Ceremony Will Pay Tribute to Outstanding Arts Leaders, Organizations, and Collectives Spearheading Change in the Arts

Monday, October 3, 2022

Red graphic featuring a gold statuette shaped like a balloon animal bunny, and text that reads: National Arts Awards 2022.

Americans for the Arts today announced the National Arts Awards, held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, October 17 at Guastavino’s in New York City. The first National Arts Awards to take place since 2019, the ceremony is held as part of National Arts and Humanities Month and celebrates the landmark contributions and lasting legacies of artists, philanthropists, policymakers, civic leaders, and organizations to the cultural fabric of the nation. 

This year’s National Arts Awards honorees and presenters are:

Joy Harjo
Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Dr. Elizabeth Alexander

For Freedoms (co-founders Wyatt Gallery, Eric Gottesman, Hank Willis Thomas, and Michelle Woo)
Marina Kellen French Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award, presented by Jesse Williams  

Robert F. Smith
Philanthropy in the Arts Award, presented by Jon Batiste

The Gordon Parks Foundation
Arts Education Award, presented by LaToya Ruby Frazier

Darren Criss
Ted Arison Young Artist Award, presented by Lea Salonga

The National Arts Awards is chaired by Sarah Arison in her first year as Chair. Co-chairs of the event are the Herb Alpert Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, David and Susan Goode, Marina Kellen French, Agnes Gund, Jeff and Justine Koons, Kara Moore, Rick Rosenthal, Nancy Stephens, and Jamie Rosenthal Wolf.

The evening’s musical performances will be directed by Jake Goldbas and feature alumni of YoungArts, an organization chaired by Arison that awards teenage artists of excellence. Artist José Parlá will create an immersive visual environment for the ceremony.

Americans for the Arts President and CEO Nolen V. Bivens commented, “After a hiatus of two years, the 2022 National Arts Awards feel particularly special. This year represents a benchmark of growth for our organization and the entire arts sector as we respond to an increasingly difficult period for artists as they recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. The awardees we celebrate this year are tremendous artists, business leaders, and community members who help us better understand the American experience in both its potential and pitfalls, and who offer us pathways toward a more enlightened future with an equitable sense of justice. They are thought leaders and advocates, speaking directly to their communities while simultaneously cultivating connection and dialogue across all corners of American life.”

Arison commented, “We are thrilled to pay tribute to all of our honorees and to acknowledge their work in creating a more empathetic, connected, and just world. More than twenty years after the photographer and activist Gordon Parks received his award from Americans for the Arts for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts, it’s moving to witness the educational work that continues to be undertaken by the foundation in his name. The philanthropic work of Robert F. Smith is deserving of real recognition particularly for his expansive vision of public and youth programs, creating greater access to the arts today. The tireless work of For Freedoms represents one of the best examples we’ve seen in recent years of the power of art to advance meaningful political change. Darren Criss has been a shining star since his breakout role in ‘Glee,’ and in addition to his artistry, we applaud him for advocating on behalf of causes he believes in, such as his work with The Trevor Project and Rock the Vote. And of course, we are so excited to honor Joy Harjo of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award; her impact as the nation’s first Native American poet laureate feels inextricable from her role as a community leader, activist, and as an inspiration to us all.”

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 Arison Arts Foundation and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.  

Americans for the Arts is a national nonprofit organization that advances the arts and arts education advocacy in America. Based in Washington, D.C., it has a record of more than 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for everyone to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.