Friday, 13 August 2010

The Chris Al-Aswad Prize

Some of you will know that I have recently started a new venture. More of that in the next week or so. More important things for today:

it is an honour to announce, as one of the very first things I do with that venture, the inaugural

chris al-aswad prize for outstanding contribution to breaking down barriers in the arts

for the person, organisation, website, community, whatever that has done most to promote brilliance, diversity, and the breaking down of barriers in literature over the preceding twelve months. it is a genuine honour to be able to award this prize in the name of chris al-aswad, one of the most brilliant, farsighted, innovative, generous, and supportive people in the arts. chris, the genius behind escape into life, one of the most wonderful places in cyberspace, died in july 2010 at the age of just 31. his contribution and spirit will be sorely missed, and are irreplaceable. it is a privilege to be able to do something that will in some way perpetuate his name and his values.
the award is intended to recognise outstanding people striving to break down barriers, and to provide practical assistance to its recipients in furthering their work. to that end, it will not be awarded by demonstrable quantitative achievements, or to a job fully done.

we are really keen to hear any and all recommendations – e-mail by september 15

full details here

and the really important bit for you

to make the prize as helpful as possible, i want to make the actual prize both useful and symbolic of what chris believed in so much, the values i completely share with him. so i want as many people in the arts or media in any capacity to think about what they could offer the recipient. something very small, the equivalent of an hour of your time.

  • if you're in the media, it might be a column on the recipient
  • if you're onilne it might be giving over a guest post
  • if you have a venue it might be a brief show
  • if you have a shop, it might be a prominent place on your shelves for a period

put together, these little pieces can make a huge contribution to the recipient's work and, as a result, to breaking down barriers in the arts in general. offers gladly taken in the comments here as well as at the above e-mail address.

of course, the first thing everyone here can do is blog about it, and send people over to


  1. Sounds marvellous! I'll do what I can to spread the word.

  2. Thank you, both. Do take a look around the Escape to Life site - it's an amazing place

  3. I can offer free hosting and blog/website set up if they need it?

  4. Hi Dan,

    I knew Chris personally in the early years of Novelr. I know you didn't mention this, and I'm touched by the act of setting up the prize - but ... I'm in shock. What happened? He was so young! What happened?


  5. Hi Dan,

    thanks for keeping Chris' spirit alive by settig up this prize.

    I'd like to offer a coloumn on the recipient in German online arts-magazine 'Art and Events'.

    Best wishes from Berlin.

  6. I'm late. Just found out about Chris passing and I'm stunned. Writing a blog post asap. Thanks for the shout out and for hosting this award Dan. You're super!

  7. Atually, thank you for the shout out. I got the hosting part wrong, heh. :P

  8. This is terrific Dan I think Chris would love the Participation Piece of the prize.

  9. Klaus, thank you so much. I will make the addition to the site now.

    Thank you so much Mari, Jerry. Please do let me know if you have any suggestions at all for suitable recipients

  10. Your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job.