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Legacy Gifts

The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts

New York Times | Published 2014

The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is an unrestricted prize of $75,000 given annually to five risk-taking mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts.

2016 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts Recipients with Herb Alpert, Lani Hall Alpert, Irene Borger Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and Rona Sebastian President of the Herb Alpert Foundation | Photo: Francesco Da Vinci

The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts was initiated and is funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and has been administered by California Institute of the Arts since 1994. The Herb Alpert 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.

Artists are identified in three stages:

  1. 50 artists and arts professionals each nominate 2 artists.
  2. 100 nominated artists are invited to submit work samples.
  3. 5 three-person panels – Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts – each select one artist for the Award.

Nominators and panelists change yearly and are chosen for their knowledge of contemporary art practices, their integrity and aesthetic, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity.

Each year the one hundred nominated artists are invited to apply.

  • In Dance, the prize is given to choreographers, choreographer/performers, and performance artists creating movement-based work.
  • The Film/Video Award honors independent media artists working in film, video, multimedia, new technologies, and installation.
  • Composers and musician/composers are eligible for the prize in Music.
  • The Award in Theatre is given to playwrights, auteur directors, and performance artists creating text-based work.
  • Recipients in Visual Arts work in all media, performance, and conceptual forms.

Herb Alpert Award artists are curious, they wrestle with the given. From the beginning, the prize was viewed as a way to encourage artists to take risks.

An individual may receive the Award once, and in one category. Nominators, panelists and employees, officers, directors, trustees or relations of the aforementioned categories of The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts are ineligible for the Award while acting in these capacities. Recipient artists maintain their prime residency in the United States; they need not be U.S. citizens.