Why give awards to individual artists?

What is the best way to support arts and culture in Alaska? In 2003, Rasmuson Foundation surveyed the field of artists and arts organizations to find out. The answer was nearly unanimous: Put money directly in the hands of artists. With those words as inspiration, the Foundation created the Individual Artist Awards (IAA) program.

In times of prosperity and times of uncertainty, art has the power to connect us.

Since 2004 and counting the 2019 recipients, we have awarded 516 grants totaling $4.76 million, all going directly to support Alaska’s artists. That’s 16 Distinguished Artists, now a $40,000 award; 134 Artist Fellowships, currently at $18,000; and 366 Artist Project Awards of $7,500 each. Learn more about Project Awards and Fellowships here.

Benefits beyond the money

We are writing a new chapter. In a 2016 survey, artists told us of needs beyond financial support. They wanted help promoting their work and developing themselves as professional artists. We embrace those areas too.

[For more on how to apply and FAQs, click here.]

In 2020, we are again partnering with the Anchorage Museum on workshops to support Individual Artist Award recipients as they develop their business side and elevate artist statements. In 2019, we started a partnership with 49 Writers, a nonprofit that supports a thriving community of writers and readers. The collaboration is producing profiles of artists, from the eyes of Alaska writers. The series began with the 2017 IAA recipients and this year is expanding to 2018 recipients. Enjoy these insightful stories by clicking here.

Over the past three years, we’ve added features to rasmuson.org to strengthen it as a venue for artists and art lovers. Explore our online gallery of artwork, stories and videos related to Distinguished Artists.

More than 300 artists applied for our 2019 awards. Panels of judges from outside Alaska evaluated works long distance then huddled for three days in Anchorage to select 10 fellows and 25 project award recipients. Selection of the Distinguished Artist is a separate process, explained here.

The awards first given out in 2004 are part of a strategy to support the culture of Alaska, the vibrancy of our communities and art itself.

For 2020 awards, applications closed March 2.