The Greenfield Prize was established on September 19, 2008. On that date the trustees of the Greenfield Foundation voted to contract with the Hermitage Artist Retreat to create, administer, and promote a national prize. The prize is a $30,000 commission for a new work of art in any discipline selected by the Hermitage. In addition to the financial support, the prize offers assistance through a residency at the Hermitage, a producing partner in the form of a professional organization to participate in the early-stage development, and support to premiere and disseminate the finished work throughout the country.
This process represents the vision of Bob Greenfield, founder and past president of the Greenfield Foundation. Bob and his wife, Louise are life-long lovers of art in all its forms. It was Bob who worked with Hermitage Executive Director Bruce Rodgers to develop this plan for the Foundation's significant, long-term investment.
The real beginning was earlier in 2008 when Greenfield Foundation administrator Debra Jacobs invited Bruce for lunch with Bob and Louise to discuss an idea. At that lunch, Bob talked about the concept of "patronage," and how individual artists no longer have patrons who support them as they did in the Renaissance. His idea was to make the Greenfield Foundation an annual patron of individual artists by commissioning work. From that exciting initial notion sprung the idea of a national prize, the reward of which would be the commission. As the idea grew, so did its budget. A national prize of substance requires sizeable resources to support it. And with wise council from Debra Jacobs, the Foundation expressed its willingness to support the administrative expenses attributed to the prize.
In 1991 the Greenfield Foundation had established the Goldsmilth Prize in Investigative Journalism through Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The prize is administered on a contract basis between the university and the Foundation. It was decided that the new Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat would be based on the Harvard model, and a contract was drawn and negotiated between the Foundation and the Hermitage. It is this contract that was ratified by the Greenfield Foundation Board of Trustees on September 19, 2008.
The original plan was to alternate commissions between drama and music but further discussion including the Hermitage's National Artist Advisory Board added a third, flexible category for funding that would allow support for new media, new forms and combinations of disciplines. So now the prize rotates among drama, music, and what we describe as a "wild card," allowing any form or forms to be commissioned by the prize.
In 2009, the first year of the prize, two commissions were given; one in drama for a new play, and one in music for a new piece of chamber music. The impetus behind the dual commission was to move to a two-year "gestation" period for future commissioned works while still bringing a new piece into the world by spring of 2010. The first commissioned work, Love and Irony
by Craig Lucas had two performances of a staged reading in April, 2010.
While our history is still short, the future is bright and we are excited to be creating it year-by-year as new commissions inspire new work intended to have a significant impact on our world. Stay tuned.