The MacArthur Fellowship (often called the "genius grant") is an award given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation each year since 1981, to between 20 and 40 citizens or residents of the U.S., of any age and working in any field, who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." The current value of the prize is $500 000, spread out over five years. The prizes are typically awarded to those in the arts and sciences.
Notable artists, filmmakers, composers and critics who have received the award include Gary Hill (1998), Dave Hickey, John Zorn, Kara Walker (all 1997), Cindy Sherman, Allison Anders, Meredith Monk, (1995), David Hammons (1991) and Bill Viola (1989).
The 2008 recipients were announced today and include eight winners from the arts, including musicologist Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) and sculptor Tara Donovan (whose work is pictured).