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 2018 recipients, we have awarded 480 grants totaling $4.35 million, all going directly to support Alaska’s artists. That’s 15 Distinguished Artists, now a $40,000 award; 124 Artist Fellowships, currently at $18,000; and 341 Artist Project Awards of $7,500 each.

We now 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.}

This year, we are partnering with the Anchorage Museum on workshops to support Individual Artist Award recipients as they develop their business side and elevate artist statements. Also new in 2019 are profiles of artists, from the eyes of Alaska writers. This collaboration with 49 Writers, a nonprofit that supports a thriving community of writers and readers, begins with the 2017 IAA recipients and will expand to later years. Check back soon for that new web feature — and wonderful stories.

Over the past two 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.

Almost 400 artists applied for our 2018 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.

This year’s IAA recipients will be named in May. Applications opened Jan. 15 and close March 1.