The nationwide search for the five Fellows is conducted in three stages, beginning with the naming of 50 nominators, 10 in each of the artistic disciplines represented within the Awards Program. Nominators are chosen for their aesthetic, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity as well as their integrity, and knowledge of contemporary art practices. They are selected by the Director in consultation with the President of CalArts. Nominators recommend two outstanding artists whom they feel meet the spirit of the Award guidelines, and describe the aesthetic content and intention of the work and why they think it is important to support at this time, in terms of its development and relevance.

In each of the five disciplines lie many investigative paths. Choreographers, choreographer/performers and performance artists may be candidates for the Award in Dance, while the Award in Film/Video honors independent media artists working in film, video, multimedia, and installation. In Music, the Award recognizes composers and musician/composers , and the Award in Theatre is given to playwrights, directors, and performance artists. The Award in Visual Arts honors people working in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, book art, crafts, mixed media, installation, performance and conceptual art. Nominators in each discipline may consider all aesthetics and genres and are asked to use as their measure the quality, engagement, independence, and impact of the work.

Shortly after the nominations are submitted, nominees are advised of their candidacy and invited to send work samples and written materials. Applications are reviewed by a panel—Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre, or Visual Arts—each made up of three distinguished artists and arts professionals. The fifteen Awards panelists are selected yearly by the Director in consultation with the President of CalArts. In addition to looking at work samples provided by the artists, which are the prime basis for evaluation, the panelists read artists' statements and biographies and review nominators' descriptions of candidates. In the next Award cycle, the two-day panels will take place in January and February 2009.

Recognizing that the interactive process of art-maker and audience takes many forms, the panelists assess the manner in which the nominees have demonstrated risk-taking and an awareness of the world outside the studio. They do so by evaluating the work, the past and future trajectories indicated by the resume, and the artists' commentaries.

Anonymity and Privacy

To insure that the selection process remains focused on the work, nominators remain anonymous. Nomination narratives are read by panelists, with the nominators’ names deleted. Panelists’ names are made public at the time the Awards are announced. While nominated artists may reveal their candidacy at any point, nominators, panelists and the Awards staff are expected to maintain confidentiality. The information contained in the nominating statements and the applications is read only by panelists, the Awards staff and its immediate advisors.

Terms of the Award

The Award is a prize based upon the recognition of both past performance and future promise. Recipients may use the Award stipend in any manner they deem useful; to realize unproduced or nascent visions, to buy time for investigation, experimentation, focusing and dreaming, to have more ease. Award recipients are required to submit an end-of-year report, to attend the Awards ceremony, and to grant permission to The Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts to use their name, likeness, voice, biography and examples of their work for the purpose of publicizing the Award. Awards recipients are also expected to take part in a week-long residency at CalArts.

An individual may receive the Award only once, and cannot receive it in more than one category. No nominator or member of the Awards panel, and no present employee, officer, director, trustee or relation of the aforementioned categories of The Herb Alpert Foundation or California Institute of the Arts is eligible for an Award while acting in these capacities. Recipient artists need not be U.S. citizens but they must currently maintain their prime residency in the United States, and have a Social Security number.

The Alpert Award in the Arts is subject to California withholding tax unless the recipient (or his/her booking agent) is a resident of the state of California. The awardee is responsible for any Federal and/or State taxes (if a resident of California) for the Award and residency stipend.


Working in conjunction with the Director and a member of the CalArts faculty, each Award recipient is asked to design and take part in a week-long residency at CalArts, in Valencia, California, during the year of their Award. The residency might include a workshop, production or concert, seminar, series of lectures and/or critique of student work. If a Residency cannot be arranged, the amount of the fellowship is reduced by $5,000 to $70,000.

Application Guidelines

Once a nominee decides to apply, he or she receives a password and login to access applications, instructions, and guidelines online. This material will be mailed to other interested parties, for informational purposes, upon written request to the Director.

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