about the awards

The Alpert Award in the Arts provides unrestricted annual prizes to five mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts.

Initiated and funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and administered by California Institute of the Arts since 1994, the Alpert Award honors and supports artists respected for their creativity, ingenuity, and bodies of work, at a moment in their lives when they are poised to propel their art in new and unpredictable directions. It recognizes experimenters who are making something that matters within and beyond their field.

The Process

There are three stages in identifying the five annual recipients: nomination of candidates by fifty artists and arts professionals; submission of materials by the invited artists; and the decisions made by five three-person panels. Selected by the Director in consultation with the President of CalArts, nominators and panelists are chosen for their knowledge of contemporary art practices, their integrity and aesthetic, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity.

The ten nominators in each of the five disciplines recommend two outstanding artists whom they feel meet the spirit of the Award, and describe the work, and why they think it is important to support, at both this moment in the artist's development and cultural life. Nominators are asked to use as their measure the quality, engagement, independence, and impact of the work.

The Disciplines

Candidates for the Award in Dance include choreographers, choreographer/performers, and performance artists creating movement-based work. The Award in Film/Video honors independent media artists working in film, video, multimedia, new technologies, and installation. In Music, the Award recognizes composers and musician/composers, while the Award in Theatre is given to playwrights, auteur directors, and performance artists creating text-based work. The Award in Visual Arts honors people working in painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, book art, crafts, mixed media, installation, performance and conceptual art.

Advised of their candidacy, artists are invited to apply and asked to send work samples and written responses to several questions. Each panel - Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts - selects one artist for the Award, and then chooses the recipients of the Alpert colony prizes.

To insure that recommendations and decisions remain focused on the work, nominators remain anonymous. Panelists' names are made public at the time the Awards are announced. While nominees may cite their candidacy, their names remain confidential.

Terms of the Award

The Award is a prize based upon 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.

An individual may receive the Award once, and in one category. Nominators, panelists and employees, officers, directors, trustees or relations of the aforementioned categories of The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts are ineligible for the Award while acting in these capacities. Recipient artists maintain their prime residency in the United States, and have a social security number; they need not be U.S. citizens.

Alpert Award Residencies

In conjunction with the Director, and a member of the CalArts faculty, each Alpert 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. Residencies may include workshops, productions or concerts, seminars, lectures as well as individual critiques of student work.

Alpert nominees, in the fields of Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts, are also selected for month-long stays at distinguished artists colonies that include, and have included, Hedgebrook, the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Sacatar, and the Ucross Foundation Residency Program. This year, for the first time, we begin our collaboration with Yaddo. Artists chosen for residency prizes are given a stipend by the Alpert Awards program.

Irene Borger, Director
Frannie Garretson, Program Assistant