United States Artists (USA) believes in artists and their essential role in society. Each year, USA awards up to fifty $50,000 unrestricted Fellowships to the most compelling artists working and living in the United States, representing every demographic, and at every career stage. With this unrestricted award, recipients decide for themselves how to best use the money – whether it is creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, getting healthcare, or supporting their families.
In 2003, the Urban Institute conducted a study which revealed that 96% of Americans valued art in their lives, while only 27% valued artists.* Motivated by the study and in response to the NEA’s severe budget cuts, four inspiring leaders of the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations spearheaded the launch of an organization to illuminate the value of artists to American society and address their economic challenges. Originally established in Los Angeles by Founding CEO Katharine DeShaw in 2006, we moved our headquarters to Chicago in 2014 under the leadership of Carolina García Jayaram. In 2017, Deana Haggag was named President & CEO and today, we continue to operate from Chicago with some remote staff working from Baltimore and New York.
Since our founding, we have awarded more than 600 artists and cultural practitioners with over $30 million of direct support in all disciplines including Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing. With this unrestricted award, recipients decide for themselves how to best use the money – whether it is creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, getting healthcare, or supporting their families. To make our work possible, we actively fundraise each year and are supported by a broad range of philanthropic foundations, companies, and individuals committed to cultivating contemporary culture in the United States. Additionally, we work annually with select nominators, panelists, and our Board of Trustees to determine each year’s class of awardees. It is through the intersection of these relationships and in the spirit of collaboration that we are honored to support the country’s most compelling artists and cultural practitioners.
*From “Investing in Creativity: A Study for the Support Structure for U.S. Artists,” 2003.