These are the kind of numbers artists like to hear. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced Thursday it is launching a new initiative to give $50 million over the next ten years to performing artists.

Individual artists from jazz, theatre and contemporary dance will be eligible for the Duke grants. Here’s a sample of contemporary work from Lauren Edson and Dylon G-Bowley (back) of the 'Trey McIntyre Project' Dance company. (Photo by Juana Arias /For the Washington Post)

The program will award 200 individual artists from the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theatre multi-year cash awards of as much as $275,000. Individuals will be selected through an anonymous peer-review process, not through applications.

Ed Henry, the foundation president, said in a statement: “Think of this as a radical vote of confidence in the creativity of more than 200 individual artists. At a time when support for the arts is being cut back across the country, and when most artists--the lifeblood of the field--are struggling just to stay viable project by project, we thought it was essential to step up our commitment.”

Henry said the artists will have “freedom to experiment, to reflect, to try something new without fear of failure.”

The foundation was started in 1996 with concentrations in the arts, environment, medical research and child abuse prevention. The arts component has distributed more than $218 million. The new program will begin in 2012, marking the 100th anniversary of Doris Duke’s birth. The value of Duke’s bequest to the foundation is now estimated at $1.6 billion.