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Nine Artists, 10 Schools Are Honored with 2016 Leonore Annenberg Awards

Nine early-career artists have been named 2016 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 talented young artists to broaden their skills and make a breakthrough in their industry.

Fellowships totaling $450,000 were awarded in 2016 to violinist Robyn Bollinger; bass-baritone Brandon Cedel; actors Jeremie Harris, Miriam Hyman and David Pegram; cellist and conductor Nico Olarte-Hayes; visual artist Nyugen Smith; ballet dancer Devon Teuscher; and musician and musicologist Daniel Walden.

In addition, the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, which provides educational resources to underfunded schools in urban and rural communities, has selected 10 public elementary schools in Florida, New York, and Tennessee to receive grants averaging $50,000. In total, the School Fund’s 2016 grants amount to nearly $500,000 for resources such as art and music programs; computers, books, and educational software; science and STEM labs, and a mini-greenhouse. The schools were chosen in consultation with regional, nonprofit partner organizations from the three states.

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. Including the 2016 group, the Fellowship Fund has paid or pledged more than $5.5 million in career-development grants to artists and the School Fund has awarded more than $6.4 million to schools in need of resources.


The Arts Fund has enabled promising artists to film a movie, record new music, experiment in performance, afford studio time or training, buy materials, pay for living expenses and pay down student debt. The fellows, selected in consultation with partners such as The Public Theater, American Ballet Theatre, and the Perlman Music Program, work with mentors chosen by the partners and the Leonore Annenberg Fund.

“The philanthropy represented in these fellowships embodies both ideals and constructive action,” said Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of the program, administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “Through her beneficence to early-career musicians, dancers, singers, actors and visual artists, Leonore Annenberg will not let us forget what is important and what is good.”

The 2016 arts fellows are:

  • Robyn Bollinger, a violinist and graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, who blends multimedia and narrative with her performances.
  • Brandon Cedel, a bass-baritone, is in his third year of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
  • Jeremie Harris, recently cast in FX’s X-Men TV series “Legion,” graduated from the Juilliard School.
  • Miriam A. Hyman, who received her MFA at the Yale School of Drama, is also a Hip Hop MC under the name Robyn Hood.
  • Nico Olarte-Hayes, a cellist and conductor, who graduated with honors in 2012 from the Harvard/New England Conservatory Joint Program with an A.B. in physics and a Master of Music.
  • David Pegram, an actor, who spent two years in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of “War Horse” after graduating from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
  • Nyugen Smith, a multimedia artist, aims to use his fellowship to pursue field research in the Caribbean to further his work on colonialism and post-colonialism.
  • Devon Teuscher, a soloist with the American Ballet Theater, plans to visit other companies around the world to learn from them.
  • Daniel Walden, a musician and musicologist working towards a Ph.D. in music theory at Harvard University, studies and performs both historical and new music.

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.