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.

Counting the 2022 awards, the program now has made a total of 626 grants to individual Alaska artists: 441 Project Awards, 164 Fellowships, 19 Distinguished Artist awards and two President’s Awards, all told nearly $6 million for Alaska artists.

To mark the 20th year of Individual Artist Awards, we have increased the grant amounts for the first time since 2012. The Distinguished Artist Award is now $50,000, Project Awards are $10,000 and Fellowships are $25,000. 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.

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.

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.