SANTA MONICA, CALIF.: The Herb Alpert Foundation will present the 28th annual Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts (HAAIA) to 10 mid-career artists from the disciplines of dance, film/video, music, visual arts, and theatre, including theatremakers Aleshea Harris and Virginia Grise. Founded by husband-and-wife musicians Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, the awards come with $75,000 unrestricted prizes and residencies at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts).
“The generosity of Herb and Lani is legendary,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan in a statement. “And their work supporting artists to take risks, through the Alpert Awards, has propelled artmaking in this country for decades. The list of past honorees is testament to how the award gives artists the space and time to create work that transforms the world.”
The award aims to recognize risk-taking, experimental artists who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. The winners were evaluated by 3-person panels composed of 15 highly regarded leaders in the arts. The three theatre panelists were Erik Ehn, Maria Manuela Goyanes, and Lloyd Suh.
The panel noted Harris’s “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.”
Grise was praised by evaluators 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.”
Aleshea Harris is an American playwright, spoken word artist, author, educator, actor, performer, and screenwriter. Her play Is God Is won the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award in 2016, an OBIE Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her work What to Send Up When It Goes Down, a play-pageant-ritual response to anti-Blackness, had its successful NYC premiere with the Movement Theatre Company in November 2018.
Virginia Grise is a playwright, director, and interdisciplinary artist. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me, blu, The Panza Monologues (co-written with Irma Mayorga), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations With Don Durito. Grise is a recipient of the Yale Drama Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, and the Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights Center. In addition to plays, she has devised interdisciplinary work that includes multimedia performance, dance theatre, performance installations, guerilla theatre, site-specific interventions, and community gatherings.
The 28th HAAIA awards celebration will be held virtually on May 4 at 2 p.m. PST. CalArts will administer the prizes on behalf of the foundation.
The Herb Alpert Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation located in Santa Monica, Calif. Since its inception in 1985, the Foundation has been dedicated to championing and investing in the arts, primarily arts education with a focus on jazz, and providing support to professionals. The HAAIA has been awarded to 140 artists since 1994, and the foundation has given more than $200 million dollars in funding to support the arts and arts education programs. As of 2019, the Herb Alpert Foundation had a budget of $16.7 million.
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