Foundation boosts amounts awarded to Alaska artists

Mike Dunham

The Rasmuson Foundation will substantially increase the amount of money distributed in individual artist awards to artists and art groups next year.

Starting in 2013, the foundation will give $7,500 for project awards, $16,000 for fellowships and $40,000 for the annual distinguished artist award. That's the first increase since the program began in 2004, when the awards were set at a maximum of $5,000, $12,000 and $25,000 respectively, said Cassandra Stalzer, the foundation's communications manager.

Project awards are given for a designated purpose, such as to help a sculptor pay for supplies or a help a writer attend a workshop. Fellowships are granted to established artists to help further their careers. A single distinguished artist award is presented to a major figure in Alaska art or literature each year.

The foundation's board of directors announced the increase on Thursday as part of an initiative to distribute $8.5 million to Alaska cultural institutions and artists over the next four years.

In the past 10 years, the foundation has made more than 900 grants to support artistic efforts by Alaska schools, community groups, painters, photographers, musicians, authors and masters of traditional crafts. Those grants have amounted to about $22 million, a figure that will increase to $30 million by 2016.

In addition to the individual artist awards, the foundation's donations to the arts will help support a variety of programs ranging from travel grants and art acquisition to artist residencies and arts in education initiatives.

A comprehensive list of grants at the foundation's website, -- including donations to health, social service, cultural and other purposes -- reports that 3,195 grants have been made since the foundation was started in 1955, amounting to a total of more than $238 million.

The number is a "best guess," said Stalzer. Previous grants have included money for building repairs, purchasing equipment and other capital costs, and categories have sometimes shifted or been redefined over the years.

The application period for the 2013 grants will open on Jan. 1. An online "webinar" to help those wishing to apply for individual artist awards will take place between 6 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 16, Stalzer said. Details will be available at the foundation's website and its Facebook page.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.