Rosy Simas, a Twin Cities-based transdisciplinary artist, has been selected to receive a fellowship award of $550,000 from the Doris Duke Foundation. She is one of six this year to receive the honor. The foundation doubled down on its support for the 2023 fellowship class by increasing its annual fellowship award from the $275,000 that fellows received last year.
An enrolled member of the Seneca Nation, Heron clan, Simas works with a team of artists to bring together dance with visual and audio elements. Besides works like the recent "she who lives on the road to war," which was presented at the Weisman Art Museum and All My Relations Gallery, Simas also supports emerging Native and BIPOC artists through the three thirty one space in northeast Minneapolis. She's previously been recognized at the national level by the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, among others.
The Doris Duke Foundation started the Doris Duke Awards 10 years ago as a way to recognize great artists who were at an inspiring and important inflection point in their careers, according to Sam Gill, president and CEO of the foundation.
Rather than continuing the ongoing treadmill of project-based support, the foundation wondered what would happen if they provided unrestricted support for artists that they could use for a variety of needs, including their life needs.
"We wanted to explore a deeper question," Gill said. "Could [unrestricted support] unlock a qualitatively different level of creative output and innovation and contribution?"
After a decade, the foundation has found that its methods are working, unlocking doors to significant and exciting living performing artists today.
"We really feel it's important to make that argument to the rest of the world," Gill said, "to really demonstrate that if we funded artists and creators as whole people, we would be able to enjoy in much greater abundance the kinds of sustaining experiences that the arts provide."
Fellows are selected by their peers in the program. A panel of nominators across the country, made up of subject matter experts, identify candidates worthy of consideration. Then there are several rounds of evaluation, both specific to one discipline and across artistic disciplines.
According to Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts with the foundation, Simas rose through the ranks of a contemporary dance panel, then to a multidisciplinary panel that looked across the entire pool of candidates to make the final selection set.
"Our panelists always remain anonymous," Knighton said, "but one direct quote was that one of the solo pieces that [a panelist] saw of Rosy's was one of the best solo pieces they had ever seen."