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Each year the Academy honors over 70 composers, artists, architects, and writers with awards and prizes ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. The recipients are chosen by committees whose members are drawn from the Academy’s roster. Candidates for awards must be nominated by an Academy member, with the sole exception of the Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater. Members are not eligible to receive cash prizes.

Arts and Letters Awards

In 1941 the Academy established awards to encourage creative work in the arts. Now $10,000 each, Arts and Letters Awards (formerly Academy Awards) are given annually: five to artists, eight to writers, four to composers, and four to architects. Composers receive an additional $10,000 toward the recording of a work.

Blake-Dodd Prize

Anna Bowman Blake Dodd, a writer of travel essays and French history, left the Academy the residue of her estate when she died in Paris in 1929. Because of the Depression, the fund languished for many years. It now supports the triennial Blake-Dodd Prize of $25,000 for a nonfiction writer.

Marc Blitzstein Memorial Award

In 1965 the friends of Academy member Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964) set up a fund in his memory for an award, now $10,000, to be given periodically to a composer, lyricist, or librettist, to encourage the creation of works of merit for musical theater and opera.

Michael Braude Award

This $5000 triennial award was established by Mrs. Lillian Braude in memory of her husband, the businessman and writer of humorous verse Michael Braude (1910-1986). The award is given for light verse written in English regardless of the writer’s country of origin.

Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize

Since 1955 the Academy has given an annual prize, now $20,000, to an architect of any nationality who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art. The prize was established through a bequest from Emma Beatrice Brunner, widow of Academy member Arnold W. Brunner (1857-1925).

Benjamin H. Danks Award

Upon his death in 1930, Roy Lyndon Danks left an endowment in honor of his father to encourage young talent. Since 2003, the Academy has given an annual prize of $20,000 in rotation to a composer of ensemble works, a playwright, and a writer.

Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts

The Academy awards a certificate to a resident of the United States who has rendered notable service to the arts. Recipients have included philanthropists, curators, performers, dance company directors, book and magazine publishers, and elected officials.

E. M. Forster Award

Foreign Honorary Member E. M. Forster (1879-1970) bequeathed the American publication rights and royalties of his posthumous novel Maurice to Academician Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986), who transferred them to the Academy for the establishment of an award of $20,000 to be given to a young English writer toward a stay in the United States.

Gold Medals

Since 1909 the Academy has awarded Gold Medals for distinguished achievement in several different categories of the arts. Beginning in 1950, the Academy has awarded two medals a year in the rotating categories of Belles Lettres and Criticism, and Painting; Biography and Music; Fiction and Sculpture; History and Architecture (including Landscape Architecture); Poetry and Music; and Drama and Graphic Art. Gold Medals are given for the entire work of the recipient. The medal itself was designed in 1916 by Academician and noted sculptor and numismatist James Earle Fraser.

Walter Hinrichsen Award

The Walter Hinrichsen Award, established by the C. F. Peters Corporation, is given for the publication of a work by an American composer.

The William Dean Howells Medal

Named after Academy member Williams Dean Howells (1837-1920), the medal is given once every five years in recognition of the most distinguished American novel published during that period. The first winner of the Howells Medal was Mary E. Wilkins Freeman in 1925, followed by Willa Cather in 1930, and Pearl S. Buck in 1935. Other recipients include William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, E. L. Doctorow, John Updike, Don DeLillo, and Shirley Hazzard.

Andrew Imbrie Award in Music

This award of $10,000, inaugurated in 2012, was made possible through a gift from Andrew and Barbara Imbrie. It is awarded annually to a mid-career composer of demonstrated artistic merit.

The Charles Ives Awards

Harmony Ives, widow of Charles Ives (1874-1954), bequeathed the royalties from her husband’s music to the Academy to be used for scholarships for young composers. Six scholarships of $7,500 and two fellowships of $15,000 are now given annually. In 1998, the Academy inaugurated the Charles Ives Living, which gives an American composer $100,000 a year for two years to free a promising talent from the need to devote his or her time to any employment other than music composition during the period of the award. In 2008, the Academy awarded the inaugural Charles Ives Opera Prize of $50,000, to be given to a composer and librettist of a recently produced work.

Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction

The Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of $5000 is given for the best published first novel or collection of short stories of the preceding year. The prize was established in 1979 in memory of the writer Sue Kaufman.

John Koch Award

In 1989 Dora Koch, widow of Academy member John Koch (1908-1978), left the Academy a bequest to establish an award in art of $10,000 to be given from time to time to a young artist of figurative work.

Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award

In 1987 the Academy received a bequest from Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond for a biennial award of $10,000 given either to a composition student or an experienced composer.

Jacob Lawrence Award

Inaugurated in 2013, the Jacob Lawrence Award of $10,000 recognizes outstanding achievement in the visual arts.

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Award

Inaugurated in 2013, the Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Award of $10,000 recognizes outstanding achievement in the visual arts.

Goddard Lieberson Fellowships

Two Goddard Lieberson Fellowships of $15,000 are given annually to young composers of extraordinary gifts. The CBS Foundation endowed the fellowships in 1978 in memory of the late president of CBS Records.

Medal for Spoken Language

This medal, awarded from time to time at the discretion of the Board of Directors, recognizes individuals who set a standard of excellence in the use of spoken language. The award began in 1924 as the Medal for Good Diction on the Stage. In 1944 the award was renamed the Medal for Spoken Language and was expanded to include radio and television performers, as well as elected officials.

Award of Merit Medal

The Award of Merit Medal is accompanied by $25,000 and given each year, in rotation, to an outstanding person in America representing one of the following arts: Painting, the Short Story, Sculpture, the Novel, Poetry, and Drama. The first Award of Merit Medal was conferred in 1942.

Metcalf Awards

In 1986, the Academy received a bequest from Addison M. Metcalf, son of the late member Willard L. Metcalf (1858 – 1925), for two awards to honor young writers and artists of great promise. The Willard L. Metcalf Award in Art and the Addison M. Metcalf Award in Literature are biennial awards of $10,000.

Katherine Anne Porter Award

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who was elected to the Institute in 1941 and to the Academy in 1966. In 2001 the trustees of the Porter estate endowed this biennial award of $20,000 to honor a prose writer whose achievements and dedication to the literary profession have been demonstrated.

Presidential Citation

The Presidential Citation acknowledges achievement in the nurturing of the arts.

Arthur Rense Poetry Prize

In 1998 Paige Rense established an award of $20,000 in memory of her husband, the poet Arthur Rense. The prize is given triennially to an exceptional poet.

Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater

These awards were created and endowed by Academy member Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) for the development of musical theater, and subsidize full productions, studio productions, and staged readings in New York City by nonprofit theaters of musical plays by composers and writers who are not already established in this field. These are the only awards for which the Academy accepts applications. More information is available here.

Rosenthal Family Foundation Awards

The Rosenthal Foundation supports two awards of $10,000. One, established in 1956, is for a work of fiction published during the preceding year that is a considerable literary achievement. The second, created in 1959, is for a young artist of distinction.

The Mildred and Harold Strauss Livings

A bequest from Mildred and Harold Strauss in 1981 established two Strauss Living Funds that provide two writers of English prose literature an annual stipend to enable them to devote their time exclusively to writing. It is now $100,000 a year for a period of two years.

Virgil Thomson Award in Vocal Music

The Virgil Thomson Foundation endowed this $40,000 biennial award to honor its namesake, the composer and music critic Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), who was elected to the Academy in 1948. The award, which was first given in 2014, recognizes an American composer of vocal works.

John Updike Award

This biennial award of $20,000 recognizes a writer in mid-career who has demonstrated consistent excellence. The award was established by Martha Updike in memory of her husband, the writer John Updike (1932-2009).

Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award

This award of $20,000 is given annually to single out recent prose that merits recognition for the quality of its style. Franklin H. Kissner endowed the award in honor of the former vice-president and managing editor of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.

Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award

This $100,000 biennial award recognizes a writer of fiction or nonfiction who has made a significant contribution to American literature. The award was established through a bequest by Amber Lightfoot Walker, a devoted patron of the arts, to memorialize her son.

E. B. White Award

The E. B. White Award of $10,000, inaugurated in 2013, is given to a writer for achievement in children’s literature.

Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation

The Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation of $20,000 recognizes a practitioner, scholar, or patron who has made a significant contribution to the art of literary translation. The prize was established by Tappan Wilder and Catharine Wilder Guiles, the nephew and niece of Academy member Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), and given for the first time in 2009.

Morton Dauwen Zabel Award

This $10,000 biennial award was established by a bequest from Morton Dauwen Zabel. It is given in rotation to a poet, writer of fiction, or critic, of progressive, original, and experimental tendencies.

Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Fund

The American Impressionist painter, Childe Hassam (1859-1935), a founding member of the Institute, bequeathed over 400 paintings, watercolors, pastels, lithographs, and etchings, with the request that the accumulated income from their sale be used to purchase works by living American painters for donation to museums in the United States. Similar bequests were received from other members or their estates: Eugene Speicher (1883-1962), Louis Betts (1873-1961), and Gardner Symons (1861-1930). Through this program, the Academy has donated over 1,100 works of art to museums in all fifty states.

Art Purchase Program for Sculpture

From time to time, the Academy allocates funds specifically for the purchase of sculpture for donation to American museums.

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