President Obama to Award 2013 National Medals of Arts: Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) Joan Harris has been awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts

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Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) is pleased to share the news below.  Aspen and Chicago resident Joan Harris has been awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts. Joan Harris has served as the head of the AMFS National Council, as a member of the Board of Trustees (including a term as Board Chair), as a campaign chair, and in an ongoing capacity as an Honorary Trustee.
The impact of Joan and Irving Harris on the Aspen Music Festival and School over the past forty years has been nothing short of transformational. Their financial support laid the cornerstone in fundraising for Harris Concert Hall (named after them) and the Benedict Music Tent. Those buildings have transformed the organization’s image, operations, and artistic impact.


Joan’s generosity also extends to creating scholarship opportunities for minority students, many of whom would not have been able to attend Aspen without financial aid.



President Obama to Award 2013 National Medals of Arts

Awards Ceremony will be live streamed at



The National Medal of Arts, designed by Robert Graham, and awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.

July 22, 2014

Washington, DC — President Barack Obama will present the National Medals of Arts in conjunction with the National Humanities Medals on Monday, July 28, 2014, at 3:00 p.m. ET, in an East Room ceremony at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend. The event will be live streamed at

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “Whether it’s animation or architecture, writing or music, these artists’ creativity and passion have made an enormous impact on our nation. I join the President in congratulating them and celebrating the arts in our country.”

The official citations for the 2013 National Medal of Arts recipients are:

  • Julia Alvarez, novelist, poet, and essayist, for her extraordinary storytelling. In poetry and in prose, Ms. Alvarez explores themes of identity, family, and cultural divides. She illustrates the complexity of navigating two worlds and reveals the human capacity for strength in the face of oppression.
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music, presenter, for innovative contributions to the performing and visual arts. For over 150 years, BAM has showcased the works of both established visionaries and emerging artists who take risks and push boundaries.
  • Joan Harris, arts patron, for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country. Her decades of leadership and generosity have enriched our cultural life and helped countless artists, dancers, singers, and musicians bring their talents to center stage.
  • Bill T. Jones, dancer and choreographer, for his contributions as a dancer and choreographer. Renowned for provocative performances that blend an eclectic mix of modern and traditional dance, Mr. Jones creates works that challenge us to confront tough subjects and inspire us to greater heights.
  • John Kander, musical theater composer, for his contributions as a composer. For more than half a century, Mr. Kander has enlivened Broadway, television, and film through songs that evoke romanticism and wonder and capture moral dilemmas that persist across generations.
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, director and CEO of DreamWorks, for lighting up our screens and opening our hearts through animation and cinema. Mr. Katzenberg has embraced new technology to develop the art of storytelling and transform the way we experience film.
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, writer, for her contributions as a writer. Her novels and non-fiction have examined how the past influences our present, and her voice has strengthened our understanding of Asian American identity, helping shape our national conversation about culture, gender, and race.
  • Albert Maysles, documentary filmmaker, for rethinking and remaking documentary film in America. One of the pioneers of direct cinema, he has offered authentic depictions of people and communities across the globe for nearly 60 years. By capturing raw emotions and representations, his work reflects the unfiltered truths of our shared humanity.
  • Linda Ronstadt, musician, for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music. Drawing from a broad range of influences, Ms. Ronstadt defied expectations to conquer American radio waves and help pave the way for generations of women artists.
  • Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, architects (receiving individual medals), for their contributions to architecture and arts education. Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions.
  • James Turrell, visual artist, recognized for his groundbreaking visual art. Capturing the powers of light and space, Mr. Turrell builds experiences that force us to question reality, challenging our perceptions not only of art, but also of the world around us.


The NEA has podcasts with Julia Alvarez and Maxine Hong Kingston, as well as an interview with Bill T. Jones. Please see additional information on the National Medal of Arts on the NEA website.


The 2013 National Humanities Medals will be presented at the same ceremony. Among the recipients is producer and director Stanley Nelson. The NEA has a podcast with Nelson about his film Freedom Riders.


The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government. It is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.


The National Endowment for the Arts manages the nomination process on behalf of the White House. Each year, the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the Arts Endowment’s presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at


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