In a virtual press event held on Thursday, September 17, at 11 am ET, the recipients of the 2020 Doris Duke Artist Awards were revealed in the fields of contemporary dance, jazz, and theater. Although the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) initially conceived the awards as part of a larger ten-year $50 million special initiative that ended in 2017, recognition of their importance resulted in the foundation maintaining a place for them in its core strategy and in its mission to improve the quality of people’s lives, in part through funding to support the arts and culture.
The Doris Duke Artist Awards, named for the philanthropic tobacco heiress (1912-93) and endowed by her estimated $1.3 billion estate, invest in exemplary individual artists who have demonstrated their artistic vitality and commitment to their fields in contemporary dance, jazz, theater, and related interdisciplinary work. Unlike a lifetime achievement award, it is a major investment in the potential of dedicated performing artists, empowering them through the freedom of unrestricted support to take creative risks, to explore new ideas, and to pay for important professional and personal needs not typically funded by project-related grants.
This year’s awards, hosted by Maurine Knighton, Program Director for the Arts, and Ed Henry, President and CEO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, recognized eight artists, comprising four in the category of dance, two in jazz, and two in theater. The recipients are:
Dance – Ana María Alvarez (Choreographer, Los Angeles); Sean Dorsey (Choreographer, San Francisco); Rennie Harris (Choreographer, Philadelphia); Pam Tanowitz (Choreographer, NYC);
Jazz – Andrew Cyrille (Musician and Composer, Montclair, NJ); Cécile McLorin Salvant (Composer, Vocalist, and Visual Artist, NYC);
Theater – Michael John Garcés (Director, Los Angeles); Dael Orlandersmith (Playwright, NYC).
All awardees are presented with a cash prize of $275,000, in recognition of their extraordinary artistry and as an investment in their well-being – a need made even more urgent by the events of this year. A total of $250,000 of the prize is completely unrestricted, and $25,000 is dedicated to encouraging retirement savings.
Congratulations to all of the artists for being honored by these significant awards, and thanks to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for its ongoing support of the performing arts.