Christina deRoos, Kresge Arts in Detroit

Christine Jacobs, The Kresge Foundation

2018 Kresge Artist Fellowships Announced, 10-Year Celebration Begins

200 Metro Detroit Artists of all Career Stages and Disciplines Have Shared $5 Million

Detroit, Michigan – June 21, 2018 –
Sixteen metro Detroit artists and two collaborating groups have been selected to receive 2018 Kresge Artist Fellowships. In addition, four emerging artists are receiving Gilda Awards in this 10th year of the program, bringing the total number of artist awards given during the first ten years of Kresge Arts in Detroit to 200.

Funded by The Kresge Foundation, Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards are administered by the Kresge Arts in Detroit office of the College for Creative Studies. The latest awards provide nine Kresge Artist Fellowships in Live Arts (dance, theatre, playwriting, and other forms intended to be experienced live) and nine Kresge Artist Fellowships in Film & Music. In addition, two Gilda Award recipients were selected in each category.

With this 10th class of fellows, The Kresge Foundation has placed a total of more than $5 million in unrestricted funds into the hands of 200 individual artists and artist collectives across metro Detroit. Recipients include 10 Kresge Eminent Artists ($50,000 each), 180 Kresge Artist Fellows ($25,000 each) and 10 Gilda Award recipients ($5,000 each).

The Kresge Arts in Detroit program represents the foundation’s desire to support artists living and working in the foundation’s hometown, and to elevate the profile of metro Detroit’s artists and creative communities. “The arts are a vital force in Detroit,” said Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson. “We are honored every year to support the newest recipients of Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards whose work reflect our community’s artistic and cultural wealth. While we highlight the talented individuals receiving awards this year, we also celebrate the collective statement and collective impact all of the artists have had across the first ten years of the initiative,” Rapson added. “These artists speak to tradition and experimentation. They illuminate stark truths and they light the imagination. They craft narratives of our time and they ensure timeless truths are not forgotten. Our community is more deeply connected because of artists like these woven into our cultural fabric. It is an honor to be able to support them and to elevate their work.”

In addition to their $25,000 unrestricted award, each of the 2018 Kresge Artist Fellows receives a year of professional practice support provided by Creative Many Michigan, which begins with an intensive professional development retreat presented by New York-based artist-service organization Creative Capital. The fellows will also be featured in Kresge Arts in Detroit’s film series, through which the work and perspectives of each of the artists is documented and celebrated.

The four Gilda Award recipients each receive $5,000 unrestricted awards to foster their work. The award is named in honor of artist, CCS professor and 2009 Kresge Artist Fellow Gilda Snowden’s (1954-2014) legacy as a mentor and champion of young, emerging artists in metropolitan Detroit.

Film & Music Fellows

David BinderMusic Performance
Ben CoronaFilm Directing
Toni Cunningham, Screenwriting
Thornetta DavisMusic Composition and Performance
Robert B. Jones, Sr.Music Composition and Performance
Michelle MayMusic Composition and Performance
Ahya SimoneMusic Composition and Performance
Alex WayMusic Composition and Performance
Julia YezbickFilm Directing

Arthur Cartwright, Screenwriting, Film Directing
Aisha Ellis, Music Composition and Performance

Live Arts Fellows

A Host of People (collaborative), Theatre Directing
Morgan Breon, Theatre Directing, Playwriting
Ronald Ford, Jr., Dance, Choreography
Penny GodboldoDance, Choreography
The Hinterlands (collaborative), Theatre Directing
Carrie MorrisTheatre Directing, Puppetry
Emilio RodriguezPlaywriting
Lance RodriguezDance, Choreography
Dwight “Skip” StackhouseStorytelling

Brandyn “SKilz” Burton, Dance, Choreography
Salakastar, Theatre, Performance Art      

“As we celebrate 10 years of the Kresge Arts in Detroit program, we remain inspired by and grateful for The Kresge Foundation’s commitment to support and uplift the creative work of metro Detroit artists,” says Richard L. Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies. “Through this program of no-strings-attached financial support and professional practice opportunities, individual artists have been able to advance their practice and advance their lives. The Kresge Foundation’s investment has ensured that our city retains the cultural vitality and national relevance for which it is renowned.”

The awardees were selected by independent panels of local and national artists and arts professionals from over 450 applications.


Juanita Anderson, Filmmaker; Film Producer; Area Head of Media Arts and Studies, Wayne State University
Rashaad Newsome, Multidisciplinary Artist
Regina Carter, Composer; Musician; 2006 MacArthur Fellow
Wayne Horvitz, Composer; Musician; Curator; Professor of Composition, Cornish College of the Arts
Ara Topouzian, Musician; 2012 Kresge Artist Fellow; Council Member, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs           


Billy Mark, Poet; Musician; Performance Artist; 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow
Billicia Hines, Assistant Professor and Director, Black Theatre Program, Wayne State University; Associate Artist, Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium
Marjani Fortè-Saunders, Choreographer; Dancer; Curator; Co-director, Alkebulan Cultural Center (Pasadena, CA)
Lisa Rose LaMarre Wilmot, Choreographer; Dancer; Director, LaMarre and Dancers; Adjunct Professor, Wayne State University
Rulan Tangen, Choreographer; Dancer; Founding Artistic Director, Dancing Earth

“As a Film & Music panelist, it was very clear to me that Detroit continues to inspire and nurture an incredible range of creative talent,” says internationally-renowned violinist and Detroit native, Regina Carter. “It was exciting to review all of the work samples and artist statements, and ultimately very challenging to select such a small number of artists to receive awards.”

An event to celebrate the 2018 award recipients, as well as the 10-year program milestone and all selected Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients to date, will be held the evening of July 12.

“We recently published an evaluation of the first eight years of the program and found that its benefits accrue to the community as well as to the artists,” Rapson said. “Awardees lives have been improved and careers have been boosted, and those artists also reinvigorate the arts community and the community at large.”

The Kresge Foundation recently awarded funding for program years 11 and 12 to Kresge Arts in Detroit, ensuring Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, Kresge Artist Fellowships, and Gilda Awards through 2020. Application information for the 2019 Kresge Artist Fellowships in Literary Arts and Visual Arts will be available in fall 2018.

“Kresge Artist Fellows have helped change the narrative of the city while ensuring that Detroit retains its historic position as a culturally vibrant city where the arts are instrumental to our identity and sense of place,” added Rapson. “Artists like those we celebrate today have been central to our past and remain integral to our future. With this in mind, the foundation looks forward to additional announcements in the near future to mark the 10-year milestone.”

Further information: Christina deRoos at

Kresge Arts in Detroit is generously funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies. The goals of Kresge Arts in Detroit are to enrich the quality of life for metro Detroiters by helping artists provide a broad spectrum of cultural experiences; celebrate and reflect the richness and diversity of our community in all its aspects; heighten the profile of arts and artists in our community; and strengthen the artistic careers of local artists. Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has awarded more than $5 million through ten Kresge Eminent Artist awards ($50,000 each), 180 Kresge Artist fellowships ($25,000 each), and ten Gilda Awards ($5,000 each).

The Kresge Foundation is a private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. Kresge’s Detroit Program collaborates with civic, nonprofit and business partners to promote long-term, equitable opportunity in Kresge’s hometown. The strategy includes place-based efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for residents; efforts to strengthen arts and culture, early childhood development, community development and other citywide systems of support; and efforts to bolster civic capacity, the ability of Detroiters to join, influence and lead the city’s renewal.

The College for Creative Studies (CCS), located in the heart of Detroit, educates artists and designers to be leaders in the creative professions. A private, fully accredited college, CCS enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. Students in the BFA program can major in Advertising, Copywriting, Advertising Design, Communication Design, Crafts, Entertainment Arts, Fashion Accessories Design, Fine Arts, Illustration, Interior Design, Photography, Product Design, and Transportation Design, in addition to a dual major Art Education program. Students in the MFA program can major in Color and Materials Design, Interaction Design, Integrated Design, and Transportation Design. The College also offers non-credit courses in the visual arts through its Continuing and Precollege Studies programs and opportunities for youth through its Community Arts Partnerships programs.

Creative Many Michigan designs and delivers a series of professional practice and engagement opportunities for the artists awarded the Kresge Artist Fellowships. The program features individual meetings with Creative Many staff, a kick-off Creative Capital retreat, group workshops and presenter brunches, alumni-led events, and validation services – including review of applications and proposals, letters of support, and fee waiver for their Lawyers for the Creative Economy referral program. Since 2008, the program has brought over 197 esteemed arts professionals to Detroit to work with fellows and the wider creative community. Creative Many advances the creative industries for a strong and resilient Michigan. Headquartered in Detroit with offices in Lansing and Grand Rapids, they work with local partners across sectors to maximize the power of Michigan’s creative many for the strength of our state. They empower and invest in creative people and industries, connecting them with resources, networks and opportunities to develop their practice, influence and the creative economy.

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