Americans for the Arts, the leading organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, celebrated the 56th Annual 2016 National Arts Awards on Monday, October 17th, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The awards recognized artists and arts leaders who exhibit exemplary national leadership and whose work demonstrates extraordinary achievement across the USA. All proceeds help support American for the Arts’ core programs and activities, which serve the needs of more than 150,000 members and stakeholders across the country each year. This year, the event raised over $700,000 for the Arts.

The black tie event welcomed Carolyn Clark Powers for her second year as the National Arts Awards Chair and as the namesake of its Lifetime Achievement Award. She served alongside AFTA CEO Robert L. Lynch and co-chairs Sarah Arison, Justine and Jeff Koons, Martha Goode Mielnik, and Nora C. Orphanides.

The 2016 awards were presented to iconic artist and musician Tony Bennett, Grammy-winning musician and composer Esperanza Spalding; artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken; renown philanthropist Roselyne “Sissy” Chroman Swig; Arts activists and philanthropists Susan and David Goode; and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, accepted by Felice Mancini, President.

The evening began with an elegant cocktail reception, with artwork on view by visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and a special musical performance by YoungArts alumni.

The honoring ceremony began with drummer musician Terri Lyne Carrington, who presented the Ted Arison Young Artist Award to Esperanza Spalding, followed by the presentation of the Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award to Doug Aitken by Kerry Brougher. Local high school student and violinist Brianna Perez presented the Arts Education Award to The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, accepted by its President, Felice Mancini. Susan and David Goode accepted the Legacy Award presented by Virginian orchestral conductor JoAnn Falletta. Roselyne Chroman Swig was awarded the Philanthropy in the Arts Award, and to conclude the evening, politician Nancy Pelosi presented Carolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award to the legendary Tony Bennett.

Guests of the nation’s top opinion leaders and art world luminaries gathered to celebrate the 2016 honorees, including:

Jeff & Justine Koons, Carla Dirlikov Canales, Ginny Mancini, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Walton Ford, Gaetano Pesce

Charmaine Warmenhoven, Bill Lehr, Floyd Green, Sarah Arison, Leslie Blanton, Carolyn ClarkPowers
Nancy Stephens, Deborah Jordy, Dorothy McSweeny, Glen Howard, Susan Goode, Julie Muraco, Abel Lopez

Mickey Conlon, Tom Postillo, Robert Alemany, Sarah Arison, Susan Benedetto, Danny Benedetto, Julia Blaut, Kerry Brougher, Elizabeth Broun, Priscilla Burbank, Otto Cappel, Robert W. Cross, Debra Wendells Cross, , Laura Doyle, Pierre Dulaine, Gail Engelberg, Alfred Engelberg, Renee Erikson Wong, JoAnn Falletta, Ana Hughes-Freund, Marc Glimcher, Richard M. Golden, Christina Goode, Leo Goodman, Patricia Goodwin, Christy Gordon, Sheldon Gordon, London Griffith, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Linda Johnson, Lilly Karatz, Bruce Karatz, Gabe Kosakoff, Bruce Lebowitz, Daniel Libeskind, Nina Libeskind, Monica Mancini, Yvonne Marceau, Virginia McEnerney, Ryan McGinness, Deanna McGovern, Antonio Miniño, Pat Mitchell, Tim Mondavi, Walter Mosley, Megan Nimerosky, Alexander Nyerges, Anne Pasternak, Walter Robinson, Lisa Rosen, David Rothkopf, Colleen Russell Criste, Mary Ryan, Mike Schewel, Joseph Singer, Randolph Skrha, Kashina Spalding, Nancy, Stephens, Kent Swig, Marjorie Swig, Mish Tworkowski, Robert Wong

The National Arts Awards have been presented by Americans for the Arts since 1996. Past honorees include (among others): Edward Albee, Herb Alpert, Marian Anderson, Dame Julie Andrews, Wallis Annenberg, Lin Arison, George Balanchine, John Baldessari, Alec Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Sofia Coppola, Dakota Fanning, Aretha Franklin, Martha Graham, Frank O. Gehry, Josh Groban, Agnes Gund, Jake Gyllenhaal, Helen Hayes, Martha Rivers Ingram, Judith Jamison, Sheila C. Johnson, Ellsworth Kelly, B.B. King, Jeff Koons, 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 Rauschenberg, Robert Redford, Ed Ruscha, Salman Rushdie, Martin Scorsese, Joel Shapiro, 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.

The National Arts Awards has garnered the support of individuals, foundations and corporations across the country. Americans for the Arts extends special gratitude to: Sarah Arison, Carolyn Clark Powers, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, The Herb Alpert Foundation, American Express, Gagosian Gallery, and Agnes Gund. The board and staff would also like to thank Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the 2015 National Arts Awards, for its generous support. View the National Arts Awards Archive to learn more about previous honorees.

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 50 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

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