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.
This year’s National Arts Awards recipients are:
Tony Bennett – Carolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Roselyne Chroman Swig – Philanthropy in the Arts Award, presented by Elizabeth Broun
Susan and David Goode – Legacy Award, presented by JoAnn Falletta
Doug Aitken – Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award, presented by Kerry Brougher
Esperanza Spalding – Ted Arison Young Artist Award, presented by Sting
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation – Arts Education Award, presented by Brianna Perez
The 2016 National Arts Awards will be presented on Monday, October 17th at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City as part of National Arts and Humanities Month. The evening will feature the work of visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and a special musical performance by alumni of the National YoungArts Foundation, with musical direction by Jake Goldbas.
Award presenters include 16-time Grammy award-winning singer, composer, author, actor, and activist Sting; Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi; founding director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Kerry Brougher; Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery Elizabeth Broun; Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra music director JoAnn Falletta; and musician and high school student Brianna Perez.
Carolyn Clark Powers will serve as event chair for her second year, alongside co-chairs Sarah Arison, Martha Goode Mielnik, Justine and Jeff Koons, and Nora C. Orphanides. The award given at the National Arts Awards was designed by Mr. Koons in 2009, who himself received the National Arts Award for Artistic Achievement in 2006.
“Our honorees are a tremendous group of artistic visionaries that share a common belief in the power of the arts and arts education to enrich individual lives and communities alike,” said Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert L. Lynch. “I am thrilled to honor these leaders at the 2016 National Arts Awards, and I look forward to seeing their work continue to shape the future of the arts in America.”
Powers commented, “I am thrilled to once again serve as Chair for this important event which recognizes and celebrates all disciplines in the arts. As someone who was raised in a family immersed in American music history, I am delighted that we are honoring the legendary Tony Bennett, as well as the young and groundbreaking Esperanza Spalding. Doug Aitken is an exceptional visual artist who blends the boundaries between object, film, and architecture. As a champion of Arts Education, I am thrilled to be honoring the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation for their stalwart dedication to putting instruments into the hands of children in communities most in need; and my fellow philanthropists Roselyne ‘Cissie’ Swig and Susan and David Goode continue to set the bar for supporting the arts at the local, state, and national levels even higher. I am honored to share the stage with such a worthy and remarkable group of individuals.”
2016 National Arts Awards Honorees
Esperanza Spalding – Ted Arison Young Artist Award
Composer, bassist, and vocalist Esperanza Spalding is a four-time Grammy Award winner. In the past decade of her illustrious career (which involves having performed at the Oscars, the Grammys, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and several times at the White House), Ms. Spalding continually and brilliantly marries genres, pushes boundaries, and creates groundbreaking work. A channeled energy runs through her recorded catalog of seven collaborative and five solo albums. The most recent, Emily’s D+Evolution, is a fresh artistic vision for Spalding—a daring tapestry of music, vibrant imagery, performance art and stage design.
The New York Times mentions in their 2012 post-Best New Artist Grammy profile, Spalding “has made her mark not just as a virtuoso jazz bassist or an effortlessly nimble singer but as an exotic hybrid of the two. The very nature of her talent is exceptional.” Her album released that same year, Radio Music Society, debuted on the Billboard Top 10; The Guardian praised its “torchy swaggers." 2010’s Chamber Music Society was infused with what NPR dubbed “an ineffable brightness.” Preceding that was her eponymous Esperanza album, performed in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Following an inspirational episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that featured Yo-Yo Ma, Spalding pursued study of her first instrument, the violin. At age five, she was playing with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon in her hometown of Portland. By the time she exited the group at 15 as a concertmaster, she was composing and playing acoustic bass professionally with local bands. The latter became the instrument most central to her work: she joined her first band as a bassist and vocalist, Noise for Pretend, the same year she left the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Following the group’s run, Spalding became one of the youngest bassists at Portland State University. When that wasn’t ultimately a fit, she moved to and graduated from Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation at age 20, Spalding became the prestigious school’s youngest-ever instructor. Through her groundbreaking albums, she is still teaching those who listen.
Tony Bennett – Carolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award
Tony Bennett, who celebrated his 90th birthday in August, is one of only a handful of artists to have new albums charting in each of the last seven decades. He has introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become standards, and has received 19 Grammy Awards, including for his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
Born in Queens in 1926, as a ten-year-old Mr. Bennett sang for New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at the opening of the Triborough Bridge. Enlisting in the Army during World War II, he performed with military bands while stationed in Europe. His big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village.
In the new millennium, Mr. Bennett’s artistry and popularity has been higher than ever. In 2006, he released Duets: An American Classic. In 2011, Duets II debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album charts. His collaborative jazz album with Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek, released in 2014, debuted at #1 and made him, at the age of 88, the oldest artist to have a #1 album.
Mr. Bennett is a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master and was named a “Citizen of the World” by the United Nations. An accomplished painter, he has three works in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution and has authored five books. Driven by social justice and humanitarian concerns, Mr. Bennett accompanied Martin Luther King, Jr. on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta bestowed upon him their "Salute to Greatness Award" for his efforts in fighting racial discrimination. He also received the 2004 Arts Legacy Award from Americans for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which celebrated his commitment to art and community.
In 1999, Mr. Bennett, along with his wife Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, founded Exploring the Arts (ETA) to strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education. ETA’s first endeavor was the establishment of Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a public high school founded in 2001 in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. ETA currently partners with a network of 33 public high schools—27 in all five boroughs of New York City and 6 schools in East and South Central Los Angeles.
Doug Aitken – Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award
Doug Aitken is an American artist and filmmaker whose work explores every medium, from sculpture, film, and installations to architectural interventions. His work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Vienna Secession in Austria; the Serpentine Gallery in London; and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Mr. Aitken earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale for the installation electric earth in 1999, the 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize, and the 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award: Visual Arts.
Major projects include Sleepwalkers at MoMA in 2007, which covered the museum’s exterior with moving-image projection; Sonic Pavilion at the Brazilian cultural foundation INHOTIM, which opened in 2009; Frontier, on Rome’s Isola Tiberina and in Basel in 2009 and 2010 respectively; and Black Mirror, which featured a video installation and live performance on a barge floating off Athens and Hydra Island, Greece, in 2011. In 2012, SONG 1 wrapped the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, in a groundbreaking 360-degree panoramic video projection. The same year, his Altered Earth explored the ever-changing landscape of Arles, France, through moving image, sound, and architecture. In 2013, Mr. Aitken created MIRROR at the Seattle Art Museum, which utilized hundreds of hours of footage changing in real time in response to the world around it.
Mr. Aitken also curated Station to Station in 2013. This entailed an art- and artist-filled train which travelled from New York City to San Francisco engaging in a series of site-specific “Happenings” along its transcontinental route, and generated a feature film and book. Station to Station also took over the Barbican Centre in London in 2015 to create a month-long “Happening” featuring over 100 artists and other creative figures. In addition to his work as an art maker, Mr. Aitken conducts and publishes in-depth interviews about art and culture with creative figures and thinkers across disciplines.
In September 2016, a major mid-career survey of Mr. Aitken’s work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles.
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation – Arts Education Award
A movie that almost didn’t get made 20 years ago became the catalyst for the creation of a namesake nonprofit that has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people by giving them the opportunity to learn and play music in school – and keep music education strong and available to kids without the means and access to play.
The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation was inspired by the acclaimed motion picture of the same name, which told the story of the profound effect a dedicated music teacher had on generations of students. The film's composer, Michael Kamen, started the foundation in 1996 because of his commitment to the future of music education.
The foundation keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving economically-disadvantaged youth access to the many benefits of music education, helping them to be successful students, and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.
After 20 years of continuous support for music in our schools, the foundation has touched countless young lives, worked with more than 1,412 school music programs, and donated $20 million worth of musical instruments nationwide.
The foundation helps established school music programs in low-income communities that have vibrant curriculums and dedicated teachers, but which lack the resources to purchase new instruments and replace the ones they already have. Through strategic collaboration with committed school districts, music education is strengthened and sustained, and barriers to access removed for thousands of children each year nationwide.
Students who can't afford to rent an instrument and children on waiting lists are given an opportunity to join the program and play quality instruments. This improves their experience, inspires confidence, and increases skills and overall academic engagement. It has been statistically proven that students involved in music programs exhibit greater discipline, stronger social connections, and have higher attendance and graduation rates.
Susan and David Goode – Legacy Award
Mention the arts in the Commonwealth of Virginia and chances are the Goodes—Susan and David—are involved.
During their student days at Duke, Mrs. Goode, a choral singer raised in Wilmington, DE, introduced Mr. Goode from Vinton, VA, to the arts, a passion that has lasted throughout their 53 years of married life. Early in their life in Roanoke, as a young rail lawyer and fourth grade public school teacher, the Goodes began working with theater, music, and visual arts group, as well as collecting. Mrs. Goode sang and was a leader with the Roanoke Arts Museum and Mill Mountain Theater, and Mr. Goode chaired the Museum’s board and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. They were active in the creation of the O. Winston Link Photography Museum in Roanoke.
After moving to Norfolk, where Mr. Goode became CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Goodes continued their interest in the arts world. Mrs. Goode has been a mainstay for the Virginia Symphony and has also supported the Virginia Opera. The Goodes have been active with the Virginia Arts Festival from its founding. Both have served as trustees of the Chrysler Museum of Art, Mrs. Goode serving on its Collections Committee for the past 22 years and spearheading the preservation of the historic Moses Myers House. Mrs. Goode is also a trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and a tireless advocate for statewide activities and conservation. Mr. Goode is vice chair of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), and Mrs. Goode serves the City of Norfolk on its public arts board and on the Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Their theater interests include Virginia Stage and Old Dominion University (The Goode Theater). Mrs. Goode is a trustee of Virginia Wesleyan College where the School of Arts and Philosophy has recently been named in her honor. She has also established a Center for Education at the Dewitt Wallace Museum at Colonial Williamsburg and has established a performance fund for WHRO public radio and TV.
The Goodes have been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia with the Governor’s Arts Award. Nationally, Mr. Goode chaired the Business Committee for the Arts, and during his tenure as CEO of Norfolk Southern, the company was recognized as an innovative leader in bringing the arts to the workplace. Mrs. Goode has been a leader at Americans for the Arts for more than two decades, serving as a valued trustee and active committee member.
Roselyne Chroman Swig – Philanthropy in the Arts Award
Roselyne “Cissie” Chroman Swig has devoted more than five decades to philanthropic and community service at the local, national, and international levels, with a focus on the arts, women’s empowerment, political advocacy, world faith-based relief and education.
Ms. Swig is the founder and president of ComCon International as well as Roselyne C. Swig Artsource in San Francisco. She was appointed as director of the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies Program by President Clinton, serving from 1994-1997.
Among her arts leadership roles are her current positions on the board of the NPR Foundation and KQED Public Media for Northern California. Her other positions include: past president and trustee emeritus of the San Francisco Art Institute, past president of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives, member of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s board, past president of the San Francisco Arts Commission, and member of the San Francisco Library Commission. Ms. Swig previously served as co-chair of the Collector’s Committee at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In addition, she served on the American Council for the Arts, which merged with the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies to become Americans for the Arts in 1996.
She has been recognized on numerous occasions for her support of the arts, having received the Arts Medallion from San Francisco’s Museum of Performance & Design, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Patron of the Arts Award from the National Foundation of Jewish Culture. Ms. Swig was also a San Francisco Library Literary Laureate in 2016.
Ms. Swig attended the University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Los Angeles, as an undergraduate and has been awarded honorary degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute, the University of San Francisco, Mills College, and Santa Clara University. Most recently, she was a 2013 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University, and a recipient of a Bellagio Fellowship through the Rockefeller Foundation.
Ms. Swig is the widow of Richard Lewis Swig and has four children, twelve grandchildren and two grandsons-in-law.
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, American Express, The Herb Alpert Foundation, Martha Goode Mielnik and Blair Mielnik, 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 2016 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 55 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 www.AmericansForTheArts.org.