Walder Foundation Announces $2.4 Million Support For Performing Artists In Music, Theater, Dance, And Interdisciplinary Performance With Launch Of Platform Awards

(MENAFN- PR Newswire) Twelve Chicagoland performing artists to each receive an unrestricted grant and professional development opportunities

CHICAGO, June 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Walder Foundation today announced it will award $2.4 million to performing artists through its inaugural platform Awards , which support accomplished Chicagoland mid-career music, theater, dance, and interdisciplinary performance artists who are enriching the city's creative and civic landscape through a commitment to honing their craft and meaningful community engagement. Twelve recipients will receive an unrestricted grant of $200,000 each paired with ongoing professional development and networking opportunities, deepening the Foundation's commitment to building a more equitable and sustainable cultural sector in Chicago. Walder Foundation has granted $17 million to performing artists and performing arts organizations since the Foundation was founded in 2018.

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The 2024 Platform Award recipients are: theater artists Lili-Anne Brown, Sandra Delgado, and Myra Su; dance artists Darrell Jones, Chief Manny (Brandon Calhoun), Vershawn Sanders-Ward, and Robyn Mineko Williams; music artists Lisa Kaplan, Sam Thousand, and Matthew Ulery; and interdisciplinary artists Brendan Fernandes and avery r. young.

"The Platform Awards uplift the work of outstanding mid-career performing artists enabling them to continue to grow and advance their careers, so that Chicago remains a thriving destination for the arts for generations to come," said Elizabeth Walder , President and Executive Director of Walder Foundation. "As a former touring musician, I understand the unique challenges facing performing artists; through the Walder Foundation's Platform Awards, we can provide the opportunity for performers to explore their practices and take risks with fewer financial burdens. By supporting these artists who are enriching their local communities, we aim to help shape a vibrant arts sector that continues to contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of our city."

In addition to receiving financial support through 2026, the Platform Award recipients will participate in regular professional development sessions designed to encourage career growth and address their pressing needs. Through workshops, talks from guest speakers, and mentorship, artists will engage with issues such as finances, retirement planning, marketing and public relations, and health and wellness.

"By creating this cohort, we are forging a network for ongoing support and cross-disciplinary collaboration that will have positive impacts on Chicago's entire creative community," said Meg Leary , Senior Program Director, Performing Arts & Operations. "These Awards address a vital funding gap in our region to further the work of mid-career performing artists who are engaging the greater Chicago community. We are excited to expand the Foundation's impact and amplify the City's significant contributions to the national and global performing arts landscape."

Artists were nominated by a group of 80 Chicago-based academics, field experts, and cultural leaders. Nominations were solicited for applicants who, in addition to their artistic accomplishments, incorporate community engagement as part of their artistic practice. Selected grantees reflect the city of Chicago across neighborhood, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and artistic practice and tradition.

Applications were reviewed and semifinalists were chosen by a national panel of established practicing artists who specialize in one or more performing arts disciplines and are based outside of the Chicago region. National panelists included: theater artists Sharon Bridgforth, Mary Kathryn Nagle, and Rosalba Rolón; dance artists Faye Driscoll, Bebe Miller, and Aparna Ramaswamy; music artists Jonathan Bailey Holland, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Shara Nova; and interdisciplinary focus artists Ann Carlson and Miya Masaoka.

A local panel then reviewed and selected a group of 20 finalists. Local panelists included: theater artist Dean Corrin; dance artists Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Reggio McLaughlin; music artists Mei-Ann Chen and Juan Díes; and interdisciplinary focus artists Dr. Mónica Félix and Lin Hixson.

Ultimately, the 12 Platform Award recipients were selected by Walder Foundation leadership and advisors, and the eight finalists each received a one-time grant of $5,000. The Platform Awards is a triennial grant program, and finalists will be automatically re-nominated for the next application cycle in 2026, provided they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

For more information on the Platform Awards and Walder Foundation's performing arts funding, visit the Platform Awards website and the Walder Foundation site .

About the
Walder Foundation

The Walder Foundation was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation champions Chicago through five areas of focus: science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life.

About the Walder Foundation's
Performing Arts Program
The Walder Foundation's Performing Arts program supports working artists and cultural laborers' ability to thrive within an equitable, sustainable, and vibrant performing arts sector that provides them ample opportunities for growth and advancement, both in their art and in their lives.

Media contacts:

Aliyah Armstrong / Laurie Kamens / Josh Balber
Resnicow and Associates
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212-671-5179 / 212-671-5178 / 212-671-5175

SOURCE Walder Foundation


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