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 2020 recipients, we have awarded 552 grants topping $5 million, all going directly to support Alaska’s artists. That’s 17 Distinguished Artists, now a $40,000 award; 144 Artist Fellowships, currently at $18,000; and 391 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, during the coronavirus pandemic, we paused our plan to again partner with the Anchorage Museum on workshops to support Individual Artist Award recipients as they develop their business side and elevate artist statements. We also concluded an arrangement with 49 Writers, a nonprofit that supports a thriving community of writers and readers. The partnership was developed to produce profiles of artists, from the eyes of Alaska writers. The series began with the 2017 IAA recipients and includes 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.

A pool of 289 artists applied for our 2020 awards. Panels of judges from outside Alaska evaluated works long distance then convened virtually because of COVID-19 to select 10 Fellowship 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 2021 awards, applications will open Dec. 15, 2020.