Christina deRoos, Kresge Arts in Detroit,, 313.664.1153
W. Kim Heron, The Kresge Foundation,, 248.502.0589

Total Awards Increase From 20 to 30, This Year and Next, to Help Arts Community Hard-Hit by Pandemic and Economic Downturn

Thirty Detroit-area artists will share $550,000 in Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Emerging Artist Awards announced today by Kresge Arts in Detroit. This is an increase of $90,000 and 10 additional awards from recent years.  

In announcing the 2020 Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients working in Live Arts and Film & Music, Kresge Arts in Detroit recommits to and deepens its support of metro Detroit artists by increasing the number of $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowships from 18 to 20, and the number of $5,000 Gilda Awards from 2 to 10. 

“With artists in the midst of an unprecedented loss of employment, we’re thrilled to provide more awards than ever,” said Christina deRoos, director of Kresge Arts in Detroit. “Given the no strings attached nature of the awards and the central role of artists throughout the city of Detroit, we know these resources will have a positive impact on far more than the 30 individuals receiving them.” Funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies, Kresge Arts in Detroit facilitates Kresge Artist Fellowships, Gilda Awards, and the annual Kresge Eminent Artist Award. In announcing the 13th cohort of award recipients, Kresge Arts in Detroit has, thus far, awarded 252 artists roughly $6 million.

Local and national panelists pored over hundreds of applications to choose the metro Detroit artists to receive 2020 Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards, the latter honoring the late artist, educator, and 2009 Kresge Artist Fellow Gilda Snowden, who died unexpectedly in 2014 and whose absence remains deeply felt. The latest awards provide 10 Kresge Artist Fellowships in Live Arts and 10 Kresge Artist Fellowships in Film & Music. There are four Gilda Award winners in Live Arts and six in Film & Music. The Kresge Foundation has committed to fund this increased number of awards – 20 fellowships and 10 Gilda Awards – in 2021 as well. 

“Kresge’s commitment to the arts – forged over more than a decade – is a commitment to the creative processes indispensable to healthy, vibrant, and hopeful communities,” said Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson. “And it is in times like these – full of uncertainty, pain, and injustice – that the arts play a unique role in provoking society to deeper reflection and arcing us to higher aspiration. A long, enduring investment in the arts, and in individual artists, is an insurance policy – that we never lose sight of our common humanity, never overlook the travails of our history, and never give up hope for the boundless possibilities for our future. There could be no clearer proof than the group of artists presented today.”  

The awardees were selected by independent panels of local and national artists and arts professionals who reviewed the applications over many months and several rounds of review. The selection criteria for Kresge Artist Fellowships include: A demonstrated track record of artistic achievement and high-quality work, the potential to grow and advance in one’s artistic career, and the potential to reflect, enhance, or impact communities within metropolitan Detroit.


Sherrine Azab, Theater Maker; Director; Educator; Co-Director, A Host of People; 2018 Kresge Artist Fellow
Anna Drozdowski, Cultivator; Curator; Guide
Miryam Johnson, Dancer; Co-Founder, Collective Sweat Detroit; Student Fellowship Coordinator, Daring Dances; Dance Educator and Youth Dance Ensemble Director, Living Arts
Toby MacNutt, Dancer; Choreographer
Jeff Michael Rebudal, Dance Maker; Educator, and Consultant, Rebudal Dance


Ephraim Asili, Artist; Filmmaker; Professor of Film and Electronic Arts, Bard College
Leith Campbell, Composer; Creative Programmer; Sculptor; Professor of Music, Wayne State University; Staff, College for Creative Studies
Amy Denio, Composer; Musician; Record Producer; Publisher; President, Tiptons Sax Quartet LLC; Vice President, Seattle Composers Alliance
Marshalle Montgomery Favors, Filmmaker; Producer/Director; Co-Founder, Trinity International Film Festival; Co-Founder, Fearless Tribe of Fanatic Filmmakers
Oona Mosna, Artist; Author; Curator; Director, Media City Film Festival

“It was meaningful to serve as a panelist for an organization that values racial equity within the arts,” said Film & Music panelist Marshalle Montgomery Favors. “I am excited about this cohort of Kresge Artist Fellows. They are a reflection of the rich and diverse talent that we have in our community.”

In addition to a $25,000 no strings attached award, Kresge Artist Fellows receive one year of

professional development support. This year, for the first time, Kresge Arts in Detroit will lead the professional development program – formerly handled by third parties – which has been reimagined and will be driven by participants. Fellows will select the skill-building, networking, promotion, and coaching support that best suits their goals and definition of success.

“In these unprecedented times, if one needed a reminder of Detroit’s resilient and tenacious spirit, it’s exemplified in the inspiring work of the 2020 Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients,” said College for Creative Studies President Donald L. Tuski. “CCS is proud to honor and invest in this group of artists and looks forward to their ongoing contributions to our cultural community and progress. Our world needs the transformative power of the arts, now more than ever.” 

The fellows will also be featured in Kresge Arts in Detroit’s commissioned film series, which documents the work and perspectives of the fellows throughout the program’s history. Short individual artist videos and a feature-length documentary film of the 2019 fellows are available online at and Vimeo, respectively. The 2020 fellows’ films will go online next winter. 

“Detroit is known for talented, innovative artists whose work not only reflects and documents the world as it is, but also heals, confronts and inspires us all to imagine what’s possible how we can approach the past and present with a commitment to truth and reconciliation, and build a future where everyone can fully thrive,” said deRoos. “At this critical moment, as always, artists are critical to Detroit’s position as one of the most creative cities in the United States, and one that remains at the forefront of the ongoing struggle for justice.” 

This year marks the first time a prior recipient of the emerging artist award has received a Kresge Artist Fellowship. Aja Salakastar Dier received a Gilda Award in 2018 and is among the new cohort of Kresge Artist Fellows. “Winning a Gilda Award in 2018 gave me the resources I needed to boost my career, much of which came in the form of an automobile. Having a car enabled me to teach more classes, go to more rehearsals, collaborate with more artists, attend more classes and workshops, and play more gigs,” Dier said. “Having the space and time to experiment as an artist, especially as a Black woman artist (and especially during this time), is crucial. My intention as a Kresge Artist Fellow is to take my work to the next level, connecting to a global experience while being rooted in my hometown.”


Ajara AlghaliDance
Kia ix ArriagaInterdisciplinary Work
Shawntai BrownPlaywriting
Karilú Alarcón ForsheeInterdisciplinary Work
Debra J. White-HuntDance and Choreography
Chris JakobInterdisciplinary Work
Melanie ManosPerformance Art
Michael MansonDance and Choreography
Andrew MortonPlaywriting and Theatre Directing
SalakastarInterdisciplinary Work


Vincent ChandlerMusic Composition and Performance
Marcus ElliotMusic Composition and Performance
Amp FiddlerMusic Composition
bree gantInterdisciplinary Work
Mike KhouryMusic Composition and Performance
Rafael LeafarMusic Composition and Performance
Joo Won ParkMusic Composition and Performance
Naima ShamborguerMusic Composition and Performance
Brandon WalleyFilm Directing
Paige WoodScreenwriting and Film Directing


Celia BenvenuttiDance and Choreography
Aj SimsDance and Choreography
Thank You So Much For Coming (Maddy Rager, Scott Crandall)Interdisciplinary Work
Lis Chere ThomasPerformance Art


Ian FinkMusic Composition and Performance
Karl KingsonScreenwriting and Film Directing
Emily RogersMusic Composition and Performance
Summer Like The Season (Summer Krinsky)Music Composition and Performance
Teddy Dorsette IIIInterdisciplinary Work
We Are Culture Creators (Michael Reyes, Elizabeth Stone, Xavier Cuevas)Interdisciplinary Work

Addressing the five-fold increase in Gilda Awards this year, deRoos said, “In 2020, the legacy of Gilda Snowden remains strong. It is an honor to increase the number of artists receiving awards in recognition of her lasting contributions to the community of artists in Detroit.”

Gilda Award recipients are chosen from among the applicants for the 2020 Kresge Artist Fellowships. In keeping with the late Snowden’s encouragement and mentorship of early-career artists, Gilda Awards recognize artists who are early in their artistic career, are gaining momentum, and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form.

“It is wonderful to know that Gilda continues her legacy of uplifting, as well as creating a positive impact for new talent. Our family congratulates all of the emerging artists!” said William G. Boswell, husband of the late Snowden. 

A celebration of the 2020 award recipients will occur online on July 16. Building on the 2020 award announcement, Sidewalk Detroit has curated a group of past recipients of Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards to present work in a hybrid virtual and socially distanced performance series titled NOW:FUTURE. From July 24 to August 14, musicians, theater-makers, dancers and more – including Marion Hayden, Britney Stoney, A Host of People, and Erika Stowall — will present work exploring the story of Detroit artists today and the future they desire to actualize.

Application information for the 2021 Kresge Artist Fellowships in Literary Arts and Visual Arts will be available in fall 2021. 

For bios and photos of the 2020 Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients, please see

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 $6 million through 12 Kresge Eminent Artist awards ($50,000 each), 218 Kresge Artist fellowships ($25,000 each), and 22 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 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.

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