Robert Redford served as honorary chair of the 50th Anniversary celebration, and announced his commitment at the 2009 National Arts Awards. Below are some highlights of events and programs that were held in honor of our 50th Anniversary in 2010.

The National Arts Index

National Arts Index coverThe National Arts Index was the new annual measure of the health and vitality of arts in the United States covering the 11-year period from 1998 to 2008. The index is composed of 76 national-level indicators of arts and cultural activity showing the current condition and health of the arts. Go to ArtsBlog to hear a podcast.

imageThe Half-Century Summit, Americans for the Arts Annual Convention

In June in Baltimore, Maryland, more than 1,000 arts professionals, elected officials, community leaders, artists, educators, students, and corporate and foundation leaders gathered for the convention. The event afforded a broad spectrum of leaders the necessary tools to make a positive impact on their communities back home as well as an opportunity to plan for the dynamic future of the arts in America.

The local, state, and national arts fields saw tremendous growth and change in 50 years. During the Field Founders session at The Half-Century Summit (pdf, 99KB), leaders discussed legendary stories and their foretelling of the future. This session culminated a year-long research contract by Maryo Gard Ewell to create a chronology of the years that led to the founding of Americans for the Arts, and its earliest years as an organization.

Americans for the Arts 50th Anniversary Timeline

Capturing 50 years of history of Americans for the Arts, the timeline includes snapshots of moments in Americans for the Arts history. You can also view a 50-year timeline of national arts policy here.

Why Arts Matter Video Contest

The video contest imageviedo contest was created in honor of the 50th Anniversary. We asked you to celebrate the arts in America by creating a video that tells "Why the Arts Matter" to you, and you joined other people across the country who shared their inspirations, favorite art forms, and why the arts matter in their lives.

Winner:  Starting Artists, Inc. Marisa Catalina Casey, Executive Director
Read Marisa's guest blog post on ARTSblog
Grand Prize: Video shown on the MTV 44 1/2 screen in Times Square and Flip UltraHD Camcorder to capture the moment live.
Video: Art is...

Over 18 Winner:  Student Advocates for the Arts Daria Pennington & Jonathan Lewis
Prize: Flip UltraHD Camcorder
Video: You Need To Be An Arts Advocate - SAA

Under 18 Winner: Linzy Paige
Prize: Flip UltraHD Camcorder
Video: Why Arts Matter Video Contest

Other Commemorations of the 50th Anniversary

preview Arts Action Fund websiteThe Americans for the Arts Action Fund wanted your help to keep the arts in schools, improving the overall academic performance and test scores of our country's children and teaching them the creative skills they'll need to succeed in the 21st century. We asked you to be part of the largest grassroots arts advocacy movement in the country. In March 2010, we launched a new and improved website providing you with more information, tools, and opportunities to play your part and join the movement.

Arts Link, Americans for the Arts quarterly member newsletter launched a re-envisioned magazine format in the spring of 2010 featuring even more tools and examples from both Americans for the Arts and your peers in the arts field to educate, equip, and inspire you and your work to advance the arts.

National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast collective celebration of culture held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts. From arts center open houses to mayoral proclamations to banners and media coverage, communities across the United States joined together to recognize the importance of arts and culture in our daily lives. The winners of the "Why Arts Matter" video contest were announced during the 2010 NAHM in honor of Americans for the Arts 50th Anniversary.  We celebrated by partnering with emerging leaders to host Creative Conversations.

The United States House Representatives Honors and Salutes Americans for the Arts on its 50th Anniversary
On September 23, 2010 The United States House Representatives unanimously passed Resolution 1582 by voice vote: "Honoring and saluting Americans for the Arts on its 50th anniversary." Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) spoke to the accomplishments of Americans for the Arts in her introduction to the Resolution:

"I thank Americans for the Arts and all their wonderful staff and all the people that have devoted their working careers to this noble effort and for their wonderful, fine achievements over the past 50 years. I am sure that the next 50 will be filled with even more accomplishments, and that we will all continue to enjoy the richness that the arts provide to each of our lives."