NEW YORK – At the 10th anniversary celebration and first-ever awards ceremony for the Doris Duke Artist Awards on Feb. 13, the Doris Duke Foundation announced the newest class of Doris Duke Artists and revealed it is doubling the size of the prize.

Each artist is receiving an award of $550,000, up from the previous sum of $275,000, in recognition of their transformative creative potential and seismic ongoing contributions to the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater at large. 

Kristina Wong

Hosted by Common at New York’s singular Jazz at Lincoln Center, the landmark event not only revealed the identities of the six new recipients but honored — and featured performances by six of — the 129 exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz and theater to have received the Doris Duke Artist Award over the last decade.

The 10th anniversary class of Doris Duke Artists are visionary performing artists and trailblazers in their fields. They are composer and trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, director Charlotte Brathwaite, choreographer and performer Ayodele Casel, composer and vocalist Somi Kakoma, choreographer and performer Rosy Simas, and playwright and performer Kristina Wong (

Wong, who is also an elected representative based in Koreatown Los Angeles, founded Auntie Sewing Squad, a national mutual aid network of volunteers that sewed cloth masks for vulnerable communities during the COVID pandemic. Her role in the Auntie Sewing Squad is the subject of her currently touring “Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord,” a New York Times Critics Pick that premiered off-Broadway at New York Theater Workshop. The show won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

“Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord” is currently being presented through March 12 by East West Players and Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Info:  

“Thank you to the Doris Duke Foundation and my peers for recognizing me with this incredible award that will forever shift the trajectory of my well-being and my work,” Wong said on social media. “Thank you to everyone who has supported my lifelong artist journey to here.”

The Doris Duke Artist Awards program supports up to six performing artists annually, across the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater, with unrestricted individual grants that celebrate their extraordinary and innovative artistry by unleashing their ability to chart their own courses, take creative risks and define what they need, personally and professionally, to thrive and create powerful work.

Now in its 10th year, the awards program was originally launched as a five-year program in 2012 as part of a $50 million special initiative but was made a core part of the foundation’s arts funding strategy in 2018. It was then, and continues to be now, the largest national prize dedicated to individual performing artists. It was also one of the first grant programs to offer a unique matching feature for up to $25,000 of the award to encourage artists to invest in late-career savings given the limited benefits programs available to them.

The upped grant amount from $275,000 to $550,000 per artist reaffirms the foundation’s commitment to investing in individual artists as the lifeblood of the performing arts and too often undervalued contributors to societal well-being and progress. Doris Duke Foundation President and CEO Sam Gill announced the increase to an audience of around 400 luminaries and influential players in the arts and society at the anniversary celebration at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He additionally revealed the news that the foundation has locked in a $30 million commitment to carrying the program forward.     

“When artists thrive, we all thrive,” said Gill. “Tonight we evolve the Doris Duke Artist Award from an award to a platform — a platform to advocate and fight for the future of artists.”

“What a decade of this award has revealed to us is that if you trust extraordinary artists like the ones here tonight and give them the conditions to thrive, they will go beyond the boundaries and expectations that you or anyone else could set for them,” said Maurine Knighton, chief program officer at the Doris Duke Foundation. “They will open doors to worlds previously unimagined and unlock new levels of creativity.” 

The anniversary celebration also featured special performances by six extraordinary artists from the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vijay Iyer, Bebe Miller, Nicole Mitchell, Eiko Otake and Basil Twist. In addition, all new and previous awardees received the first-ever Doris Duke Artist Award statuette, designed by noted sculptor Tarik Currimbhoy. Previous recipients also received a gift of $20,000 each, totaling more than $2.5 million in additional unrestricted grants.

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