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First Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award to be Presented to Ava DuVernay for ARRAY at MacDowell Benefit

- September 27, 2020

Type: Press Releases, Artist News, Events, Artist Profiles, Fellowships

 ARRAY Founder Ava DuVernay (portrait by Koury Angelo, Getty Images)

ARRAY Founder Ava DuVernay (portrait by Koury Angelo, Getty Images) (Koury Angelo for Getty Images photo)

Inaugural award to be presented by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, with evening host Nell Painter, Jane Alexander, free program, and online auction.

Peterborough, NH and New York – Filmmaker and founder of ARRAY, Ava DuVernay will accept the inaugural Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award during MacDowell’s Virtual National Benefit on October 19, 2020. MacDowell Fellow and Madame Chairman of the Board Nell Painter will host a free evening that features presentations from MacDowell Fellows in theater, poetry, film, and music. Fellow, former MacDowell Board Member, and former NEA Chair Jane Alexander (19) will introduce the Marian MacDowell Award and ask Ford Foundation President Darren Walker to present the award to ARRAY.

“I am honored to accept the Marian MacDowell Award on behalf of ARRAY,” said DuVernay. “As I have learned more about MacDowell, and the range of artists who have been in residence over decades, I am moved by how their work has influenced our world. Marian MacDowell was the woman who, in 1907, had the unique vision to support artists from many different walks of life in an effort to remove barriers to creativity. I am touched that our narrative change collective ARRAY, which is built upon a mission to articulate and amplify stories from the widest range of art makers, is being honored in Ms. MacDowell’s name. I look forward to cultivating a partnership between ARRAY and MacDowell to enable more artists of color, specifically women, to be a part of the residency program in coming years.”

In addition to directing the Academy Award-winning civil rights drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated social justice documentary 13TH, and the Disney children’s adventure A Wrinkle in Time, which made her the highest-grossing Black woman director in American box office history, DuVernay created, wrote, produced, and directed the Emmy Award-winning limited series “When They See Us.” She is currently producing the fifth season of her acclaimed series “Queen Sugar.” She was also the winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Prize for her second independent film, Middle of Nowhere.

This year’s award is being underwritten by Agnes Gund who says DuVernay’s 13TH inspired the formation of Gund’s Art for Justice Fund.

DuVernay will receive the award during a streamed online evening that begins with cocktails during which donors at virtual tables will have the opportunity to speak with MacDowell Fellows about their work and experiences as artists-in-residence at MacDowell. Afterward, a free and open-to-the-public 45-minute program will include works illustrating the breadth of creativity supported on the 450-acre wooded grounds in New Hampshire. Among Fellows who will take part are composers Austin Yip (19) and Jeanine Tesori (20) with Tony Award-winner Karen Olivo; and filmmaker Isabel Sandoval (19). There will be a performance honoring Audre Lorde (79, 83) directed by Whitney White, scored by JJJJJerome Ellis (19), and featuring Charlayne Woodard, Karen Pittman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Fellow Eisa Davis (99). Writers Tayari Jones (03, 07, 16) and Andrew Sean Greer (9x 01-18) will make appearances. An online auction will take place throughout to raise critical operating funds for the 113-year-old organization. Items will represent the creativity that MacDowell engenders and range in prices to allow everyone to participate. Visit our benefit webpage on October 12 when the auction opens and on October 19 to take part in the celebrations. in the celebrations.

While the National Benefit is taking place solely online this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the residency program is working to reopen its doors to artists later this year in order to get back to its core purpose of supporting artists in the creation of new works of the imagination. A full plan on making that happen in October is forthcoming. MacDowell grants residencies of between two weeks and two months to artists working in multiple disciplines in a supportive environment. Founded in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian MacDowell, Fellows work in an ideal setting in the stimulating company of peers working across disciplines.

MacDowell and ARRAY share the common goal of supporting artists, a mission that will be highlighted during the presentation of the Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award, which was created to acknowledge those who profoundly and uniquely support artists.

DuVernay’s impact in this realm is unmatched. In 2012, she formed ARRAY, a multi-platform media company and arts collective based in Los Angeles, to amplify independent films by Black artists, people of color, and women filmmakers globally. To date it has supported numerous impactful works such as Lingua Franca, the first film directed by and starring a trans woman of color to screen in competition at 2019’s Venice International Film Festival Venice Days program; and Burning Cane, the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Founders Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature and a 2019 Venice Film Festival Official Selection.


ARRAY is a multi-platform media company and arts collective based in Los Angeles. Founded in 2012 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the company currently operates a trio of branded entertainment entities: ARRAY Releasing, ARRAY Filmworks, and ARRAY Creative Campus in partnership with the non-profit cinema and social justice organization ARRAY Alliance.


A MacDowell Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day. There are no residency fees, and anyone may apply. Selection is based solely on talent by panels of professionals in each artistic discipline. In July, MacDowell’s board voted unanimously to officially drop the word “colony” from its name. The action was initiated in response to feedback from Fellows and the larger artist community and is in keeping with the organization’s longstanding commitment to eliminate financial, geographic, cultural, and accessibility barriers to participation.