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MacArthur org honor Tipton

Lighting designer given 'genius grant'

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation has awarded one of its “genius grant” fellowships to lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, best known for her Tony-winning work on “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” and director Andrei Serban’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

The $500,000 no-strings-attached fellowship pays out over five years. Tipton, who is heading to Paris to supervise an upcoming video of the Opera Garnier’s homage to Robbins, said that she “had a slight inkling” that she had been nominated, but had no expectations.

“This is the first time that a stage designer has been awarded the grant, so I just assumed that it was… well, not a stated policy, but just sort of a sense that a lighting designer wasn’t worthy,” said Tipton.

Tiptonsays that she would like to use the money to start a foundation for designers . For her next American project, she’ll design the world premiere of playwright Richard Nelson’s “Wild Duck” translation, beginning at Chicago’s Court Theater Jan. 15.

With the award, Tipton joins a list of MacArthur fellows who work in the arts, including Suzan-Lori Parks, Julie Taymor, and the late David Foster Wallace, among many others. The foundation prides itself on considering an eclectic array of candidates each year.

This year’s crop of winners also includes Alex Ross, New Yorker music critic and author of “The Rest is Noise,” astrophysicists Andrea Ghez and Adam Reiss, and Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenon, who will play Gotham club The Jazz Standard on Oct. 2.