Founding of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA
During Her lifetime, Princess Grace of Monaco was committed to helping emerging artists realize their career goals. Following Her death in 1982, Prince Rainier III of Monaco mobilized a group of individuals to establish the Princess Grace Foundation-USA as a tribute to Her legacy. Since then, and until His death in 2005, Prince Rainier and His children have been active in the oversight and direction of the organization. The Foundation continues its mission to assist performing artists in honor of Princess Grace.
From its inception, the Princess Grace Foundation–USA was fortunate to have dedicated supporters, not only in Princess Grace's family, but in Her many friends and admirers including producer Gant Gaither, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, John Johnson, William Rogers, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Lynn Wyatt.
The Board of Trustees, with Robert Hausman as its first chairman, incorporated the Princess Grace Foundation-USA as a not-for-profit public charity. Though entirely independent, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA cooperates with the Princess Grace Foundation, Monaco, founded by Princess Grace and now under the presidency of Her daughter Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Hanover.
In 1984, after the initial fundraising phase was complete, financial grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships were awarded to artists associated with schools or companies in the dance and theater disciplines. Film Scholarships became an integral part of the Princess Grace Awards program in 1989. An arts advisory board composed of distinguished professionals in each of those fields was appointed to choose the most talented applicants as Awards winners.
President and Mrs. Reagan were present in 1984 when the first grants were awarded during an event-filled weekend in Washington D.C., including a White House reception. The tradition continues each year as new recipients are honored at the annual Awards Gala in New York City.
Over the past 35 years, the Foundation has awarded to nearly 800 theater, dance, and film artists nationwide. It continues to fund its inaugural disciplines and has expanded its grants program to include playwriting and choreography grants within the theater and dance categories. In 1989, the Foundation added the film category to the grants program. In 2003, the Foundation furthered the commitment to its artists by creating the Special Project Awards category. These grants, offered only to Princess Grace Award winners, provide project-specific funding for consequential artistic opportunities. In 2008, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA formed a partnership with the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) to provide further support for Princess Grace Award winners. The Works in Progress Residency enables these artists to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of their work in an environment that focuses on process over product. The Foundation hopes to foster a community network for continued support of recipients as they progress in their careers.
Awards winners who have displayed consistent excellence in theater, dance or film, have received the Foundation's highest honor: the Princess Grace Statue Award. In addition to a monetary gift, these Awardees are presented with a bronze statuette of Princess Grace created by the Dutch artist, Kees Verkade. To date, 62 artists have received this coveted Award.
In 2005, the Board of Trustees inaugurated the Prince Rainier III Award, in honor of the man who helped begin the Foundation. This Award is presented to eminent artists who have not only been highly successful in their careers, but have made significant humanitarian contributions to their fields. Mikhail Baryshnikov (2005), Twyla Tharp (2006), George Lucas (2007), Glenn Close (2008), Mandy Patinkin (2009), Denzel and Pauletta Washington (2010), Julie Andrews (2011), Lynn Wyatt (2012), Cicely Tyson (2013) Dick Van Dyke (2014), Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars Redford (2015) and Queen Latifah (2016) have received this honor, which includes a grant to the philanthropic organization of their choice.
As the Princess Grace Foundation-USA enters its second quarter-century, the future of the Foundation is secure. With John F. Lehman, Jr. at the helm and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco serving as Vice-Chairman, the dedicated board supports the Foundation's work. Ms. Toby Boshak, who has been with the Foundation for 20 years, is the Executive Director. The organization is financially stable and looks forward to substantial growth while remaining faithful to the principles of its original mission to support the needs of emerging artists. The success of Princess Grace Award winners inspire new and creative ways to help talented performing artists achieve their goals.