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For the past 28 years, the Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts have awarded $75,000 prizes to five artists in the fields of Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Theater and Film/Video. Twenty 22 is now the third year that the honor has gone to 10 artists, two in each category, in recognition of the burden the pandemic has placed on artists. Today, May 4, 2022, the winners of this year’s Herb Alpert Award in the Arts are to be officially announced. Afropop’s Banning Eyre spoke with Herb Alpert in advance to get his thoughts on the award, the winners and what it all means in today’s America.

Banning Eyre: How are you this morning?

Herb Alpert: Well, I'm O.K. Given what's going on in the world, it's hard to be wonderful. It's hard to be devoid of what's happening.

Hard times for the world, indeed. But you're certainly doing your part to make things better. This is a fascinating collection of artists that you are awarding this year. A few things jump out to me. A lot of these artists are very much on the cutting edge, the avant-garde end of their disciplines. These folks are definitely pushing the envelope, definitely not in mainstream pop culture. Also a lot of them seem politically and socially engaged, addressing the problems of the country in the world with their art. And there's a very large representation of African-Americans, which is good to see. I'm curious about the process, and what you might have to say about this year's honorees in the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

Well, you hit the nail on the head. I do like the road less traveled. I like artists who are doing their own thing, not to make a lot of money or to be famous, but to explore their own creative passion. I love that. Those are the artists who really have something magical to say. And as my friend Sir Ken Robinson said, “Creativity is as important as literacy in terms of what it brings to our society." Our country revolves around the artists. We are the heart and soul of what's happening in this country and world. And I don't just mean music. I mean painters, sculptors, actors, poets. They all bring that little special magic to it that we need more than ever at this particular time. And I'm happy to be able to support that.

I'm not involved in the process of picking the winners. I try to stay totally removed from that whole process. We have a lot of great people who do the picking and due diligence. And I'm proud of all the nominees and winners. This has been going on for the last 28 years. But for the past three years, we have doubled the amount of artists. It was conceived as five winners each year in various disciplines, but we doubled it because of the virus and what's happening with our society. You know that one of the first thing that seems to be eliminated in budgets is the arts programs in schools.

So true.

In this crazy world, I feel like you need to kind of stick in your own lane, and my lane is trying to help support artists who need a little encouragement. I had this amazing opportunity when I was eight years old in my grammar school and I picked up a trumpet that was on a table filled with various instruments. I happened to pick up the trumpet. Couldn't make a sound out of it. I thought he just blew hot air into it. But I finally did and I took some lessons, and all of a sudden I started playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I started to have fun. This instrument has changed my life.

The most important lesson I learned through the years, especially when I ran into a little snag playing the horn. Around 1969, ’70 I was going through a divorce, and suddenly I couldn't play the instrument. Well, I could play it, but I was stuttering. I think I told you about my friend Carmine Caruso, the troubleshooter. He helped brass instrument players from all over the world, and the amazing part is he never even played the trumpet. He played saxophone and violin. But he had the art of teaching. He believed each person is an individual and needs to be taught as an individual. He's the one who told me, "You are the instrument. The trumpet is just a megaphone. You are the sound. It comes from the inside.”

So that's what we always look for, people who do art from the inside out. It's not about following all the rules in this that or the other discipline. If you're not passionate about doing it, don't even attempt it, because while you're sleeping, other people are practicing.

So you don't pick the artists who went, but you pick the pickers, right?

Well, the jury is selected by Irene Borger and a group of people that I've worked with through the years. I'm not involved at all.

O.K., but do you give them any kind of guidance as to what they should be looking for?

The guidance that I give them is when I sign the check. I like to give them some space to create and do what they have to do. That keeps them going.

I imagine that panelists have a sense of the history of the award. It has gained a certain character over the years, wouldn’t you say? Taking the road less traveled. Playing from the inside out. The ideas you have mentioned create a certain atmosphere after 28 years.

Absolutely. We've got a great reputation out there. But that's not the reason I'm doing it. I wanted to give back. I have been blessed beyond my dreams, so instead of buying a Van Gogh or a Monet and hanging it on my wall for my own gratification, I thought I'd do something that would help others. I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to do that.

This year’s artists have some very interesting stories. For example, the filmmaker Bani Khoshnoudi has made a film about a site where Chinese immigrants died in the California desert. This would be in the aftermath of building the coast-to-coast rail road. It’s a fascinating bit of a hidden history, and it's a sign that these artists are taking on difficult subjects and putting a critical eye on America as it is today.

Well, the organization tries to pick people who are not only self-serving but looking to help others as well.

Virginia Grise, winner of one of the theater awards, worked with that wonderful Los Angeles-based band Quetzal. In a way you could call that band children of the Tijuana Brass, because they create an American reflection on Mexican culture. But Grice writes “plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms.” That struck me as an interesting group of settings. I imagine that, since you're not involved in selecting the winners, a lot of these artists are probably discoveries for you as well. Is that right?

Absolutely. I'm usually happily surprised. They all get woven into a fabric of artists who deserve a little bit of encouragement to know that they're doing something special, and have a chance to continue on. So it's always interesting to see who's been chosen, and I am involved on that level. But you know, I am doing 52 concerts a year with my wife Lani.

Are you back in action now?

Well, we've had to postpone so many trips. We would've been in Canada at this moment. We had to postpone that. So we start again in June and were booked through 2023. I was looking forward to an engagement to play in London at Ronnie Scott's famous jazz club. I've been wanting to do that for the past couple of years, and now it's going to be in 2023 in June. But that show has already been sold out for a week. That’s going to be a great moment for me.

Amazing. Sold out over a year in advance.

Meanwhile, we've been in our home, trying to stay alive. My wife [singer Lani Hall] is from the school of "is it worth it? Is it worth the risk?" Well, Lani, nothing’s worth the risk. A plane could land on our house right now. Is that worth the risk? So she's very cautious. She doesn't want anything to happen to us. So we’re taking our time.

Well, we will look for you in New York. Let me ask you about one of the visual artists you're awarding this year, Guadalupe Maravilla. He's working with this concept of sounds and tones as healing forces. It's an interesting choice for a visual artist.

I totally believe in that. Music is healing. I think the music that I try to make is healing for me, and luckily it's been healing for a lot of other people. I get an enormous amount of letters and communications from people who've gotten a lot of pleasure out of my music. That's healing. Sculptures are healing. I think the idea is to get to a place in your life where you don't analyze art. You just accept it on that level. Music is not something you just get with your ears. You get it with your soul. It comes inside. And if you can feel it from that point of view, whether it's music, sculpture, painting... You might stand in front of a beautiful painting and ask yourself, "What the hell is this guy up to?" but if you do that, you'll never get it.

The example I like to use is Jackson Pollock. The first time you see a Jackson Pollock, you might ask yourself a question like that. "Holy moly, what is this guy up to?" You might think, “I can do that.” But then you’re trying to analyze what he's up to, or listen to the reviewers, because they have absolutely no idea what the guy was really doing.

Pity those reviewers. They've got a tough job.

Well, if you just stand back and take it in, then you'll receive the message.

So art is healing, and then you connect that with how so many school programs have been cut across the country, it tells you something. We saw a wonderful youth orchestra in Miami last week. They were great, and they were totally funded through organizations outside of the school system. People are stepping in to try to make up for the fact that these programs have been cancelled. This orchestra was using the Venezuelan method, El Sistema, and boy was it working. They had a big enthusiastic crowd packed into the North Miami Beach Bandshell. Truly inspiring. But then you think about kids in more remote places where they might not have those resources. They're really being robbed of something important.

Right. Our priorities are off kilter. It's such an important ingredient. This whole country, our whole world is created by innovation, by human beings that innovated, making things different. Otherwise we would still be in the caves. So we have to be able to honor the artists. I don't think our politicians get it. They look at bottom lines. When you figure everything out in terms of dollars and cents, you lose your perspective.

We’re a long way from Jimmy Carter, Rock & Roll President. When I look at the winners of your award this year, it's hard to miss the common thread of social activism. Some people think art should be totally free of causes. Others think causes are the only reason to make art. These artists seem to be working in between those extremes but very much with a sense of purpose. Any thoughts about the arts and social activism in general?

I like the variety. I don't think it comes in one direction. Ideas come in lots of different directions. And that's beautiful, the way it should be. I just like artists who are involved, trying to do something that elevates the human spirit.

So you will be doing a virtual ceremony, by invitation, on May 4, and announcing the winners to the world.

I'm looking forward to it. It's a Zoom event. Some of the artists will perform and do something to illustrate their artistry. But mostly it's just a celebration, a thank you from me to them. My wife and I will say a few words. As I've told you, I am a card-carrying introvert. I always worry that when I say these things, I'm talking to the choir. I want to talk to the people who don't want to be in the choir. I want to talk to people who might just say, "That's a pretty good idea. I like that." Those are the people I try to get to. So I'm always reluctant to do interviews where I'm just talking to people who are already tuned in.

I relate to that. That's our lifelong mission of Afropop, to reach the people who've never heard or never thought about any of the stuff we cover. It's a constant challenge.

It's a huge challenge. And that's the one I'm interested in. I do appreciate this interview and your probing, but I'm not a salesman.

Well, you do a good job anyway. I imagine that people who see this on our site will be introduced to artists they had no idea about. There are so many niches out there. Each of these artists is living in their own ecosystem. But you’re trying to break out of those ecosystems and expose more people to what's happening in other areas of the arts. That’s cool.

When I first started this in the early ’80s, I thought, “O.K., I've been blessed beyond my means. I'm going to do what I can to help others, and maybe when I do that I can encourage other people who have a little extra change to do the same." That was my pursuit. I don't know if I've been successful, but that's what I'd like to see happen. Because there are so many people who are on their yachts, or driving their million-dollar cars. To me, that's just not the way.

We seem to be reverting back to the Gilded Age, 100 years ago. But then as now, artists need patrons. and I'll bet you have inspired others to give. I picture some of those guys sitting on their yachts and thinking, "What next?"

I don't know if they are. Well, maybe now that they're smoking a little weed they might come to that.

That could open things up a bit. [Laughter]. Well, it’s lovely to speak with you again. Greetings from Georges Collinet, and congratulations on another year of doing this great work.

My pleasure, man. Always nice being with you.

Best to Lani, and good luck getting back on the road.

Love it. Be safe.

“The ten artists we celebrate this year are explorers, unafraid of the unknown.”
-Herb Alpert

May 4, 2022 will mark the 28th annual celebration of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (HAAIA) and as in 2021, doubling of awardees, from five to ten risk-taking, mid-career artists – experimenters - who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. Fifteen highly regarded leaders in the arts made up the panels reviewing the candidates and selecting two award recipients in each of five disciplines: dance, film/video, music, theatre and visual arts.

The 2022 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts winners

DANCE: Yanira Castro, nia love

FILM/VIDEO: Bani Khoshnoudi, Terence Nance

MUSIC: Tomeka Reid, Cory Smythe

THEATRE: Aleshea Harris, Virginia Grise

VISUAL ARTS: Guadalupe Maravilla, Martine Syms

The awards were founded and conceived by legendary musician, philanthropist and artist Herb Alpert, and his Grammy-winning vocalist wife, Lani Hall. Now in its 28th year, the HAAIA has to date been awarded to 140 artists. Each awardee receives a $75,000 unrestricted prize and residency at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) which administers the prize on behalf of the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall created the Herb Alpert Foundation in 1985 and over thirty years and more than $200 million dollars later, Herb Alpert remains one of America’s most important and loyal advocates for the arts and arts education.

Among the 140 past HAAIA winners are noted artists: Carrie Mae Weems, Taylor Mac, Suzan-Lori Parks, Julia Wolfe, Michelle Dorrance, Tania Bruguera, Kerry James Marshall, Lisa Kron, Sharon Lockhart, Ralph Lemon, Arthur Jafa, Cai Guo-Qiang, Okwui Okpokwasili and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah to name a few.

Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation describes what drives the Alperts tireless commitment to the arts. "Support to artists, whose voices are the heart and soul of our democracy, has always been important to Herb and Lani. It led them to start the Herb Alpert Award 28 years ago. And now, as art makers and performing artists return fully to their creative lives, the Herb Alpert Foundation is delighted to champion ten of them.”

Ravi Rajan, president of CalArts, which administers the award, adds, “The generosity of Herb and Lani is legendary, and their work supporting artists to take risks, through The Alpert Awards, has propelled artmaking in this country for decades, " said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. "The list of past honorees is testament to how the award gives artists the space and time to create work that transforms the world.”

Irene Borger, Director of HAAIA since its inception, reflects on this year’s Award: “All ten artists, each with their singular voice, share a number of factors: they work across genres; they view audiences as participants; they provocatively connect the past to the present to imagine a new future.”

The following summaries highlight why the 2022 panelists chose these ten extraordinary artists:


The Dance Panel has selected choreographer, director, and educator nia love for her resilience, commitment and determination to make performances that tell urgent stories of human capacity, her innovative ways of moving, and an artistic practice that is looking back to imagine forward.

The Dance Panel has selected interdisciplinary artist and choreographer
Yanira Castro for her abundant intelligence imbued with humanity, commitment to progressive values, fierce advocacy for others and redefining the function of what an audience member brings to a performance.

Roya Amirsoleymani - artistic director & curator of public engagement, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
Thomas F. DeFrantz - performer, professor of theatre and performance studies, Northwestern University, Chicago
Olga Garay-English - international arts consultant, Los Angeles


The Film/Video Panel honors filmmaker and artist Bani Khoshnoudi for her distinctive ability to speak to the conditions of transience and exile, to consider complex ethical relationships, for her pursuit of the unspoken and under-represented, and her invigorating, empathetic, essential body of work.

The Film/Video Panel honors artist Terence Nance for his omnivorous curiosity, for his vision of cinema as portal, channel, cosmic material, divination tool, decolonizing work and experimental vernacular and for making radical insertions into the pop universe.

Romi Crawford - art historian, professor of Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz - artist, Herb Alpert Award Winner, San Juan, PR
Deborah Stratman - filmmaker/artist, professor of Art, University of Illinois at Chicago, Herb Alpert Award Winner, Chicago


The Music Panel celebrates cellist, improvisor, composer and organizer Tomeka Reid for her tremendous drive, perspicacity, and broad expressive capabilities. As a composer, her rigorous, dazzling music spans many idioms; as a performer she expands what the cello can do.

The Music Panel celebrates pianist, improviser, and composer Cory Smythe for his conceptual audacity, intellectual curiosity, fecundity of imagination, virtuosic performances, sonic innovations and diversity of expressive means, all of which extend ones notion of musicality.

George Lewis - composer, Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, Composition & Historical Musicology - Columbia University, Herb Alpert Award winner, New York
Gustavo Matamoros - composer, interdisciplinary artist, founder, Subtropics Festival, Miami
Myra Melford - pianist, composer, improvisor, professor, UC Berkeley, Herb Alpert Award winner, Berkeley, CA


Interdisciplinary artist Virginia Grise was chosen by the Theatre Panel for her urgent and probing drama, fluid poetic forms, mammoth undertakings; for her generous, spirit-fueled practice, and, as a cause and creature of community, for converting craft to kinship, wish to mandate, and verse to plan of action.

The Theatre Panel chose playwright Aleshea Harris for her furious and playful vision, intense intellectual rigor and experimentations with form, her celebrations of Black life in the midst of historic, systemic, and present-day Black death, and for constructing a theatre that challenges not just the art of playwriting, but the cultural conversation it confronts.

Erik Ehn - playwright, educator, Herb Alpert Award winner, Albuquerque, NM
Maria Manuela Goyanes - Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.
Lloyd Suh - playwright, Herb Alpert Award winner, South Orange, NJ


Artist and healer Guadalupe Maravilla was named Visual Arts prizewinner for his captivating practice and its dynamic sense of ethics and purpose. Through his sculpture, performance, and sound baths, he has transformed his personal understanding of trauma into a path of healing and service. The generosity embodied in his work upsets hierarchical relationships between artist and viewer, and unlocks the potential of the imagination.

Artist and filmmaker Martine Syms was named Visual Arts prizewinner for the resolutely unforgiving ways in which her work – contending with central issues of our time - combines profound ethical questioning with challenging aesthetic codes as she exercises command over bold image-making, birthing the radical imagination of the imminent future.

Cecilia Fajardo-Hill - independent curator, art historian, writer, Los Angeles
Eungie Joo - Curator of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Claire Tancons - curator, writer, researcher, Paris, works in situ


The 28th HAAIA awards celebration will be held virtually on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 2pm PST.

Watch the full and highlighted versions of the 2021 Herb Alpert Awards Virtual Ceremony, honoring ten artists in the fields of Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts





Interview with Banning Eyre for Afropop Worldwide, May 19 2021

photo by: Frederick V. Nielson

The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is an unrestricted prize of $75,000 given annually to risk-taking mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theater and the visual arts. Every year, 10 artists are recognized, and in 2021, one of those is Toshi Reagon, composer, producer and singer/songwriter who spans folk, blues, gospel, rock and funk. Her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, founded the iconic women a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Her father, Cordell Hull Reagon, was a civil rights leader in Albany. So she comes from both roots music and engaged, positive activism from day one. Afropop’s Banning Eyre spoke with Reagon by Zoom about her work, the award and these crazy times we live in. Here’s their conversation.

Banning Eyre: Toshi, it’s great to talk with you. First of all, congratulations on this award. That must be a nice feeling.

Toshi Reagon: You know it's like: What does it all mean? It's great to be in a circle of artists with so many amazing people. But when it comes to awards, I'm always like, "Really? What did I do?" But I'm very grateful.

It's well deserved. I came up in the ‘70s and was a big fan of Sweet Honey in the Rock. I was just watching a number of your videos over the weekend, and they’re wonderful. I grew up in a household where my mother listened to Leadbelly, so I think that's where my whole interest in African-American and ultimately African music started. I hear a lot of tradition in what you do, but I'm curious about how you approach songwriting. How do you think of yourself as a songwriter? What are you trying to do when you write songs?

I just try to be true to what I'm sonically hearing in my head. I've never adhered to genres. I'm one of those lucky kids who grew up with a mom who thought it was good for kids to be around music. She took us with her everywhere when we were really little. And when we started to have our own lives, she respected that and we didn’t travel so much with her. But we got to be at lots of festivals. She worked at the Folklife Festival in 1976. It was the bicentennial year, so the festival was 12 weeks instead of the usual two. And she was in charge of an area called the African Diaspora. And I still think it's one of the greatest things that she ever did.

I think the original idea was that everything would go under a tent. And she was like, "Absolutely not." And so she had a church with no walls, and it had a wooden floor and it could have anything from dances to bands; anything could happen there. She had a front porch. And then she had a sidewalk with a cover that zigzagged and she would have cooks from different parts of the world. One day everybody would be making beans. And another day they would all be working with peanuts. She had hair practitioners from different countries, including the U.S. She had straw basket makers, sculptors, and then at one end, there would be a street singer from somewhere. So, like Flora Molton was there, and you could drop money in the basket. There was a local restaurant, fife and drum players from Mississippi, dance companies from all over Africa. So I just got a big hit of music from all over the world that one summer. It really changed me.

You were just 12 years old then.

Yeah. And already, I didn't believe in listening to just one radio station. I listened to all of them. I was just interested in every kind of music. One of my uncles played djembe and was in an African drum group in Atlanta. So I got a big dose of music with a very wide ranging landscape. So when I think about writing, I don't go, "This is a rock song. This is a folk song. This is a blues song." I just try to be really true to what's coming through. In the beginning of my career people would ask: what kind of music do you do? I just couldn't name one thing. And I just thought that had a lot to do with racism. White innovators could do whatever they want, and then black innovators: “Well what is it that you do?" And I'm like, "Come on, man, you already heard all this music. I'm singing with a guitar. It's not like I'm fooling people, doing something you never heard.” It was deep. It was deep. "What is it?" Come on, y'all know what it is. Stop playing.

I hear you. It seems like everybody is in rebellion against being pigeonholed into genres these days. There is always a lot of complaining about that at the Grammys. “Why did you put me in this category instead of that one?”

Well, we all come from so many different places. It's not like we don't have time to name them. What's the rush?

When you list your influences in interviews, you refer to a lot of rock bands, Led Zeppelin, Prince, a lot of things that are just singing with a guitar. And I hear all that in your delivery. It's so strong. I like that openness. We run into this genre thing quite a bit in African music. Artists don't want to be boxed in. It's music. If it's good, it's good.

I agree. You've been around, so you’ve seen how the industry has transformed things. It's very hard to monetize recorded music now, whereas in the ‘40s, ‘50s, up to the ‘90s, I think that genre-making was created to monetize the sale of records. It was so you could put people in a streamlined path and then just run a production line. Now in the U.S., radio stations are so segregated. It's easy to make something popular and then say, "O.K., now we are done with this. Now it's going to be that. And then we’re done with that. So…”

Tell me about your band, BIGLovely.

BIGLovely is a group of a lot of amazing musicians that I've played with over the years. Everybody is like an independent agent, and a genius at what they do. And each one of them really affects the sound. Now, that's where some of my writing gets influenced. There are two main drummers that play, and they’re both really different. One of them is Allison Miller who is a very well-known jazz drummer, and Allison was subbing for Bobby Burke, or “Chicken” as we call him. I was at a gig where Allison was playing with Ani DiFranco and I saw on the table one of her records. I bought it and in the car I listened to it. And I was like, "Wait, is this the right record? This is a jazz record." And all of a sudden I started writing for her very differently. I got interested in how she plays and what she can do as a jazz drummer inside the context of my music and what I want to say. That was really exciting, so I get very influenced by the people in the band because they are all particularly incredible at something, and I always want to have that motivating the sound. They are a great band. We didn't get to play together much this year obviously, but I am not one of those artists who is like, "Can I get out for 100 dates a year?" I do a lot of different projects. But when we play together, it's amazing. You never know who's going to be in the band. There's an all-women’s version. There's an integrated version of the band. Sometimes it's me with a guy. It just ends up being, "Who can do this gig?"

It sounds like a family. How many people in the whole bunch?

I don't know. I think it's about 20 people that could end up being there. There are like three drummers, two or three bass players. Various guitar players. Four horn players. A couple of violins. And then four or five different vocalists who show up. It’s beautiful. I feel very lucky.

Let's talk about your opera based on Octavia Butler's 1993 novel Parable of the Sower. It's kind of a post-apocalyptic survival story set in the mid-2020s.

That's something my mother and I worked on for awhile. My mom retired in 2014 and she said, "Here, you go on with this." We are both big Octavia Butler fans, and we had an opportunity to be part of a class that Toni Morrison asked my mother to teach at Princeton. It was a semester-long workshop. You had to have a text, and my mom picked Parable of the Sower. She couldn't do all the classes so she said, “Maybe Toshi could do half of them.” I was in my early 20s and I was like, “O.K., here we go to teach with Toni Morrison. This is going to be fun.”

It was awesome, really amazing. And after we got through that class, we thought, "Wow, we could really sing this book." So we started investigating where the rights were. That was in the late ‘90s, and it actually took till 2008 for us to make the first attempt of getting it up. We had done an opera with Robert Wilson, the director, The Temptation of St. Anthony. And one of the people involved in that, Gerard Mortier, was supposed to take over the New York City Opera. We had worked together on this opera at the Paris Opera House, where he was in charge before coming to New York City Opera. But then New York City Opera fell apart, and he left, and Parable never happened. So it took until 2015 for us to do our first real workshop.

I think the way we were just independent has been very exciting. I'm a producer. I had to hire another producer to do the administrative stuff. It's kind of a thing where it's so giant for me that I can't even believe it every time we get into a theater. We've been on four continents; thousands and thousands of people have seen the show. Like everybody else, we got shut down last year, but we will hopefully be back in the game next spring in several cities.

We take this work really seriously. Octavia Butler researched plausible conditions in the 21st century, and she hasn't been wrong. Her clock in the book is so accurate it's scary. Because where she sees us in the year 2024 is horrific, and not something that any of us can tolerate. I don’t care what your belief system is. It's too bad for us to be, "Oh, that's O.K. if it happens." So the way I think about this work is it's an opportunity to get into cities and work with people who are activating in a multitude of ways around humans getting in the right relationship with each other and with the planet.

That's a short way of saying all the stuff we do. I show up a few months before, way before, and I just ask the question, “Who would like to work with me on a path that is related to this book?” Every issue is in this book, and so there is always someone teaching it. There are always artists innovating off it. There are always people in communities, even if they've never heard of the book, that are working on issues like water and climate crisis issues, issues of irresponsible governing, things like that. So there's always lots to do. And then we have the show, which I actually call The Belly Button. We’re just going to meet at the show and look at each other and I’m going to tell you a story, and then we’ll to continue doing our work across the borders. That I think is the purpose of our work.

Photo by Desdemona Burgin
Photo by Desdemona Burgin
I read that you did the show at NYU Abu Dhabi.

That's the first place we started. Yes. The debut was there, and then the U.S. debut was in North Carolina at U.N.C. Chapel Hill.

I'm not that familiar with the book, but you have certainly made me curious. I see in writings about this show, this term Afrofuturism comes up. It's a term that keeps winding in and out of our discussions these days. What does it mean to you?

I think it is simply that we exist in the future. Black people exist in the future. I think it comes out of an idea where there's so much that was imagined for us that never included black people. It didn't include much diversity at all. Almost all the stories involved white people getting someplace and making decisions and doing whatever they want. Even the visioning across the board was so focused on white men, so you can see how we’re trying to catch up now, to tell a story or create narratives, even when it's time to talk about some of our serious problems. We have to reach to really understand that inclusive and diverse messaging, and look at things that we have to do in order for everybody to be healed and feel they have access to something better than what they have now.

Afrofuturism, especially through the lens of artists, is just a big way to transport yourself and declare yourself in the future. Black people really understand that your physical body might not make it to the future, but you will make it to the future. We have to hold that understanding to be taken from the great continent and being pulled across the water and to deal with the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and all of the enslavement in the Caribbean and in America, and then to be constantly in a state of declaring, "Hey, no, you can't do this. No, we want this." That’s terrible. So Afrofuturism is a very freeing and wonderful thing, to imagine yourself in the future, and then to declare yourself in the future, and then to be in the present and look to look at the past and say, "We arrived at the future." It's amazing to be able to do that. And it gives voice, it gives a name to a multitude of practices that are important across scholarship and across independent innovation.

It’s the same way that Adrienne Maree Brown started to bring up emergent strategy as a way of naming a possibility of ways to create together that's based on Octavia Butler's parables, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. We can actually see this as a tool to be able to name things that used to be so complicated to name, but now you can say, “You need to have an emergent strategy on these particular issues, and we are going to invite artists that are illuminating Afrofuturism so that we can actually have a great conversation about the future.”

That's fascinating. It's a very provocative and fascinating movement. I've just been reading a book called A Fistful of Shells by Toby Green. It’s essentially an account of the whole era of the Atlantic slave trade but from the African perspective. It fills in so many things, bringing in the oral histories of the griots. It makes the point constantly that historical literature has so rarely given real consideration to the cultures, lives, civilizations and histories within Africa that preceded Europeans, and that continue to unfold to this day. Great book. In one of your videos I was watching you made a comment about how we should be talking about race. You said something like, “Race is the only thing we should be talking about.” This is a moment when it seems like a new conversation is happening on race. Or is it? How do you feel about that?

It shouldn't be moments. What we need to do is evolve past this moment. It's not a moment. It's been hundreds and hundreds of years. Racism is a strategy of control and violence. That's all it is. The same with any sort of bigotry that you allow to become systemic. You allow it to run your government. You allow it to exploit a specific kind of person for your own benefit. Humans are the most dangerous species on the planet. We are the most destructive species on the planet. We’re so stuck in this particular kind of battle, and it's so infuriating and frustrating. And this is the year we can just decide that there's no limit to how bad things can get. Things getting bad is not going to change people's minds. So we can forget about that and we can just stop having the conversation about, "If we say things in a nice way… Or if we tried to do things in a gentler way… If we invite people in…"

Dude, it's over. It's a worldwide pandemic. The success of it depended on generosity and care. Generosity and care. That's how you could end Covid. People who have a lot of resources share them. Every individual that is able has a way of behaving that would cover other groups of people that have been so deprived of resources and might not be able to exist up to the line. After a year, that group didn't exist anymore. After year, we should have covered enough to be able to extend, no matter how horrific and racist, we should be able to cover it. And it hasn't happened because the planet is run by really exploitive people who no matter how wealthy they get, they never have enough. They use all of the things, the racism, the religion things, the hierarchical things, women can't do this, we can't have queer people or trans people… All of this. The bottom line is, humans are just out of alignment with the planet, and that needs to be our goal. We can't get there by just fighting over these things. We now have a record of how that doesn't work. Your oppression is not going to work. It's not going to make you happy, and it's not going to help humanity or the planet. We are literally deteriorating ourselves. We are made of water, like almost everything on earth. And we are suffocating. We’re suffocating in the ocean.

So, it's like we ain’t got no sense! Whenever people ask me about racism I say, "Think bigger." Because to have this conversation about race, and the reason I zero in on it is just that I want to get it really cracked open, and really expose the many ways that we are just trying to have a fight. We're just trying to be violent. We're just trying to be destructive, and somewhere in that fight and that violence and that destruction are some pieces of joy from some few people who clearly have something wrong with them. That's why we go in on it, but the bottom line is: to have a true evolution, we have to break that down. We have to be the species that we are on earth, like every other species, and we can have our disagreements, and we don't have to love each other, and we can even go at it sometimes, but we can't go at it to the extent that we’re actually causing the destruction of the planet.

Powerful stuff. You know, I told you that I grew up in a household where my mother played Leadbelly, but she also played Herb Alpert. I was actually a huge fan when I was six and seven years old. In the last few years I've connected with Herb partly because of these awards and some other work that he's done. But I'm curious to know. Was Herb Alpert ever part of your consciousness coming up? Or was this coming from out of the blue?

I knew about Herb Alpert. He had some hits on the radio. He made crossover hits.

He sure did. In fact he was top of the hit parade when you were born in 1964.

That’s right. Also, a lot of my friends have won this award. Michelle Dorrance, who is one of my collaborators, a tap dancer. She won it a few years back. And Meshell Ndegeocello, who is like family. What a beautiful thing. It's lovely to see artists holding the space. There's the Lillian Gish Prize. When Pete Seeger won that Lillian Gish Prize, I sang at the ceremony. Of course, he gave it away. I think we were in the Bronx, and the Hudson River was almost dead. There was a big cleaning of the river. And then there was a group that makes canoes and teach kids how to make these canoes and then they can be in the water with the canoes. It was something like Rock the Boat. So we sang, and he gave it all to that organization. I think it was about $195,000. It was during the recession, so it was actually smaller that year. Anyway I sang with Pete, and now I get to vote every year. I get to nominate someone for that award.

And it's amazing. These two sisters said we’re going to make a fund to support artists. And it's huge. They be given people amounts like $300,000 every year. So Herb is a brilliant and amazing person, not just because of the artistry, but because of his forward thinking. It's miraculous and beautiful and genius and wonderful. I try to give artists money all the time. I don't have money like that. But I'll send my friends like $500 they'll say, “What's this for?” And I’ll say, “Artist grant.” “Are you kidding?” “No. Artist grant.”

We do a festival called Word-Rock-Sword, and it's been so beautiful. Somebody asked me what is the point and I said so we can be like a giant bird-artist with huge wings and none of us should ever be hungry, and none of us should be without a home, and none of us should be without a gig. We should be able to take care of each other. And I think that's the epitome of what Herb is doing.

Amen. So let's look ahead. We’re coming out of this pandemic. You've got new wind in your sails from this award. What do you see ahead for you?

I'm just going to do what I do, put a group of people together, get in a congregational vibe and make music and transform the era that we're in. I'm going to release a lot of records and hopefully get Parable on the road when it’s safe for everybody to be in buildings together. I have a bunch of residencies, and I've made my residencies all collaborations with other artists, so that I can support these genius people. So I’ll continue to do all that. Fight the good fight.

Good for you. And congratulations once again. I look forward to seeing you on a stage before too long.

Thank you. It's a pleasure to speak with you.

The 10 artists, from such fields as dance, music, film/video, theater and visual arts, receive an unrestricted $75,000 prize and a residency at California Institute of the Arts.

By Chris Gardner for The Hollywood Reporter

May 18, 2021

The Herb Alpert Foundation has selected the recipients for the 27th Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a group of 10 artists (up from five in previous years) who will each receive $75,000 and a residency at California Institute of the Arts, which administers the prize on behalf of the foundation.

The honorees — mid-career artists representing five disciplines including music, dance, film/video, theater, visual arts — are choreographer Beth Gill (dance); choreographer Will Rawls (dance); artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph (film/video); artist and filmmaker Adam Khalil (film/video); musician Toshi Reagon (music); pianist and composer David Virelles (music); playwright Kimber Lee (theater); director and artist Kaneza Schaal (theater); artist Steffani Jemison (visual arts); and artist Tanya Lukin Linklater (visual arts).

They will be feted during a virtual celebration on May 20. The awards were founded by the legendary musician and artist Alpert and his wife, Grammy-winning singer Lani Hall, as a way to single out artists for “challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines and society.” To date, they’ve honored 130 artists and through the Santa Monica-based Herb Alpert Foundation, they’ve doled out close to $200 million through various art initiatives.

“I like artists who take the road less traveled,” Alpert tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I really think artists are more important than politicians. They are more honest — whether they are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or whatever — their function is to be honest. You have to be authentic to be a great artist and that’s why I love the arts.”

The grants are unrestricted and the artists are free to use the $75,000 in any way they see fit. “Artists are the second responders,” notes Alpert, who, in addition to his music and philanthropy owns Vibrato Grill Jazz at The Glen Centre off Beverly Glen Circle. “They are the ones who give us life and tell us what’s happening in the world.”

For the foundation and the Alperts, doubling the recipient roster meant doubling the good news during what has been a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has decimated the arts and culture landscape due to widespread closures of live entertainment venues, museums and other institutions where artists practice their disciplines.

“Singular as they are, the 10 winners this year share several qualities,” says Irene Borger, who has served as director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts since its inception. “They are adventurous experimenters, are attentive to the relationship between maker and receiver, and set in motion a counterforce to the issues and absences of our time.”

Each award is adjudicated by three-member panels of arts professionals and artists in each of the five categories. This year featured 10 past winners. Past recipients of the honor are such noted artists as Carrie Mae Weems, Taylor Mac, Suzan-Lori Parks, Julia Wolfe, Michelle Dorrance, Tania Bruguera, Kerry James Marshall, Lisa Kron, Sharon Lockhart, Ralph Lemon, Arthur Jafa, Cai Guo-Qiang, Okwui Okpokwasili and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, among many others.

More about 27th Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts honorees below.

Choreographer Beth Gill
A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has been working in contemporary dance and performance since 2005. Her credits include Untitled, Eleanor & Eleanor, what it looks like, what it feels like, and Electric Midwife. Per the panel, she was selected “for her masterful, demanding and idiosyncratic work, for her startling, evocative images, for the theatrical, almost narrative tension she sustains and for her use of minimal resources to sensually and rigorously investigate the most private and interior of spaces.”

Choreographer Will Rawls
A graduate of Williams College, he has ben a guest artist at Bard College, Barnard College and a mentor for Colorado College’s Department of Theatre and Dance. His other work had appeared at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, the Brooklyn Museum, Tanzquartier Wien, Mount Tremper Arts, and Williams College. Per the panel, he was selected for using “his spare, elegant body to carry out a fearless engagement with dance forms while never evading the very present realities of race and gender.”

Artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph
The Emmy and Grammy-nominated filmmaker is known for his multi-disciplinary work and collaborations with such artists as Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus and Beyoncé, the latter with whom he worked on her culture-shifting Lemonade. He’s been awarded many artistic prizes including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and the Los Angeles Artadia Award. Per the panel, he was chosen “for his masterful, mesmerizing films and installations that affirm Black lives and the historical struggle for liberation in America.”

Artist and filmmaker Adam Khalil
A Gates Millennium Scholar and graduate of Bard College in the Film and Electronic Arts Department, he is a video artist and media archivist. Per the panel, he was chosen “for generating a space for new forms by and for Indigenous filmmakers through his collaborative filmmaking, mentoring, and assertive position towards institutional politics. With a prankster’s side-eye and biting critique, he creates dynamic, imperative works that resist a finished ‘colonial gesture.'”

Producer Toshi Reagon
On her official website, the multi-talented musician describes her work as “a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. Performing since the age of 17, her albums include Toshi, Have You Heard, The Righteous Ones, Justice and Kindness, works that span genres from blues to rolk to folk. According to the panel, she was selected “for her beautiful, incendiary, empowering and haunting work and for the example she continues to provide of how an artist might help make the world a better place.”

Pianist and composer David Virelles
His albums include Continuum, Mbóko, Antenna and Gnosis. He’s been honored by the Canada Council for the Arts, Louis Applebaum Award and Jazz Gallery Commission. The music panel selected him “for the richness of his astonishing musical language, revealing serious research of different folkloric traditions and deep cultural grounding, in an original and inspiring variety of formats. His thoughtful, provocative work is crucial for this moment.”

Playwright Kimber Lee
A graduate of UT Austin, Lee’s plays include Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play, To the Yellow House and Tokyo Fish Story. She was selected and singled out “for her fierce, vital, and bracingly original investigations that, with incisive clarity, musical, muscular language, and astonishing leaps of imagination, explode clichés, shatter stereotypes, dare to imagine new theatrical forms, and grapple with the most urgent conversations of our time.”

Director and artist Kaneza Schaal
She was named a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and has received distinctions from United States Artists Fellowship, SOROS Art Migration and Public Space Fellowship, a Joyce Award and a Creative Capital Award. She has taught at Princeton, Yale and Harvard. The panel offered this for choosing Schaal: “Her pieces assert language, music, movement, film, and design, valorize dreaming, humor, and rituals of restoration and do nothing less than reimagine and reinvigorate the theatrical event.”

Artist Steffani Jemison
A graduate of the School of Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia University, her work as appeared at Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, San Jose Museum of Art and Studio Museum in Harlem. She was selected for “her rigorous, generous practice, breathing new life into modernist ideas, bringing forward scholarship of the Black avant-garde and experimenting with movement, gesture, language, and scores to create intimate, reflective performances.”

Artist Tanya Lukin Linklater
A graduate of University of Alberta and Stanford University, she focuses her work on investigating the histories of Indigenous people’s lives, lands and structures of sustenance, according to her website. She has shown work at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Chicago Architecture Biennial. Per the panel, Linklater was selected for “her thoughtful, visually compelling work that powerfully connects art-making across time. Through varied means — archives, histories, language, artifacts, presence and absence and embodiment — she engages community, and dignifies indigenous voices with a deep generosity embedded into her practice.”

May 20, 2021 will mark the 27th annual celebration of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (HAAIA) and the doubling of awardees, this year, from five to ten risk-taking, mid-career artists – experimenters - who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. Fifteen highly regarded leaders in the arts make up the panels overseeing the artist nominations, selecting two award recipients in each of five disciplines: dance, film/video, music, theatre and visual arts.

The awards were founded and conceived by legendary musician, philanthropist and artist Herb Alpert, and his Grammy-winning vocalist wife, Lani Hall. Now in its 27th year, the HAAIA has to date been awarded to 130 artists. Each awardee receives a $75,000 unrestricted prize and residency at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) which administers the prize on behalf of the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall created the Herb Alpert Foundation in 1985 and over thirty years and more than $185 million dollars later, Herb Alpert remains one of America’s most important and loyal advocates for the arts and arts education. Having witnessed the gradual, and sometimes precipitous decline of funding for the arts, Herb Alpert decided to do something about it, and artists found a new arena of support – and a new champion.

Irene Borger, Director of HAAIA since its inception in 1994, reflects on the Award’s continued importance in such a trying time for artists. “Ten of this year's panelists are Herb Alpert Award Artists. All fifteen have had projects delayed, cancelled, turned upside-down or closed. Giving ten prizes meant double the good news in a hard time.”

Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation added, “In appreciation of the significant challenges facing art makers and performing artists during this period of diminished opportunities, Herb and Lani Alpert decided, for this particular year, to double the number of awards to help support artists to be productive and thrive."

Today, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts announces the 2021 panelists (see below). Each award is adjudicated by three-member panels of respected arts professionals and artists - including ten past winners for this year - in each of the five categories.


Nora Chipaumire - choreographer, dancer, Herb Alpert Award winner, NY
Alma Guillermoprieto - reporter/writer, Bogotá, Colombia
Gideon Lester - artistic director, Fisher Center, Bard College and senior curator, Open Society University Network’s Center for the Arts and Human Rights, Annandale-on-Hudson and Brooklyn, NY


Almudena Escobar Lopez - independent curator, scholar, archivist, and
researcher, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
Alexandra Juhasz - scholar, maker, and teacher of activist media, Distinguished Professor of Film, Brooklyn College, CUNY, Brooklyn, NY
Renee Tajima-Peña - filmmaker, Herb Alpert Award winner, Professor of Asian American Studies, director, the Center for EthnoCommunications, UCLA


Courtney Bryan - composer-pianist, Herb Alpert Award winner, The Albert and Linda Mintz Professor of Music, Newcomb College in the School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University, New Orleans
Vijay Iyer, composer-pianist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Franklin D. and
Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts, Harvard University, New York
Miya Masaoka, composer, sound artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Associate
Professor, Director, Sound Art Program, Columbia University, New York


Eisa Davis - playwright, singer, composer, actor, Herb Alpert Award winner,
Brooklyn, NY
Dan Hurlin - theater maker, Herb Alpert Award winner, New York
Naomi Iizuka -playwright, professor, head of graduate playwriting, University
of California, San Diego, Herb Alpert Award winner, San Diego, CA

Visual Arts

Emily Jacir - artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Dar Jacir for Art and Research, Bethlehem
Valerie Cassel Oliver - Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Michael Rakowitz - artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Professor of Art and
Director of Graduate Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

Among the 130 past winners are noted artists: Carrie Mae Weems, Taylor Mac, Suzan-Lori Parks, Julia Wolfe, Michelle Dorrance, Tania Bruguera, Kerry James Marshall, Lisa Kron, Sharon Lockhart, Ralph Lemon, Arthur Jafa, Cai Guo-Qiang, Okwui Okpokwasili and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah to name a few.

The 27th HAAIA awards celebration will be held virtually on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 2pm PST.

The Herb Alpert Foundation which funds the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts will double the number of annual award recipients from 5 to 10 while maintaining the $75,000 unrestricted prize given to each winner in the five categories of dance, music, film/video, theatre and visual arts. The Foundation also adds immediate COVID-19 related support to artists in need and increases/accelerates grants to existing grantees.


Legendary trumpeter and philanthropist Herb Alpert has announced that the 27th annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (HAAIA) will be presented to ten artists, doubling the number of awardees from past years. The award includes an unrestricted prize of $75,000 for winners in each of five categories: dance, film/video, music, theatre and visual arts.

Herb Alpert, speaking to the financial crisis many artists are facing said, "If doctors, nurses, and firefighters are our first responders then artists, society's truth tellers, are our second responders. How can we as a society not do everything – more than we think - to support them in this crisis?”

The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (HAAIA) was conceived by Herb Alpert and his two-time Grammy-winning vocalist wife Lani Hall Alpert to reward creative experimenters who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. In addition, the awards provide vital financial support to each artist at a key juncture in their creative development. Past winners include: Suzan-Lori Parks, Catherine Opie, Carrie Mae Weems, Vijay Iyer, Taylor Mac, Tania Bruguera, Okwui Okpokwasili, Derek Bermel and Michelle Dorrance.

On this year’s major change to the awards, Lani Hall Alpert said, "Giving the award to five talented artists every year for the past 26 years has been incredibly gratifying. But the effect of the pandemic on the arts made us realize that we needed to do more. That’s why we've doubled the number of awardees for next year.”

The HAAIA has been overseen since its inception by founding director Irene Borger, who has watched the impact the award has had on the 130 recipients so far. Irene noted, “If a prize to an individual artist is doing its work, the benefits can inspire, shake up, irritate, move, and move others to action. May the impact of the ten artists be exponential.”

In addition to the $75,000 unrestricted prize, awardees are given a week-long artists residency at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) which has administered the prize for 26 years. CalArts president Ravi Rajan added, "We all know why Herb and Lani didn't hesitate one bit to do this -- because they too are artists, and they see how artists will model that better future for us all."

In 1985 Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Alpert established the Herb Alpert Foundation to oversee their philanthropic efforts focused on the arts and compassion and well-being. Since then, hundreds of organizations have been positively impacted by the Foundation’s funding and support.

Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation, talking about the dynamic couple whose passion started it all, said, "Support to artists, whose voices are the heart and soul of our democracy, has always been important to Herb and Lani. It led them to start the Herb Alpert Award 26 years ago when the National Endowment for the Arts funding to artists was eliminated. And now, under incredibly difficult times, the desire to increase their support to individual artists is central to their philanthropic work."

Adapting strategies to the current crisis has been a priority for the Foundation. The first order was to commit continuing support to the existing pool of grantees, while also seeking opportunities to provide immediate relief to individuals in crisis. To do so the Foundation identified several organizations that could provide specific COVID – 19 emergency support and added additional funding for those objectives to existing 2020 commitments. These included six figure grants of additional COVID-19 relief / support to Chrysalis, the Jazz Foundation, the Good People Fund, and Artists Relief. Another priority was to expedite 2020 grant payments to grantees for which cash flow issues were pressing.

Rona Sebastian added, “In general, we see our funding addressing two levels of need simultaneously……direct emergency support as well as funding for ensuring longer term sustainability of our grantees as we continue to weather this terrible crisis situation.”

About the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts
The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a program of the Herb Alpert Foundation, is an unrestricted prize of $75,000 given to ten, risk-taking, mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts. The prize was initiated and funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and has been administered by the California Institute of the Arts since 1994. The Award honors and supports artists respected for their creativity, ingenuity, and bodies of work, at a moment in their lives when they are poised to propel their art in new and unpredictable directions. The Herb Alpert Award recognizes experimenters who are making something that matters within and beyond their field.

About The Herb Alpert Foundation
The Herb Alpert Foundation envisions a world in which all young people are blessed with opportunities that allow them to reach their potential and lead productive and fulfilling lives. Over the past few years, the Foundation has focused on core areas, such as “The Arts,” a broad category that includes arts education, a focus on jazz, and support to professionals. This also includes programs that seek to use the arts to help meet the needs of underserved youth and to help build competencies that will enable them to become successful adults. The other core area is “Compassion and Well-Being,” which celebrates the positive aspects of human psychology and seeks to bring more empathy and compassionate behavior into our society. Please note: the Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.

About CalArts
CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theatre—CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on art-making excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.



Watch Herb Alpert's live announcement of the 2020 HAAiA Winners on Spectrum TV News



By Christina Campodonico for The Argonaut | May 27, 2020


The T.S. Eliot saying goes that “April is the cruelest month,” and this year as COVID-19 put its stamp on almost every aspect of daily life, it rang especially true for artists and arts organizations — preceded by an equally brutal March.

Late that month, downtown LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) laid off 97 part-time workers. The same day, the Hammer Museum in Westwood dismissed 150 of its part-time employees. In April, a survey of 11,000 artists applying for emergency aid from the national arts coalition Artist Relief and co-sponsored by the nonprofit advocacy group Americans for the Arts, found that 67% of California-based respondents were unemployed and 80% of those surveyed did not yet have a plan for recovering from the crisis.

While theaters and galleries from the heart of downtown to Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station sit in limbo under LA County’s ever-shifting stay-at-home order, and a quarter of SoCal galleries surveyed by the LA Times say they are facing permanent closure if the conditions of the pandemic do not improve quickly, there are glimmers of hope.

Earlier this spring, the J. Paul Getty Trust launched a $10-million LA Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund to aid small and mid-sized visual arts organizations, then co-launched a $650,000 relief fund for visual artists in LA County. The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs recently launched a second round of emergency artists relief funding.

Among the organizations aiding artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 crisis is the Santa Monica-based Herb Alpert Foundation. The brain child of legendary pop trumpeter and A&M Records co-founder Herb Alpert, the musician’s namesake philanthropic organization honored the recipients of the 26th annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts on Friday, May 22, during a virtual Zoom ceremony attended by 200 people from across the internet.

For Alpert (who trusts the selection of the winners to a cohort of expert panelists), the question of backing the arts right now during this “crazy time” is a no-brainer.

“The arts are so critical to everyone’s lives,” the 85-year-old Alpert said over the phone. “Instead of reducing the amount of money that’s going into the arts, we’ve got to think about supporting artists. They’re the second responders. We know we need the first responders for human health, but the second responders are the artists of the world, the painters, the sculptors, the musicians, the dancers. Those are the people that keep us buoyant. … They’re the ones that keep us thinking happy and help to get us through life.”

This year’s winners are choreographer Karen Sherman, filmmaker Sky Hopinka, jazz trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, New York theater maker Phil Soltanoff and fine artist Firelei Báez.

The award — a $75,000 unrestricted gift administered by the California Institute for the Arts and granted to each of five exceptional mid-career artists in the fields of dance, music, film/video, theater, and visual arts after a rigorous selection process — not only serves as a landmark moment of recognition and investment in an artist’s career, but carries special meaning this year as many artists struggle to make ends meet and figure out how to continue making work under strained circumstances such as closed venues and/or canceled or postponed performances.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Soltanoff, his voice breaking as he accepted his award and spoke of the thematic alignment between his experimental theatrical work on “Star Trek’s” Captain Kirk and that of the Herb Alpert Awards. “To go where no man has gone before… that spirit is something I believe in, and I feel the Herb Alpert Awards supports…”

“It gives me a vote of confidence in what I’m doing,” Soltanoff said in an earlier phone conversation. “The acknowledgment from my colleagues is fantastic. The money’s fantastic. … It allows me to have the studio and not worry about paying rent on it. It allows me to get a piece of equipment I’ve had my eye on. … It gives me a chance to dance with my imagination.

“The money becomes really a way to get through the next period of time before touring and residencies and workshops can safely start up again,” he added.

“To be able to focus and have some quietude and be able to reflect is kind of an endangered species when you have to worry about how you’re going to pay rent,” said awards director Irene Borger. “It’s quite wonderful to be able to support artists who are doing deep work. … This is a kind of shelter from the storm.”

For other artists, like Grammy-nominated Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, receiving the Herb Alpert Award in music was a full circle moment.

“I grew up listening to Mr. Alpert’s music,” said the musician. “It’s a huge part of my musical heart. … To be part of this award just means the most.”

“Some of my fondest memories are of listening with my grandparents around the kitchen table. Mr. Alpert’s Tijuana Brass recordings were a big part of that time for me,” he added in a statement. “The honor is beyond words. His contribution musically, which obviously was integral in my nourishment as I developed, is boundless. His full commitment to help support, champion and uplift other artists and outliers… shows the grace within and why he is one of the G.O.A.Ts. (Greatest of All Times).”

Yet the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is just the tip of the iceberg for the support that the Herb Alpert Foundation gives financially. Since its founding in 1988, the foundation has granted more than $185 million to arts, music and nonprofit organizations such as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance (now the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance) at UCLA, the California Alliance for Arts Education, programs at Santa Monica’s The Broad Stage and 18th Street Arts Center, and P.S. Arts, which operates in Santa Monica public schools. Separately, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts has given $8 million to individual artists and the handling of the awards since 1994.

“I sometimes think of it as a pyramid,” said Herb Alpert Foundation President Rona Sebastian. “And at the base of the pyramid is all the young people. We do a lot of programs that are really designed to give the arts experience to as many young people as we can. And then as you go up the pyramid you see how we kind of fine-tune and hone in our programmatic support. … And at the tippy top, I would say is really the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.”

In response to the financial crises facing arts and nonprofit organizations due to the pandemic, the Herb Alpert Foundation has “front-loaded” its aid — giving grants to its partner organizations such as homelessness services nonprofit Chrysalis earlier this year to make up for revenue lost from canceled fundraisers or galas and given even more flexibility to how recipients utilize the funding.

“It’s really a combination of flexibility and immediate response,” said Sebastian. “We’ve always historically had a policy of primarily giving non-restricted giving because we have felt that it’s really the nonprofit organizations and their leadership that know best. … In response to COVID-19, we see that a lot of foundations who didn’t do that in the past are now pivoting… and [giving] the organizations non-restrictive giving. … We’re actually pleased to see that a lot of other foundations are now following that lead.”


By Jackie Moe for Backstage SoCal -May 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has left artists all around the world with canceled tours, closed galleries, and empty theaters. But Herb Alpert, Grammy Award-winning music legend and visual artist icon, feels that what the world needs now is art — and he is doing his part to support and spread that message.

Despite the lockdown, the Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts will host the 26th annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts — virtually, of course — which provides five unrestricted $75,000 grants to independent artists working in dance, film/video, music, theatre and visual art. This year’s online awards presentation will be held on Friday, May 22 at 2 p.m.

Over the course of 26 years, the Awards have granted $8 million to working artists, making Alpert and wife Lani Hall one of the most influential and fiercest supporters of arts and arts education. I had the honor to chat with the always insightful and wonderfully engaging Alpert about why this award is more important than ever, his current projects, and what art means to him.

We’ve talked before and it’s always just such a pleasure, Herb. The last time we spoke you actually even had your trumpet in hand and played a little for me.

Well, I still have it on hand here. This is what I do. I play the trumpet, I record, I paint and I sculpt and that’s me all the time.

So how have you been spending all of that creative energy during the lockdown?

Well, I’ve been recording. I have a recording facility in my studio here and so I’ve been recording. And I’ve painted more pictures that I know what to do with, and I’ve also been sculpting.  I’m a right-brained guy. And this is why I love the arts so much. I think the soul of our country is shaped by our artists. And not just musicians, but actors and poets and dancers and everybody. We need them. Especially at this time. We need the arts. I mean, the artists are our second responders. They’re the people that keep us buoyant and keep us feeling, and that is so crucially important. That’s why Herb Alpert Awards are a part of it, but just a small part of it. We’ve got to get everybody to get on board, especially the politicians where they feel like the arts are dispensable.

That’s a very good point. There seems to be a current divide between the essential and nonessential society right now, with artists and entertainers in the non-essential category.

Yeah. Unfortunately they should be next in line. I mean, we need the first responders. They’re the ones that keep us alive. But the second responders are the ones that give us hope. That’s what we need. That’s why we need the artists, I believe. It’s a different time. Hopefully there’s an end. I don’t know if there’s an end in sight, but there’s an end someplace.

Something I find really interesting with the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is that it supports mid-career artists, while so many foundations and charities support students or up-and-comers. Why is this important to you?

I always look to honor the artists that go for the road less traveled, you know, the ones that are pushing it a little differently in a more experimental way. I think those are the real artists. Those are the ones that they don’t care whether you like it or not. They’re going to be doing their thing, and they are not doing it for the money. They’re doing it for their soul, for their art form. I mean that’s their passion. So I tend to gravitate towards those people. And you know my story; I had this opportunity when I was eight years old and I’ve been blessed way beyond my dreams, and it gives me pleasure to be able to help pass it on.

What is the “it factor” for an award recipient?

Oh, well that’s a good question. It’s different for every artist, but everyone has their own idea of what art is and who’s great and who’s not. It’s very personal. But we try to bring together great people to make those decisions. I’m not involved in the decisions at all. Intentionally. But we have really qualified people that help guide us and I believe in their choices.

Have you checked in or kind of kept an eye out on various past award recipients?

Well, not really actually. I mean, overall I have, but this is our 26th year. So there’s a lot of artists out there; some have done really well, some are still looking for their spot in the sun. But it’s all worth it, because I think art plays such an important part in our society. I’m just one of many that feel the same. And unfortunately our politicians seem like they don’t get it for the most part. I’m not saying all of them, but a lot of them just don’t think that the arts are worth investing in. And some of the larger corporations are also kind of dialing down with the arts at this moment. Unfortunately it seems like they have other priorities. But I see priority number two for me is making sure we keep art alive. I’m not only talking about jazz and music; I’m talking about painting and sculpting and acting and dancing and singing and everything that has to do with the arts.

How has the current pandemic situation helped or hindered artists?

Well, it’s definitely hindered our artists. I mean there’s so many artists that were relying on doing live concerts and working with other bands and earning a living that way. And now they’re in a bit of a struggle. A lot of artists are not as active as they would like to be sadly.

In your opinion, especially in our current pandemic situation, how do artists recover and keep the arts thriving?

Well, that’s a really good question. You’re talking about the unknown. I don’t know how long this is going to last. We need some different leadership that would help people to respond to how great and how important it is to have the arts in our lives. I know what we’re trying to do is keep our communities alive, and we try to get into communities that are often overlooked and underserved. So the crisis has really shown a light on the inequities that have plagued our society for decades. So it’s a problem. I hope maybe there’ll be some different understanding when we get out of this of what we need to do; there’s some new things to think about. It’s really interesting. The times they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan said that. They really are changing. They’re changing dramatically. And unless we get on board, we’re going to be in trouble.

Have you ever experienced fear in your own career?

Oh yeah, fear is part of an artist’s repertoire. That’s what you do. That’s what art is all about. That’s what good art is all about. You know, you’re always wondering whether you can rise to the occasion, whether you’re playing jazz or standing in front of a blank canvas or creating something with clay. The fear is, do I know what I’m doing? Can I come up with something worth looking at? And I think fear is part of the repertoire of an artist. Cause there’s the unknown. That’s the thing that is so inspiring about art. It’s seductive because the arts are a mystery; you can’t put your finger on it. You can’t put your finger on what you like about it, or what you don’t like about it.

When you think of all the great songs and things that have been written through the years in the Western lexicon, there’s 12 notes. Everyone has those same 12 notes. Mozart had those notes. Beethoven had those notes. Thelonious Monk had those notes. Charlie Parker had those notes. You know what I’m saying? It’s a great mystery of how do you get all these different combinations out of 12 notes? You can’t figure it out, even if you try to analyze it. And there are people that have tried to analyze it, but you can’t, because it’s in that other special place that has to do with feelings. And that’s why art is so important.

Herb Alpert Award Theatre Winners (L-R) Daniel Alexander Jones ('06), Eisa Davis ('12), Pavol Liska & Kelly Copper ('13), Lloyd Suh ('19), Bill "Reverend Billy" Talen ('10), Rinde Eckert ('09), Dan Hurlin ('04), Daniel Fish ('17), David Greenspan ('02)

(from the Interview by Nicholas F. Mondello for All About Jazz)

It's been nearly four years since we last spoke to Herb Alpert. Now in his early 80s and about to go on tour performing with his wife, Lani Hall, Alpert continues to be a dynamic—and vital—force in both the music and art world. His philanthropic efforts on behalf the arts and music education are unparalleled and distinguish him as a true humanitarian.

All About Jazz: Herb, on behalf of All About Jazz, thanks for taking time.

Herb Alpert: Thank you. Always great speaking with you, Nick.

AAJ: First off, how are you and Lani doing musically?

HA: We're good. We're about to go out on tour. We're now doing about 50 performances a year.

AAJ: As a trumpet player, I have to ask you: How are your chops?

HA: Better than ever.

AAJ: Great. OK, let's talk about the May 13 event in New York when the 25th Anniversary of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts will take place at the Caldwell Factory. In that quarter century, there have been 125 HAIA award recipients.

HA: Yes, that's correct. There are awards given each year in five disciplines—music, dance, theater, film/video and visual arts.

AAJ: How did this effort all start?

HA: On an idea, you know. I just had an idea that it would be nice to do something because the National Endowment for the Arts sort of closed their doors. They stopped honoring the artists.

Read the full interview here


Joanna Haigood (HAA Dance 1998) is the founding Artistic Director of Zaccho Dance Theatre.

(San Francisco, CA) This October, Zaccho Dance Theatre brings the dreams and aspirations of local Bayview Hunters Point residents to life in a new, full-length work entitled Picture Bayview Hunters Point, with free performances over two weekends October 11-14 and 18-21, 2018. This interdisciplinary, site-specific performance centered in, on, and around the historic Bayview Opera House is a celebration of the community in which Zaccho has made its home for the past 28 years and a response to the economic and demographic changes impacting the neighborhood.

Conceived and directed by Zaccho Artistic Director Joanna Haigood in collaboration with video artist Mary Ellen Strom and composer Walter Kitundu, Picture Bayview Hunters Point incorporates high angle aerial choreography with video and sound recording gathered from a series of events and interviews with area residents conducted by the lead artists over the course of a year. The performance, in six sections, reveals personal histories of migration and moments of resistance and offers a collage of community voices expressing hopes and aspirations for Bayview Hunters Point.

Contributing performing artists include José Abad, Alex Allan, Lydia Clinton, Delvin Friñon, Antoine Hunter, Azraa Muhammad, Jarrel Phillips, Adonis Damian Martin Quiñones, Aliyah Dunn-Salahuddin, Sonya Smith, Helen Wicks, and musician Martin Luther McCoy.

“I am honored to have had this opportunity to create a performance in the community where I have worked and grown as an artist,” says Joanna Haigood, Zaccho’s founding Artistic Director. “I have heard so many extraordinary stories and have been deeply touched by the generosity of so many in Bayview Hunters Point. I am looking forward to presenting a work that reflects the beauty, strength, and wisdom that this community has nurtured despite its many challenges.”

Picture Bayview Hunters Point is the culmination of a multi-city project realized over the past eighteen years. It marks the completion of a trilogy which began with Picture Powerhorn (2000), commissioned by the Walker Art Center at the Marquette Grain Terminal in Minneapolis and Picture Red Hook (2002), commissioned by Dancing in the Streets at the Port Authority Grain Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Each of the three communities, although extremely unique in their character, experience similar social and economic challenges common to inner city communities, but are also home to many extraordinary people and organizations working to realize their vision of a positive future. As urban development has begun to expand into these communities, many residents are now at risk of being displaced. Haigood’s question in the face of this was, “If a community had control and unlimited resources to develop organically, what would its future look like?”

Planning for Picture Bayview Hunters Point began in early 2017 with initial artists meetings and the formation of an advisory Community Council whose members include local artists, activists, and youth. Zaccho, together with the work’s collaborating artists and the nonprofit social enterprise and video production organization BAYCAT, documented local histories and the community’s vision through a series of special events, interviews, and youth programs and has incorporated these elements into the final performances, along with archival material from Found SF.

All performances are free and open to the public. Picture Bayview Hunters Point takes place at the Bayview Opera House, 4705 3rd St., San Francisco, CA. For more information and to register for performances, visit Post-show discussion panels will be held Saturday, October 13 and Friday, October 19 with lifelong community residents, Memliek Walker and Toni Carpenter, and moderated by San Francisco City College African American Studies Chair Aliyah Dunn-Salahuddin.

Picture Bayview Hunters Point is made possible through generous support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Foundation, California Arts Council, Surdna Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the MAP Fund, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, California Humanities, the W Fund, and Zaccho's generous individual donors.

About Zaccho Dance Theatre

Founded in 1980, Zaccho Dance Theatre creates and presents performance work that investigates dance as it relates to place. Artistic Director Joanna Haigood’s creative work focuses on making dances that use natural, architectural, and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Haigood’s innovative work involves in-depth research into the history and character of sites, often involving local communities in the creative process, and typically integrates aerial flight and suspension as ways of expanding performer’ spatial and dynamic range.

In addition to its performances locally, nationally, and internationally, Zaccho provides arts education programs in school, after school and in partnership with community organizations in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco.

About the Bayview Opera House

Founded in 1989 to manage programs from the historic 1888 South San Francisco Opera House, Bayview Opera House, Inc. (BVOH) is a 501 (c) (3) organization with a mission to serve as the focal point of art and culture in the Bayview Hunters Point community by providing accessible, diverse, and high-quality arts education, cultural programs, and community events in a safe environment. BVOH highlights the culture and struggle of the African American community in Bayview Hunters Point in the last 50 years.


Herb Alpert Award Artist Cauleen Smith (Film/Video 2016)

Through films, objects, and installation, Give It or Leave It offers an emotional axis by which to navigate four distinct universes: Alice Coltrane and her ashram, a 1966 photo shoot by Bill Ray at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, Noah Purifoy and his desert assemblages, and black spiritualist Rebecca Cox Jackson and her Shaker community. These locations, while not technically utopian societies, embody sites of historical speculation and radical generosity between artist and community. In reimagining a future through this mix, Smith casts a world that is black, feminist, spiritual, and unabashedly alive.

The attempts referenced by Smith do not turn their backs on the here and now. Each effort, in its own way, embedded gestures of self-realization in current events and social publics. Building upon this, each exploration served as antidote to a pervasive hopelessness perceived in American society. This defiantly aspirational energy drives the exhibition. As an idiom, “give it or leave it,”mutates the coercive attitude behind,”take it or leave it.” Smith’s recast proposes a liberating rule for a better world—creating, offering, and gifting, regardless of a gesture’s recognition, acceptance, or rejection. In this refusal to summon a reaction, one surrenders to possibilities of generosity, hospitality, and a collective destiny. Give It or Leave It calls to the self, refusing to issue an ultimatum that demands another’s response.


Reading List
Monument Eternal by Franya J. Berkman
Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Cox Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress by Jean McMahon Humez
‘World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’, by Luaka Bop Records

2018 Herb Alpert Award winners announced!

The Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2018:

"For five midcareer pros working in film/video, dance, music, theater and visual art, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is a remarkable prize: $75,000 to use at a time when work is often poised to go in exciting or even radical new directions.

The Herb Alpert Foundation on Thursday announced the winners for 2018, the 24th year the awards, which are administered by California Institute of the Arts, have been handed out. The winners are choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili, filmmaker Arthur Jafa, composer and pianist Courtney Bryan, playwright Robert O'Hara and interdisciplinary artist Michael Rakowitz."


The MacArthur Foundation announced it's list of 2017 Fellows today, including Herb Alpert Award Artist Taylor Mac!



“We are delighted to celebrate the Herb Alpert Award’s 23rd anniversary,” says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “Each year the Award recognizes five visionary mid-career artists who expand their fields as well as our horizons. We believe that championing the arts, individual artists, and arts education – from early childhood through professional development – has profound social, cultural, and personal impact. This is at the core of the Foundation’s interests.”

“It’s particularly meaningful at this divisive moment to honor and support this year’s winners who are rigorous in their reach, alert to the world, and make community as much as they make art,“ says Irene Borger, Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. She describes why they were chosen by the 2017 panelists:

“The Dance panel was thrilled to select choreographer luciana achugar, for her exciting, anarchic artistry, her big vision, her capacity to visualize and enact pleasure and beauty in the transcendent body, unflinching willingness to look at socio-political concerns and how they impact individuals, and no less than the creation of pagan experiences and ‘new rituals.’”

DANCE Panelists: Olga Garay-English, Ralph Lemon, Carla Peterson

“The Film/Video panel honors artist Kerry Tribe, for her fearlessness in rethinking and readdressing social issues, her ability to make surprising and moving connections, for her demanding, pleasurable, transformative, and accessible work. They value her empathetic, generous and rare ability to immerse her audiences in new ways of seeing the world.”

FILM/VIDEO Panelists: Erin Christovale, Stephen Gong, Leslie Thornton

“Composer Eve Beglarian was chosen as the winner in Music for her prolific, engaging, and surprising body of work, her deep engagement with different communities, her dedication to continuing to make experimental work outside the canon, and her risk taking in both music and life with no separation between these spheres.”

MUSIC Panelists: John King, Tania León, Nicole Mitchell

“Director Daniel Fish was selected by the Theatre panel for his mesmerizing, bold complex imagination, his steadfast commitment to the art of possibility, the ways he unceasingly questions what theatre might be, his amplification of ideas through his independent artistic explorations, and for his dedication to widening the forms for performance, enlarging ones experience in American theatre.”

THEATRE Panelists: Kristy Edmunds, Tom Sellar, Meiyin Wang

“Artist Amy Franceschini was named the Visual Arts prize winner for her brave, ethical important cross-disciplinary work that grapples with critical issues of human survival, for her prescient intergenerational and transnational vision, her theoretical and conceptual reach and real-world applications, and for her engaged and collaborative citizenship.”

VISUAL ARTS Panelists: Emily Jacir, Joan Simon, Claire Tancons  


Short film on the Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts

Herb Alpert Foundation media requests, contact:
Caroline Graham, C4 Global Communications | 310 899 2727 |


“We are delighted to celebrate the Herb Alpert Award’s 23rd anniversary,” says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “Each year the Award recognizes five visionary mid-career artists who expand their fields as well as our horizons. We believe that championing the arts, individual artists, and arts education – from early childhood through professional development – has profound social, cultural, and personal impact. This is at the core of the Foundation’s interests.”


Olga Garay-English, independent arts consultant, Los Angeles

Ralph Lemon, artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Brooklyn, NY  

Carla Peterson, director, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Tallahassee, FL


Erin Christovale, curator, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Black Radical Imagination, Los Angeles  

Stephen Gong, executive director, Center for Asian American Media, San Francisco  

Leslie Thornton, artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, New York


John King, composer, Herb Alpert Award winner, New York

Tania León, composer-conductor, founder and artistic director, Composers Now, Nyack, NY

Nicole Mitchell, composer, improviser, Herb Alpert Award winner, Long Beach, CA


Kristy Edmunds, executive and artistic director, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Los Angeles 

Tom Sellar, editor, Theater magazine, and professor, Yale School of Drama, New Haven, CT and Brooklyn, NY 

Meiyin Wang, curator and producer, Berkeley, CA


Emily Jacir, artist, Herb Alpert Award winner, Rome, Italy and Bethlehem, Palestine

Joan Simon, independent curator, writer, arts administrator, Santa Monica, CA

Claire Tancons, curator, writer, researcher based in New Orleans, works in situ





The Herb Alpert Foundation commissioned an extraordinary short film about the prize and the people it has touched. Take a look!

“We are proud to celebrate the 22nd Anniversary of Herb Alpert Award in the Arts,” says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “Each year the Award recognizes five extraordinary innovative mid–career artists who consistently take creative risks. Our work at the Foundation supports programs that offer arts education from early childhood through professional development based on the belief that each of us has a unique voice that can be explored through the arts and have personal transformation as well as societal impact.”

2016 Herb Alpert Award Panelists
Nora Chipaumire, choreographer, performer, 2012 Herb Alpert Award Winner, New York
Joanna Haigood, artistic director, Zaccho Dance Theatre, 1998 Herb Alpert Award Winner, San Francisco
Louise Steinman, writer/curator, ALOUD series, Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Romi Crawford, associate professor, Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Alex Juhasz, professor of Media Studies, Pitzer College, Pasadena, CA
Astria Suparak, curator and artist, Pittsburgh, PA
Adam Fong, composer, and co–founder, Center for New Music, San Francisco
Myra Melford, composer, 2012 Herb Alpert Award Winner, professor, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Francisco Nuñez, conductor, composer, director, Young People’s Chorus of New York City, New York
Maria Goyanes, associate producer, The Public Theater, New York
Gideon Lester, director of Theatre Programs, Bard College, Annandale–on–Hudson, NY
Angela Mattox, artistic director, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), Portland, OR
Helen Molesworth, chief curator, MOCA, Los Angeles
Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Emily Zimmerman, associate curator of Programs, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

Congrats to choreographer Michelle Dorrance, 9th Herb Alpert Award Artist to become MacArthur Fellow! Natalia Almada ('11), Carrie Mae Weems ('96), George Lewis ('99), Kerry James Marshall ('97), Pepón Osorio ('99), Steve Coleman ('00), Suzan-Lori Parks ('96), Vijay Iyer ('03).

Congratulations too 2012 Alpert/UCROSS recipient La Toya Frazier.

Congratulations to artists Jesse McLean, Richard Montoya, Julie Murray, and Rodrigo Reyes for being selected as Alpert/MacDowell Fellows. Fellows receive a month at the MacDowell Colony and a $750.00 stipend from the Herb Alpert program.
Founded in 1907 and situated on 450 woodland acres in Peterborough, New Hampshire, the MacDowell Colony, the most distinguished and oldest artist colony in America, is known for the talent and mix of its artists. Fellows include architects, composers, film and video makers, writers and interdisciplinary and visual artists. There are 32 private studios assigned according to the work proposed.

Click here for the full article.

"The winners represent a kind of adventurousness," says awards director Irene Borger. "One of the questions I ask of the jury is, 'What makes you curious? What's interesting? ... And for whom will the prize make a difference?'"

April 30, 2015
Santa Monica — The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will award the 21st Annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts to five exceptional mid–career artists, presented at a lunch hosted by the Herb Alpert Foundation in Santa Monica on May 1st 2015.
Herb Alpert said of the 2015 HAAIA winners, “It’s exciting to be able to support these five unique artists who are always on the hunt for something they don’t yet know, something real that touches us in a deep place. Whether they are writing a concerto, making a film, an installation, a ruckus or a dance, they always look for something special and original to say. These are artists with the passion, talent and the restlessness that never makes them stop. They HAVE TO make art not just for themselves… but for all of US.
The awards recognize past performance and future promise to artists working in Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts; an outstanding candidate in each genre receives a prize of $75,000.
“We are delighted to celebrate the winners of The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts,” says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “Now in its 21st year, the program honors and supports five innovative and courageous mid–career artists, chosen for their vital work which embodies the transformative power of the arts. We look forward to their continued explorations and success.”
The California Institute of the Arts, more commonly referred to as CalArts, has administered the awards since their inception. CalArts President Steven D. Lavine said, “Nothing is more precious for artists than the gift of time to dive deeply into their work. But art is also almost always about generosity and sharing. The Herb Alpert Awards generously underwrite that creative time as well as the weeklong residency that each artist does at CalArts, allowing the Herb Alpert recipients to share generously with the next generation of art makers.”
“Each of this year’s winners makes us stop, draw on our own vulnerability, and extend our thinking,” says Irene Borger, Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. She describes why the 2015 winners were chosen.
Maria Hassabi, for changing the nature of spectatorship, for challenging conventional ideas about performance, for stripping away busyness and the ornamentation of dancing to allow for rare contemplative experience.
Sharon Lockhart, for her films which combine structural rigor, formal exactitude, exquisite beauty, intimate attention, commitment to a cinema of duration, and a sympathetic ethnographic eye in a post–minimalist aesthetic entirely her own.
Julia Wolfe, for her fresh, uncompromising artistry, her vibrant, direct, and emotionally powerful works generous and bold in spirit and her engagement with socially conscious issues, a tradition that is passionately and unapologetically American to the core.
Taylor Mac, for his fierce, disarming, beautiful, transgressive, emotionally vulnerable work; for social critique disguised as glitter, ambitious scope, and for effervescently rearranging audiences perceptions while creating a great time.
Tania Bruguera, for the complexity, longevity, and urgency of her work, for her strong formal clarity and ongoing contribution to international conversations on freedom of speech and illegal immigration. The panel honors her for her commitment to resisting market pressures in order to seek an ethics of what art can do, and recognize the innovative ways she has reinvented the language of activism within contemporary culture.
For more information about the Awards, please visit:
Herb Alpert Foundation media requests, contact:
Caroline Graham, C4 Global Communications | 310 899 2727 |



Congratulations, Miya!


The single most important thing that you can do to develop a more sophisticated musical ear is to work on melody and rhythm memory.

The following exercise will help with melody memory and eventually allow you to enjoy listening to music with improved perception for melodic detail.  This is the familiar song that little children sing when expressing one-upmanship while playing a game with friends.  The syllables are expressed in relative pitch (and height) to each other.





















If any of you are musicians or have a musical instrument at hand you can use the following pitches.





















Assume that the five syllables are numbered 1 through 5.  Try memorizing the pitches (and the corresponding numbers), then try singing them in the following sequences:

2  1  3  4  5

5  4  3  2  1

2  1  2  3

2  1  3

2  3  2  3  4

2  1  2  1  3  3  2

...and any other combination that you can think of.

Try this with a friend:  Sing one of the above pitch orders and have the friend tell you the corresponding numbers.  In this case the person singing should try to 'hear' the melody in your head and memorize the corresponding numbers before you sing it.

Also try using different rhythms.


Herb Alpert Award Artists to Show Films at the NY Film Festival October 3, 2014.

Deborah Stratman ('14)

Kevin Jerome Everson ('12)

Jacqueline Goss ('07)

Read our press release!

Watch one of a kind interviews with the 2014 Herb Alpert Artists.

Michelle Dorrance

Matana Roberts

Annie Dorsen

Daniel Joseph Martinez

Congratulations to Grisha Coleman (Dance), Taylor Mac (Th), Sean San Jose (Th), Matthew Porterfield (F/V) and Chris Sullivan (F/V)

The Herb Alpert Foundation hosted their annual award lunch on Friday, May 9th. — Santa Monica, California
R: Michelle Dorrance, Matana Roberts, Deborah Stratman, Herb Alpert, Lani Hall Alpert, Annie Dorsen, Daniel Joseph Martinez
(Photo by: Matt Sayles/Invision for The Herb Alpert Foundation/AP Images)

The Herb Alpert Award was initiated and funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and has been administered by California Institute of the Arts since 1994. During their prize year, Herb Alpert Award winners spend at least one week in residence at CalArts. Some - including playwrights Suzan-Lori Parks and Carl Hancock Rux, and composer Anne LeBaron - have returned as full-time faculty. Dean of CalArts' Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts Stephan Koplowitz first came to CalArts after winning the 2004 Herb Alpert Award in Dance.


"All Vows," directed and written by Bill Morrison ('06), co-written by Michael Gordon.

New York Premiere, Opening at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Click here to view trailer.

Visual Arts

Take a closer look at web, sound, and film projects by Alpert Artists Christian Marclay ('02) and Michael Smith ('12), now available online: 

Visual Arts

Adam Simon from Bomb Magazine interviews Alpert Artist Byron Kim ('08) about portraiture and how to find something in nothing.

Read more here.


Alpert Artist Julia Rhoads' ('13)  Lucky Plush performs at the Loeb Playhouse February 7th at 8pm.

“a visually, kinetically, sonically and intellectually dazzling piece of dance theater” - Chicago Sun Times

Click here to buy tickets

“a visually, kinetically, sonically and intellectually dazzling piece of dance theater” (Chicago Sun Times) - See more at:

Alpert Artist Carl Hancock Rux ('03) has been invited by Alpert Artist Carrie Mae Weems ('96) to participate in her retrospective at the Guggenheim April 25-27th.

Weems brings with her artists she says have "broadened the path that has made me who I am and my work possible".

The three day celebration will include film, video, performance, projected realities, interviews, panels, poetry, music and more.

Visual Arts

Alpert Artist Carrie Mae Weems ('96) talks about race, gender and her deserved recognition in ELLE Magazine. 


Big Ten Theatre Consortium commisions Alpert Artist Naomi Iizuka ('05) for the New Play Initiative.

Visual Arts

Alpert Artist Cai Guo-Qiang ('01) features a solo exhibition, "Falling Back to Earth", at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Australia. 

For the first time ever, all 3,000 square meters of GOMA’s ground floor have been dedicated to an exhibition of work by a single living artist.

Visual Arts

"Her love of our city comes through her photographs and I'm excited to have her images welcome visitors to L.A. and Angelenos back home." -LATimes

Alpert Artist Catherine Opie ('03) takes new photographs of Eric Garcetti for LAX. 


Herb Alpert Award Artist Butch Morris ('06)

February 10, 1947 - January 29, 2013

A Tribute To The Music of Lawrence D. 'Butch' Morris | James Blood Ulmer + David Murray Octet Present | France 11/30/13

"...Is there a space outside of the elite museum archive, and outside of the rapid and massive digital repertoire, where one can practice contemplation in the spirit of nonownership, and where play isn’t professionalized (another job)?"

Herb Alpert Award Artist Myra Melford: Language of Dreams

Fri-Sat, Nov 8-9, 8 PM
YBCA Forum

Click here to watch a video featuring Myra.

A congratulations to the following Alpert Artists for their nominations in:

Outstanding Revived Work: Donna Uchizono  ('05) for "State of Heads"

Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design: Nora Chipaumire's ('12) choreography for "Miriam"

Outstanding Productions (of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form): Joanna Haigood ( '98 ) for "Paseo" and Marc Bamuthi Joseph ( '11) for "red, black, & GREEN: a blues"

The 29th Annual Bessie Awards took place October 7, 2013 at 8:00pm at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City.


This month, Nature Theater of Oklahoma (Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska) is presenting Life and Times Episodes 4.5 & 5 as part of its acclaimed Crossing the Line 2013 festival in New York.

A three-minute clip from Episode 4.5 will be shown simultaneously across 15 electronic billboards in Times Square as part of Midnight Moment. The video will play every night throughout September from 11:57 p.m. - midnight.


The 2013 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award
winners and nominees:

Outstanding Revived Work: Donna Uchizono  (AAIA '05) for "State of Heads"

Outstanding Productions (of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form): Joanna Haigood (AAIA '98 ) for "Paseo" and Marc Bamuthi Joseph (AAIA '11) for "red, black, & GREEN: a blues"

Read more here.

John Kelly (AAIA Dance '01) unveils a new cycle of covers.

Read more.



Congratulations to Dan Hurlin (AAIA in Theatre '04) winner of the 2013-14 Jesse Howard, Jr. Rome Prize.

To read.


To Read


Congratulations to:

Eisa Davis (AAIA '12) for receiving the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance

Nature Theater of Oklahoma (AAIA '13) for their Special Citation for Life and Times: Episodes 1-4  

Lisa D'Amour (AAIA '08 ) Best New American Play: Detroit


Click here to read more on the 2013 Obie Awards Announcement.

2013 Alpert Award in the Arts winners with Herb and Lani Alpert.

(L to R: Lani Alpert, Alex Mincek, Sharon Hayes, Herb Alpert, Kelly Copper, Julia Rhoads, Pavol Liska, Lucien Castaing-Taylor)

Artists with extraordinary talent win the $75,000 Alpert Award in the Arts for Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theater and Visual Arts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Santa Monica, May 10, 2013:

The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) have awarded the 19th annual Alpert Award in the Arts to six exceptional mid-career artists. The award, a prize of $75,000,recognizes past performance and future promise to artists working in Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts. Herb Alpert, the legendary musician and artist who created the Herb Alpert Foundation with his wife Lani Hall and gave the first Alpert Award in the Arts in 1995, says, “All of this year’s winners represent the essence of the Alpert Award. They take aesthetic, intellectual and political risks, and challenge worn-out conventions. They’re unafraid of the unknown.”

The 2013 Winners are:

Julia Rhoads, Dance: choreographer, director, performer; Chicago, IL
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Film/Video: anthropologist, artist, filmmaker; Cambridge, MA
Alex Mincek, Music: composer and saxophonist; New York, NY
Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska, Theatre: directors of Nature Theater of Oklahoma; New York, NY
Sharon Hayes, Visual Arts: artist and performer; New York, NY

Irene Borger, Director of the Alpert Award in the Arts, describes why each of the 2013 artists was chosen.

“The Film/Video panel selected anthropologist, artist, and filmmaker Lucien Castaing-Taylor, for his visceral, emotionally engaging, aesthetically rigorous, and spiritually moving work, and for his defiance of genre categorization through documenting our world with a spirit of experimentation and adventure.”

“The Theatre panel is honoring co-directors Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska for the scale of their theatrical ambition, their aesthetic innovation, and the way they systematically challenge and reinvent their artistic identity with each project. They admire the joyful play, formal rigor, and transcendence that marks Nature Theater of Oklahoma's work.”

“Artist and performer Sharon Hayes was named the winner of the Visual Arts prize for they way her collaborative processes embody the Alpert Award's dedication to engagement and generosity. Her commitment to giving voice to others, and reflections on the nature of history, and the power of public voice are provocative and timely.”

“Composer and saxophonist Alex Mincek was honored with the Music Award for creating a sound world at once original and informed, for his searching spirit combined with solid accomplishment, and, with his fresh and diverse mix of influences, creating a musical space relevant to the moment.”

Julia Rhoads, choreographer, director, performer, is being recognized by the Dance panel for the unique hybrid of theater and post-modern dance, and mesmerizing, thought-provoking, full-throttle dancing made in service of witty and engaging works that confront issues of gender, violence, class, sexuality, and issues of ownership and appropriation in the digital age.”

Over the years the distinguished Alpert Award panelists have selected a group of artists who have gone on to extraordinary careers after winning the Alpert Award including Zhou Long, 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner in Music; Suzan-Lori Parks, a Pulitzer winner for Drama 2002; four MacArthur Fellows and 22Guggenheim Fellows.


Ann Carlson*, choreographer/individual artist; Palo Alto, CA
Wendy Perron, editor-in-chief, Dance Magazine; New York, NY
David Rousseve*, artistic director, David Rousseve Reality; professor of choreography, World Arts and Cultures/Dance, University of California; Los Angeles, CA

Margarita De la Vega-Hurtado, independent film person; Houston, TX
Bill Morrison*, filmmaker; New York, NY
Astria Suparak, director and curator, Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA

Edmund Campion, composer, University of California, Berkeley; co-director, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies; Berkeley, CA
Mary Ellen Childs, composer; Minneapolis, MN
Anthony Davis, composer, University of California; San Diego, CA

Kim Euell, playwright and dramaturg-at-large; Iowa City, IA
Gideon Lester, director of Theatre Programs, Bard College; Co-curator, Crossing the Line Festival; New York, NY
Eric Ting, director and associate artistic director, Long Wharf Theatre; New Haven, CT

Paul Ha, director, MIT List Visual Arts Center; Cambridge, MA
Kay Larson, art critic and author, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists; Accord, NY
Lawrence Rinder, director, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Berkeley, CA

*Past Alpert Award winners

“The Herb Alpert Foundation is delighted to honor these courageous, independently minded artists,” said Foundation President Rona Sebastian. “Begun in 1995, on the heels of the NEA’s cut backs of individual artists’ grants, the Alpert Award was designed to acknowledge the importance of our artists and their significant contributions to society. CalArts has been the ideal partner to carry out Herb Alpert’s vision for building a new and innovative arts award program. CalArts shares our vision of the transformative power of the arts.”

“The awards recognize that a vital culture requires artistic experimentation on the highest level,” said CalArts President Steven Lavine. “A remarkable number of awardees have achieved heightened prominence during the years following the awards and this is due to the foundation’s continued acknowledgement and support of truly significant artists. Moreover, year in and year out, CalArts students benefit when these exemplary artists come to campus for the residence that is a component of the awards.”

Herb Alpert concludes, “CalArts is a really creative place where people push the edges and come up with things that are different from what we’ve seen and heard in the past. It’s exciting to think about how winners of the Alpert Award will push CalArts students even farther.”

The Alpert Award in the Arts recipients will receive their awards at a brunch on May 10th held at the Herb Alpert Foundation in Santa Monica. For more information about the Awards, please visit:

2013 Alpert Award in the Arts press photographs:

Lucien Castaing-Taylor's film, "Leviathan," is opening in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills on Friday, May 10th. Lucien will be doing a Q&A at the 7:30 pm screening.
Laemmle Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211

CalArts media requests, contact: Margaret Crane, CalArts Media Relations Manager, Tel: 310 899 2727

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2013 Alpert Award winners AND a nifty new website!

Huge congratulations to Alpert Awardees - Miya Masaoka (Music, ‘04); Pat Graney (Dance, ‘08); Lisa D’Amour (Theatre, ‘08); and Myra Melford (Music, ‘12) - winners of the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards!

Herb Alpert Award Artist Bill Morrison ('06), premiers “Re: Awakenings” at the Live Ideas Festival April 18-21, 2013 in New York City. Click here for more details.


Herb Alpert Award Artist ('96) Su Friedrich’s movie “Gut Renovation,” which documents the transformation and gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn is featured in the New York Times.

Saluting Butch Morris

To find my expression as contribution to, and continuum in, music, I initially turned to notation and improvisation. How could I overcome the differences between them? I began by locating their common ground. Then, with the values I held–spontaneity, momentum, combustion, ignition and propulsion (the essence of swing)–I returned to fundamentals to identify how all traditions could coexist; that is, for improvisers to improvise and for interpreters to interpret the “same material.” I see Conduction® as a bridge between, and a supplement to, notation, interpretation, improvisation, and musicianship, giving greater latitude to each. My goals are, as always, to answer the questions that Conduction® raises as an expressive medium in culture, community, art and education, and to find the Primus of the Spirit in a new social logic.”


Congratulations to David Dunn, Herb Alpert Award winner in Music ‘05, for receiving the 2013 Foundation for Contemporary Arts prize. 


The New Yorker magazine cites Herb Alpert Award Artist Susan Rethorst’s (Dance ‘10) new book, A Choreographic Mind, as one of the Best of 2012! Congratulations, Susan.

Short excerpts from A Choreographic Mind, can be found at:

Congratulations to Alpert winners Coco Fusco (Film/Video ‘03) Jackie Goss (Film/Video ‘07), and John Kelly (Dance ‘01) who have just received USA Artists awards for 2012!


Announcement: Herb Alpert Award Artist Kevin Jerome Everson ('12) will be screening his film ‘Century’ at the AFI Film Festival, November 4th at 9:30pm and the 7th at 6:45pm at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

He will also be presenting a suite of his short films in the Los Angeles Filmforum at the MOCA: “Impulse to Archive” show, November 8th at 7pm.


Congratulations to filmmaker and Herb Alpert Award Artist, Natalia Almada, a new 2012 MacArthur Fellow!

The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Announce the 2012 winners of the Alpert Award in the Arts.

Artists with extraordinary talent win the $75,000 Alpert Award in the Arts for Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theater and Visual Arts.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Santa Monica, May 11, 2012: The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) have awarded the 18th annual Alpert Award in the Arts to five exceptional mid-career artists. The award, a prize of $75,000, recognizes past performance and future promise to artists working in Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts. Herb Alpert, the legendary musician and artist who created the Herb Alpert Foundation with his wife Lani Hall and gave the first Alpert Award in the Arts in 1995, says, “All of this year’s winners represent the essence of the Alpert Award. They take aesthetic, intellectual and political risks, and challenge worn-out conventions. They’re unafraid of the unknown.”

The 2012 Winners are: Nora Chipaumire, Dance Eisa Davis, Theatre Kevin Everson, Film/Video Myra Melford, Music Michael Smith, Visual Arts.

Irene Borger, Director of the Alpert Award in the Arts, describes why each of the artists was chosen.

“The Film/Video panel selected Kevin Everson, a prolific polymath, for his relentlesscuriosity, sustained inquiry, for elevating the visual power of expressive quotidian gestures of working people, and for his aesthetic caring gaze.

Nora Chipaumire is being recognized by the Dance panel for her profound movement intelligence, steaming hot and extraordinary presence, the dialogue she creates with audiences, and her visceral struggles with critical issues of the day.

Myra Melford was honored with the Music Award for her ascending and expansive trajectory, and great, generous musical mind. They celebrate her willingness to dive into the deep end of the pool and her ability to take multiple musical traditions into another sphere.

Michael Smith was named the winner of the Visual Arts prize for subversively using the visual languages of popular and corporate culture to take on big issues, for pioneering narrative within video art practice, and for rendering the everyday as truly strange. They appreciate his having taken on the role of picaresque hero moving through the world as a Charlie Chaplin of the late 20th century.

The Theatre panel selected Eisa Davis for her profound multiple gifts as playwright, performer and musician, her portrayal of the complex richness of our American character, and her work’s relevance and epic sweep, expanding our notion of how one might live in the 21st Century.”

Over the years the distinguished Alpert Award panelists have selected a group of artists who have gone on to extraordinary careers after winning the Alpert Award including Zhou Long, 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner in Music; Suzan-Lori Parks, a Pulitzer winner for Drama 2002; four MacArthur Fellows and 22 Guggenheim Fellows.

This year’s panelists include Alma Guillermoprieto, contributor to The New Yorker; Romi Crawford, Associate Professor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; David Wessel, Professor of Music and Director, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at University of California, Berkeley; Daniel Alexander Jones, Head of the Playwriting Program; Acting and Theatre History Faculty, Fordham University; and David Joselit, Carnegie Professor, History of Art, Yale University. Past panelists have included Tony Kushner, Julie Taymor, John Adams, Trisha Brown, Don Byron, Ann Hamilton, and David Henry Hwang.

“The Herb Alpert Foundation is delighted to honor these courageous, independently minded artists,” said Foundation President Rona Sebastian. “Begun in 1995, on the heels of the NEA’s cut backs of individual artists’ grants, the Alpert Award was designed to acknowledge the importance of our artists and their significant contributions to society. CalArts has been the ideal partner to carry out Herb Alpert’s vision for building a new and innovative arts award program. CalArts shares our vision of the transformative power of the arts.”

“The awards recognize that a vital culture requires artistic experimentation on the highest level,” said CalArts President Steven Lavine. “A remarkable number of awardees have achieved heightened prominence during the years following the awards and this is due to the foundation’s continued acknowledgement and support of truly significant artists. Moreover, year in and year out, CalArts students benefit when these exemplary artists come to campus for the residence that is a component of the awards.”

Herb Alpert concludes, “CalArts is a really creative place where people push the edges and come up with things that are different from what we’ve heard in the past.

It’s exciting to think about how winners of the Alpert Award will push CalArts students even farther.”

The Alpert Award in the Arts recipients will receive their awards at a brunch on May 11th held at the Herb Alpert Foundation in Santa Monica.

For more information about the Awards, please visit:

Photographs of the 2012 Alpert Award In the Arts recipients can be accessed at:

CalArts media requests, contact: Margaret Crane, CalArts Media Relations Manager, Tel: 661 222 2787

Herb Alpert Foundation media requests, contact: Caroline Graham, C4 Global Communications, Tel: 310 899 2727