Ranee Ramaswamy receives 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award

April 22, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced today the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. Both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special, ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, multi-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. Since commencing in April 2012, the program has awarded a total of $18.1 million to artists in the fields of jazz, dance and theatre.


Ranee Ramaswamy founded Ragamala Dance in 1993, and currently serves as co-artistic director with her daughter, Aparna Ramaswamy. A master teacher, performer, and choreographer of the South Indian classical form of Bharatanatyam, she has tirelessly worked for the last three decades to find a place for the form in the landscape of American dance. Since her first cross-cultural collaboration with poet

Robert Bly, Ranee's work has merged the classical language of Bharatanatyam with a contemporary Western aesthetic to create timeless pieces that freely move between the past and the present. Her many awards and honors include 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships, a USA Fellowship (2012), a McKnight Distinguished Artist Award (2011), and multiple MAP Fund and NEFA National Dance Project grants. She currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Song of the Jasmine-a new work by Ragamala in collaboration with jazz saxophonist and fellow Doris Duke Artist Rudresh Mahanthappa-will premiere at the Walker Art Center in May 2014. 


Ben Cameron, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said, "One of the great joys for us at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is the annual announcement of Doris Duke Artist Award grantees. This year's roster is an extraordinary group, representing a wide range of artistic styles, ages, communities and experiences. We're honored to recognize their singular achievements and their continuing influence on their respective fields, and to offer them this extraordinary commitment of time and money. Furthermore, we are especially happy to announce the first ever class of Doris Duke Impact Award grantees-artists chosen from a larger pool of nominations submitted by previous Doris Duke Artist Award recipients. These Impact Awards make a strong statement about the power these artists will have in shaping the fields of dance, theatre and jazz, and represent a new way for us to expand our reach to embrace artists we may not have supported in the past."

David Henry Hwang, a recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, said, "Though my first play premiered in New York almost 35 years ago, the commitment to continue creating new, original work grows, if anything, more challenging in middle age, particularly with kids heading off to college. My deepest gratitude to the Doris Duke Artist Awards for understanding and addressing the unique demands of a long-term artistic career. When I learned the amazing news that I was a 2014 recipient, I thought, 'Fantastic! Now I can afford to keep writing plays!'" 

Ambrose Akinmusire, a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award, said, "I was shocked and grateful to be recognized by my peers for my work, which is so personal to me. There is a lot of pressure to be commercial and not to take risks. This award will allow me to take more risks in my work, and to embark on collaborations that I've long wanted to do with other artists but that wouldn't otherwise be financially possible for me."

About the Doris Duke Artist Awards
Each recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Award receives $275,000-including an unrestricted, multi-year cash grant of $225,000, plus as much as $25,000 more in targeted support for audience development and as much as $25,000 more for personal reserves or creative exploration during what are usually retirement years for most Americans. Artists will be able to access their awards over a period of three to five years under a schedule set by each recipient. Creative Capital, DDCF's primary partner in the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, will also offer the awardees the opportunity to participate in professional development activities, financial and legal counseling, and regional gatherings-all designed to help them personalize and maximize the use of their grants

Ruby Lerner, founding president and executive director of Creative Capital, said, "We're so excited to welcome these exceptional artists to both the Duke and Creative Capital communities. It will be a privilege for us to share the tools and resources we've developed over the past 15 years with this stellar group of artists." 

To qualify for consideration by the review panels, all the Doris Duke Artists must have won grants, prizes or awards on a national level for at least three different projects over the past ten years, with at least one project having received support from a DDCF-funded program. The panel chose the artists based on demonstrated evidence of exceptional creativity, ongoing self-challenge and the continuing potential to make significant contributions to the fields of jazz, contemporary dance and theatre in the future. By the end of the initiative, 100 artists will have been named Doris Duke Artists.

About the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is granting these awards as part of a larger $50 million, ten-year commitment beyond its already existing funding for the performing arts. The first 21 Doris Duke Artists were announced in April 2012, and to date, 80 artists have been awarded $18,375,000.

By the end of the ten years, the foundation will have offered a total of at least 200 artists greatly expanded freedom to create, through an initiative that makes available the largest allocation of unrestricted cash grants ever given to individuals in contemporary dance, jazz, and theatre. Provided to honorees through a rigorous, anonymous process of peer review-no applications are accepted-the grants are not tied to any specific project but are made as investments in the artistsʼ personal and professional development and future work.

The Doris Duke Artist Awards and the Doris Duke Impact Awards will be announced in classes of approximately twenty between 2012 and 2016, and 2014 and 2018, respectively. More information about the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards is available at www.ddpaa.org.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of peopleʼs lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Dukeʼs properties. The Arts Program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

About Creative Capital
Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel and career development services. Our pioneering approach-inspired by venture-capital principles- helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices. Since 1999, Creative Capital has committed $30 million in financial and advisory support to 419 projects representing 529 artists, and our Professional Development Program has reached 7,000 artists in more than 300 communities. For more information, visit www.creative-capital.org.

Press Contact:
Kristin Roth-Schrefer Communications Officer
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation