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National Arts Awards Announced For Americans for the Arts 2012

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Americans for the Arts, the leading organisation for advancing the arts and arts education in the United States, has announced the recipients of the 2012 National Arts Awards. The annual awards recognise artists and arts leaders who exhibit exemplary national leadership and whose work demonstrates extraordinary artistic achievement.

The awards will be presented on October 15 as part of a by-invitation benefit at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City during National Arts and Humanities Month, the largest annual celebration for the arts and humanities in America. Celebrated dancer and choreographer and former National Arts Awards honoree for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Mikhail Baryshnikov and world-renowned American sculptor Richard Serra will be among the presenters. In addition, the evening will feature installations of work by world-renowned visual artist Julie Mehretu and a special musical performance by YoungArts.  The award itself was designed in 2010 by Americans for the Arts’ Artists Committee member, former National Arts Awards honoree for Artistic Achievement and international art world figure Jeff Koons.

Past honourees of The National Arts Awards include: Edward Albee, Herb Alpert, Marian Anderson, Dame Julie Andrews, Wallis Annenberg, George Balanchine, John Baldessari, Alec Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Aretha Franklin, Martha Graham, Frank O. Gehry, Agnes Gund, Jake Gyllenhaal, Helen Hayes, Martha Rivers Ingram, Judith Jamison, Sheila C. Johnson, Ellsworth Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Jacob Lawrence, John Legend, Gerald M. Levin, Wynton Marsalis, Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte), Yoko Ono, Joseph Papp, Natalie Portman, Phil Ramone, Robert Redford, Salman Rushdie, Martin Scorsese, Cindy Sherman, Beverly Sills, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Sondheim, David Rockefeller, Sr., Isaac Stern, Billy Taylor, Paul Taylor, Uma Thurman, Kerry  Washington, Wendy Wasserstein, Sanford I. Weill and Kehinde Wiley.

2012 National Arts Award Honourees

Paul G. Allen – Eli & Edythe Broad Award for Philanthropy in the Arts
Paul G. Allen is a technologist and leading philanthropist who started Microsoft with Bill Gates. He is founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., the company that oversees his business and philanthropic activities.  With lifetime giving of more than $1.5 billion, Allen has pledged to leave a majority of his estate to philanthropy. He gives back to the community through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which works to transform individual lives and strengthen communities by supporting arts and culture, youth engagement, community development and social change, and scientific and technological innovation. He is also founder of the EMP Museum, Seattle's critically acclaimed interactive museum of music, popular culture and science fiction; the Flying Heritage Collection, an assemblage of rare World War II aircraft restored to flying condition and shared with the public; and the Living Computer Museum, a collection of restored vintage timesharing computer equipment.

James Rosenquist – Isabella and Theodor Dalenson Lifetime Achievement Award
American painter, printmaker and sculptor James Rosenquist is one of the early leaders of the Pop Art movement.  His treatment of typical Pop subject-matter such as sex and consumerism had little in common with the directness and immediacy of work by his Pop contemporaries, including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.  Rosenquist was also unusual among Pop artists in his overt involvement with political themes in works such as "Star Thief," "Horse Blinders" “Military Intelligence” and his most famous work, "F-111," a huge painting occupying the four walls of a room on 51 canvases.  In addition to painting, he has produced a vast array of prints, drawings, and collages; his print, "Time Dust" is thought to be one of the largest prints in the world.  Rosenquist has received numerous honors. He was appointed in 1978 to a six-year term on the Board of the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts and is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1987.  There have been 15 retrospectives of his work, in countries including Russia, Spain and Germany, with four being presented by Guggenheim Museums throughout the world and two by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Brian Stokes Mitchell – Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award
Powerful baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell has enjoyed a rich and varied career on television and film and has been one of the leading men of Broadway theatre since the early 1990’s. His musical versatility has kept him in demand by some of the country’s finest conductors and orchestras and has resulted in several appearances in the great American concert halls. He has been nominated for the Tony Award® for his performances in “Man of La Mancha,”  “Ragtime” and “King Hedley II,” ultimately winning the award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2000 for his performance in “Kiss Me, Kate.” In 1998, he joined the likes of Helen Hayes, Sir John Gielgud, Alec Guinness and James Earl Jones when he became the sole recipient of that year’s Distinguished Performance Award from the Drama League, the nation’s oldest theatrical honor, for his performance in “Ragtime.” A member of Americans for the Arts’ Artists Committee, Stokes has enjoyed working with numerous charitable organizations from the March of Dimes to the USO and is the nine-year Chairman of the Board of The Actor’s Fund.  Mitchell is being recognized not only for his stellar career as an artist, but for his commitment to advocacy and artists’ rights.

Josh Groban –   Bell Family Foundation Young Artist Award
Josh Groban is an internationally renowned singer, songwriter and actor whose baritone voice is instantly recognizable and unparalleled among his peers. He has entertained fans across the globe with his multiplatinum albums and DVDs, electrifying live performances, and comedic film and television appearances. Josh is the only artist who has had two albums in the 20 best sellers over the last 10 years. The  31-year-old Los Angeles native first broke through in 2001 with his self-titled double-platinum debut album, followed by 2003’s multi-platinum “Closer” and 2006’s double-platinum “Awake.” In 2007, he became the best-selling recording artist of the year. His most recent album “Illuminations,” was also certified platinum. Most recently, he completed an 81-date world tour and appeared in the feature film Crazy, Stupid, Love., as well as on NBC’s The Office. An active arts education philanthropist and advocate, Groban, a member of Americans for the Arts’ Artists Committee, founded his Find Your Light foundation in partnership with Americans for the Arts in 2011. Find Your Light Foundation helps enrich the lives of young people through arts, education and cultural awareness. It covers a wide array of possibilities, from providing instruments and funding for arts programs in schools to introducing people to the arts and culture around them —and even the world — through the use of technology.

Lin Arison – Arts Education Award
Lin Arison has dedicated her life to the advancement of the arts and the support of young and developing artists. In 1981, she and her late husband Ted Arison established the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) and its core program YoungArts, which identifies, recognizes and supports America’s most talented young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts. YoungArts exclusively nominates the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, the highest scholastic honor available to graduating high school seniors, chosen by the White House appointed Commission on Presidential Scholars.  In 1988, the Arisons joined with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas to found the New World Symphony, whose goal is to educate young, gifted instrumentalists for leadership roles in orchestras and ensembles around the world. Arison is the Executive Producer of the Emmy®-nominated mini-series, YoungArts MasterClass on HBO, which premiered in April 2010, presented nine masters working with YoungArts alumni including Plácido Domingo, Liv Ullmann, Julian Schnabel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jacques d’Amboise, Bill T. Jones, Olafur Eliasson, Frank O. Gehry and Edward Albee. Future episodes include Renée Fleming, James Rosenquist, John Guare, Bobby McFerrin, Patti LuPone and Bruce Weber. YoungArts is working with Columbia University’s Teachers College to develop curriculum to accompany the YoungArts MasterClass series. In addition, Arison was also the Executive Producer of the Academy Award®-winning film, Strangers No More, as well as being a noted author.

The National Arts Awards has garnered the support of individuals, foundations and corporations across the country. Americans for the Arts extends special gratitude to: The Bell Family Foundation, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Isabella and Theodor Dalenson and The Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation for their generosity.

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