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Leonore Annenberg Funds Award Five Artists Fellowships, Nine Schools Grants

PHILADELPHIA – Five emerging artists have been named 2015 fellows by the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts, which awards $50,000 a year for up to two years to artists who have demonstrated great talent and are on the cusp of a professional breakthrough.

Arts fellowships totaling $300,000 were awarded to soprano Julia Bullock; pianist Sean Chen; visual artist Caitlin Cherry; actor, writer and filmmaker McKenzie Chinn; and American Ballet Theatre soloist Joseph Gorak.

In addition, nine public elementary schools in five states will each receive grants of $50,000 and up from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, which provides educational resources to underfunded schools in urban and rural communities. The Leonore Annenberg School Fund’s 2015 grants — to schools in Florida, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — total more than $500,000 for resources such as interactive whiteboards and playground equipment; programs to increase proficiency in math and science; and an initiative using the arts to improve reading skills.

The 2015 Leonore Annenberg arts fellows.
2015 Leonore Annenberg arts fellows (from Left) Sean Chen, Caitlin Cherry, Julia Bullock, Joseph Gorak, and McKenzie Chinn.

Both the School Fund and the Fellowship Fund are programs of the Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship and School Funds, which also provide four-year college scholarships to high school students who have overcome challenging circumstances. The 10-year program is in its eighth year.

Including the current group of arts fellows, the Fellowship Fund has paid or pledged more than $5 million over the last eight years in career-development grants to artists to create work, receive training, travel to performances, develop studios, buy materials, pay for living expenses and health care, pay down student debt, or otherwise develop their talents to their fullest. The arts fellows, selected in consultation with partner organizations such as the Yale School of Drama, the Juilliard School, and American Ballet Theatre, work under the guidance of mentors chosen by the partners and the Leonore Annenberg Fund.

“At a time when institutional funding in the fine arts has been under serious pressure, the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund has provided millions of dollars to artists who have shown great promise,” said Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of the program, administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “We are fulfilling Leonore Annenberg’s wish that we invest in people who have shown talent, vision, and leadership, and we are helping them to realize their artistic potential.”

The 2015 arts fellows are:

  • Julia Bullock, who won the 2014 Naumburg International Vocal Competition and the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions.
  • Sean Chen, a pianist from Los Angeles, won third prize at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013, becoming the first American to reach the finals since 1997.
  • Caitlin Cherry, a Brooklyn-based visual artist, combines painting, sculpture and installation art.
  • McKenzie Chinn, an actor, writer and filmmaker in Chicago, plans to use much of her fellowship to write, co-produce, and star in an original, ultra-low budget feature-length movie.
  • Joseph Gorak, promoted last year to Soloist at American Ballet Theatre.

For more information on this year’s arts fellows, read the arts fellows release, and for more about the schools selected this year, read the school news release.