Sophia Loren, Lady Gaga, Herbie Hancock, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Alice Walton, Maria Bell to Be Honored on October 19th

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Americans for the Arts, the leading organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, today announced its annual National Arts Awards honorees. The awards recognize artists and arts leaders who exhibit exemplary national leadership and whose work demonstrates extraordinary achievement. They are individuals who share a common belief in the power of the arts and arts education to enrich individual lives and communities alike.
This year’s National Arts awards recipients are:
  • Sophia LorenCarolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Lady GagaYoung Artist Award
  • Herbie HancockOutstanding Contributions to the Arts Award
  • Alice WaltonArts Education Award
  • Joan and Irwin JacobsPhilanthropy in the Arts Award
  • Maria BellLegacy Award
The 2015 National Arts Awards will be presented on Monday, October 19th at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City as part of National Arts and Humanities Month. Carolyn Clark Powers will serve in her inaugural year as Event Chair—alongside co-chairs Sarah Arison, Gagosian Gallery, David and Susan Goode, Susan and John Hess, Nora C. Orphanides, Regina K. Scully, and former National Arts Awards honoree Agnes Gund.
The evening will feature the work of visual artist Kerry James Marshall and a special musical performance by YoungArts, with musical direction by Jake Goldbas and featuring a performance by The Voice finalist, India Carney. This year’s award presenters include five-time Tony-winning, Emmy- and DGA-winning and Academy Award nominee, director, and choreographer Rob Marshall; art patron and collector Agnes Gund; La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director and Tony-nominated director Christopher Ashley; Grammy Award winning musician Paul Simon; and international art world figure and Americans for the Arts Artists Committee Member Jeff Koons. The National Arts Award itself was designed by Mr. Koons in 2009—who himself received the National Arts Award for Artistic Achievement in 2006.
“The recipients of the National Arts Awards represent a deep commitment to the arts, and we are thrilled to be honoring such a tremendous group of artistic visionaries and leaders,” said Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert L. Lynch. “Sophia Loren, Lady Gaga, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Alice Walton, Herbie Hancock, and Maria Bell have all contributed enormously to America’s artistic and cultural legacy. Their persistence and extraordinary achievements have already served as an inspiration, and their work will continue to change the future of the arts in America for the better.”
Event Chair Carolyn Clark Powers commented, “I am honored to be chairing my first National Arts Awards and to celebrate the greatest artistic and cultural achievements in America. I, alongside Americans for the Arts, congratulate all of this year’s honorees for the indelible mark they have left on the cultural fabric of our nation.”
2015 National Arts Awards Honorees
Sophia LorenCarolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award
Lady GagaYoung Artist Award
Alice WaltonArts Education Award
Alice Walton is the founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and now serves as chairwoman of the museum’s Board of Directors. Ms. Walton is the youngest of four children born to the late Helen Walton and the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. An avid horsewoman, nature lover, and art collector, Ms. Walton envisioned creating a significant art museum in her hometown of Bentonville, AR, so that people of the region would have ready access to great works of art. She conceived Crystal Bridges as a celebration not only of American art and history, but of the Ozark landscape she loved and explored as a child, and planned to build the museum on land that had belonged to the Walton family. In 2005, she involved her family in her dream for Crystal Bridges, and the Walton Family Foundation agreed to fund the project.
Nestled in 120-acres of Ozark woodlands—a gift from the Walton family to Crystal Bridges—the museum opened in 2011 with the mission of welcoming all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.
Since that time, the museum has welcomed more than two million visitors and garnered more than 9,000 households in its membership. More than 84,000 schoolchildren have taken part in the museum’s school visit program. Ms. Walton serves as board chairwoman, playing an active role in the museum’s goal of exploring the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities. In addition, Crystal Bridges also initiated ground-breaking arts education and research programs that have helped to shape the field. 
The establishment of the museum and its impact within the region has prompted numerous accolades for Ms. Walton, including Headliner of the Year by the Arkansas Press Association, inclusion on the 2012 “TIME 100” list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Medal. Ms. Walton serves as a member of the board of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth and is a member of the Trustees’ Council of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She currently lives in central Texas.
Ms. Walton graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio with a B.A. in economics and finance. She has remained committed to improving the quality of life in her home state and is actively involved in philanthropy as a board member of the Walton Family Foundation. In 2012 the University of Arkansas granted her an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters. Ms. Walton was presented with the 2014 Leonore and Walter Annenberg Award for Diplomacy through the Arts from The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies in a ceremony hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Herbie HancockOutstanding Contributions to the Arts Award
Herbie Hancock’s illustrious career has spanned five decades and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year in 2007 for River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell; he is one of only a handful of jazz musicians ever to receive that honor.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Mr. Hancock was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, and also developed a passion for electronics and science, double-majoring in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.
In 1960, he was discovered by trumpeter Donald Byrd, and in 1963, Miles Davis invited him to join the Miles Davis Quintet. After leaving the group, he put together a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded Head Hunters. With its crossover hit single “Chameleon,” it became the first jazz album to go platinum. He won an Oscar in 1986 for scoring the film Round Midnight, in which he also appeared as an actor. Numerous television appearances over the years led to two hosting assignments in the 1980s: Rock School on PBS and Showtime's Coast To Coast.
The legendary Headhunters reunited in 1998, recording an album and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the recording and release of Gershwin's World, which included collaborators as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea; the album won three Grammys in 1999. 
He joined with Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker in 2002 to record a live concert album, Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall, a tribute to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. In 2005, he played a number of concert dates with a re-staffed Headhunters and became the first-ever Artist-In-Residence at the Tennessee-based festival Bonnaroo.
In 2010 Mr. Hancock released the critically-acclaimed Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project, utilizing the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility. Hancock is an activist and advocate, promoting jazz education and performance as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and serving as co-President of the International Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), which he co-founded, alongside other artists, in 2002. In 2011 he was designated an honorary UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of his “dedication to the promotion of peace through dialogue, culture, and the arts.” 
Recently named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair for Jazz, Mr. Hancock was awarded the much esteemed Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in 2011, and in 2013 he was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Joan and Irwin Jacobs – Philanthropy in the Arts Award
Irwin Jacobs is the founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, Inc., where he pioneered and led the commercialization of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, the basis for all third generation cellular communications technology. Today, Qualcomm is the world’s largest fabless semiconductor producer and the largest provider of wireless chipset and software technology. He was previously a professor of engineering, first at MIT and later at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), now home to the Jacobs School of Engineering. Dr. Jacobs has received numerous prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton for his vision and extraordinary success as an engineer and business leader. 
Joan Jacobs is a graduate of Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, and with her husband, a global philanthropist and patron of the arts. At UCSD, she served on the Board of Overseers and as a trustee and former vice chair of the UCSD Foundation. She serves on the Executive Committee of the La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD in addition to being a director on their board and is a founding member of the university’s Stuart Collection. She is a tireless proponent of the arts in San Diego, having served as chair of the Gold Ribbon Patrons, a fund-raising group for the San Diego Symphony, and is presently the chairwoman of the San Diego Symphony’s Endowment Foundation and chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s International Collectors Committee. She is the 2015 recipient of the Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award from Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.
Irwin and Joan Jacobs are Presidential Councillors for Cornell University and Dr. Jacobs serves on the steering committee for Cornell NYC Tech. In 2013, they made a landmark gift to establish the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell NYC Tech—the embodiment of Cornell’s and the Technion’s partnership at the new campus. 
In the field of arts and culture in their adopted hometown, the Jacobs have been significant contributors to the San Diego Symphony, KPBS, San Diego’s public TV and radio station, the La Jolla Playhouse, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, among many others. 
On October 15, 2015, they will receive the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, given every two years to individuals who, like Andrew Carnegie, have dedicated their private wealth to the public good and who have impressive careers as philanthropists.
Maria Bell – Legacy Award
Maria Bell is a television writer and producer who recently founded Vitameatavegamin Productions to develop projects for feature film, television, and new media. She is an Emmy Award-winning writer and the former executive producer and head writer of the daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. Under her tenure the show was number one by the widest margin in its history, and her team won the Writers Guild of America award in 2010 and 2012 and the Emmy in 2011.
Ms. Bell’s humorous essays have been published for publications such as “T” the New York Times Style Magazine, “C” Magazine, Aspen Magazine, and Aspen Peak Magazine. 
She grew up in Newport Beach, CA, and received a B.A. in art history from Northwestern University and did post graduate work in 19th-century art. Her first career was as a fashion designer for a major Los Angeles based garment manufacturer.
She serves on the board of many arts-related nonprofits including Americans for the Arts, where she helped raise more than $10 million dollars to further the arts in America as the decade long chair of the National Arts Awards. Since 2001, she has been on the board of P.S. ARTS in Los Angeles, which provides arts education to nearly 14,000 children in California Title I public schools. She was chair of that board for six years and for the last five years has been its president. She has also served as chair for P.S. ARTS’ signature fundraiser event, “Express Yourself.” for more than ten years. Recently, Ms. Bell completed a four-year tenure as co-chair of the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where she chaired five of its most successful fundraising galas. She is also on the boards of the Friends of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and has previously served on the boards of the Center Dance Arts, Los Angeles and the Dicapo Opera Theater, New York.
Ms. Bell was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission in October 2012 and is a former California State commissioner, appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the Commission for the Status of Women, which advises the legislature on issues that affect women and girls.
Ms. Bell resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
The National Arts Awards has garnered the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations across the country. Americans for the Arts extends special gratitude to: Arison Arts Foundation, Carolyn Clark Powers, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, American Express, Gagosian Gallery, Agnes Gund, The Herb Alpert Foundation, and The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Rick Rosenthal and Nancy Stephens, and Jamie Rosenthal Wolf and David Wolf. The board and staff would also like to thank Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the 2015 National Arts Awards, for its generous support. 
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at