist reaffirms the Doris Duke Foundation’s commitment to investing in individual artists as the lifeblood of the performing arts and too often undervalued contributors to societal well-being and progress. Doris Duke Foundation President and CEO Sam Gill announced the increase to an audience of around 400 luminaries and influential players in the arts and society at the anniversary celebration at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He additionally revealed the news that the foundation has locked in a $30 million commitment to carrying the program forward.
“When artists thrive, we all thrive,” said Gill in his remarks at Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Tonight we evolve the Doris Duke Artist Award from an award to a platform—a platform to advocate and fight for the future of artists.”
“What a decade of this award has revealed to us is that if you trust extraordinary artists like the ones here tonight and give them the conditions to thrive, they will go beyond the boundaries and expectations that you or anyone else could set for them,” said Maurine Knighton, chief program officer at the Doris Duke Foundation. “They will open doors to worlds previously unimagined and unlock new levels of creativity.”
The anniversary celebration also featured special performances by six extraordinary artists from the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists, including Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vijay Iyer, Bebe Miller, Nicole Mitchell, Eiko Otake and Basil Twist. In addition, all new and previous awardees received the first-ever Doris Duke Artist Award statuette, designed by noted sculptor Tarik Currimbhoy. Previous recipients also received a gift of $20,000 each, totaling more than $2.5 million in additional unrestricted grants.
To learn more about the Doris Duke Artist Awards and the six new Doris Duke Artists, please visit: www.dorisdukeartistawards.org.
About the Doris Duke Artist Awards
The Doris Duke Foundation believes that the most effective illustration of the power of the performing arts to positively impact our society is found in the vital work of artists themselves.
Established in 2012, the Doris Duke Artist Award is the largest national prize dedicated exclusively to individual performing artists. Each year, the Doris Duke Artist Awards support select performing artists across the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater with unrestricted individual grants. The goal of the award is to propel leading performing artists and to demonstrate the creative possibilities that emerge when artists themselves are able to define—and provide for—what they need to thrive.
Since inception, 129 Doris Duke Artists have received a total of $35.5 million in Doris Duke Artist Awards, each receiving individual grants of up to $275,000. The Doris Duke Foundation seeks to inspire arts philanthropy to rethink the prevalent project funding model by providing artists with flexible support that allows them to take creative risks that are only possible when all needs are met. Doris Duke Artists may use funds on anything: work space, travel, study, a new home, health care, exploring new collaborations or retirement savings. The foundation believes that investing in the artist as a whole person has the power to unlock new levels of creativity and to amplify performing artists’ contributions to the world. To learn more about the program, visit www.dorisdukeartistawards.org.
About the Doris Duke Foundation
The Doris Duke Foundation (DDF) supports the well-being of people and the planet for a more creative, equitable and sustainable future. The foundation operates five national grantmaking programs—in the performing arts, the environment, medical research, child and family well-being, and mutual understanding between communities—as well as Duke Farms and Shangri La, two centers that serve the public directly. The Doris Duke Foundation is one of only two foundations in history to have received the National Medal of the Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, presented by President Barack Obama, in special recognition of DDF’s support of creative expression across the United States and bold commitment to artistic risk, helping artists, musicians, dancers and actors share their talents and enriched the cultural life of the nation. To learn more, visit www.dorisduke.org.
Kristina Wong Wins