NYC Mayor BloombergNEW YORK CITY, N.Y. /New York Netwire/ — N.Y. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winner Whoopi Goldberg yesterday presented the Mayor’s Awards for Arts & Culture to six individuals and organizations in celebration of their outstanding contributions to New York City’s cultural life. The Mayor also presented the NYC Handel Medallion, New York City’s highest award for achievement in the arts, to Harvey Lichtenstein.

Recipients of the Mayor’s Awards were Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School Principal Anthony Armstrong; the Ford Foundation; Philip Glass; Edward Norton; the St. George Theatre; and Fred Wilson. The event was held at New York City Center. The Mayor was joined at the awards ceremony by First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and Cultural Advisory Commission Chair Agnes Gund. The event featured performances and appearances by special guest artists.

“Artists and cultural organizations are vital to New York City’s identity as an international destination to live, work and visit,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Tonight’s awards give us a chance to recognize the achievements of some of the individuals and institutions that do so much to ensure that New York City remains the place to be for artists and audiences from across the five boroughs and beyond. I’m thrilled to present the Handel Medallion to Harvey Lichtenstein, one of the consummate arts administrators of our time whose incredible success in promoting innovative artists of all disciplines has helped transformed our City’s creative landscape.”

“New York City’s exceptional public support for the arts helps ensure that the City remains the premier destination to experience talented artists and fantastic programs,” said Whoopi Goldberg. “It was an honor to co-host the Mayor’s Awards with Mayor Bloomberg, and to recognize a few of the individuals and organizations whose contributions to the arts inspire so many lives each year.”

“The Bloomberg Administration is proud to invest in the City’s cultural community because we recognize its importance to our economy, New Yorkers’ quality of life and the tourism sector,” said First Deputy Harris. “The Mayor’s Awards for Art and Culture give us an opportunity to celebrate the creativity of our artists, arts organizations, educators and philanthropies and highlight their essential achievements.”

The NYC Handel Medallion was established in 1959 by Mayor Robert F. Wagner to honor outstanding achievement in the fields of art and music. Named for the composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), the award was first presented at the Handel Festival, a series of 32 concerts held in New York City in 1959 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Handel’s death. Past NYC Handel Medallion recipients have included Stephen Sondheim, Alvin Ailey, Benny Goodman, Richard Rodgers, Charlie Chaplin, Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horne, Merce Cunningham and Neil Simon.

Harvey Lichtenstein has been a leader in shaping the contemporary performing and visual arts for over 50 years. Following a robust career dancing in the companies of Sophie Maslow, Pearl Lang, and Mark Ryder-Emily Frankel, he held administrative positions at New York City Ballet and New York City Opera. In 1967 he returned to his native Brooklyn and began a 32-year tenure as President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). While at BAM, his work with artists, emphasis on collaboration, and attention to audience and community building changed the cultural landscape of New York and redefined the role of performing art centers in the U.S. As producer, mentor and advocate, Lichtenstein has played a crucial role in the careers of countless artists, including Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris, Steve Reich, Elizabeth Streb, and Robert Wilson. Lichtenstein’s vision for the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, now home to more than 40 cultural organizations, has been a catalyst to the resurgence of Brooklyn and consolidated New York City’s position as home to artists and audiences from across the street and around the world.

The Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture were created in 1976, when the Department of Cultural Affairs was founded, and given annually until 1994. Mayor Bloomberg revived the awards in 2004 with the assistance of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, whose members are a diverse and distinguished group of advocates for the City’s nonprofit cultural community. The Awards acknowledge and celebrate the role individual artists, arts educators, cultural organizations, corporations and philanthropists play in the public-private partnerships that sustain the City’s creative vitality and economic well-being.

“The creativity on display at this exciting event reminds us of how lucky we are to live in New York City amidst the world’s greatest artists, educators and cultural organizations,” said Ms. Gund. “The Commission is proud partner with Mayor Bloomberg on the Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture and build on the amazing work Commissioner Levin and her staff do helping our City’s cultural community flourish.”

“The Mayor’s Awards are the City’s way of saying thanks to the cultural community and highlighting some of the extraordinary artists, cultural organizations and individuals whose contributions are so meaningful to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin. “We are deeply grateful to Agnes Gund and the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission for their dedicated leadership as we work to serve, support and advocate on behalf of our outstanding nonprofit cultural organizations.”

The ceremony featured live appearances by Laurie Anderson, Andre Gregory, Bill T. Jones, Mighty String Demons directed by Sanchie Bobrow, Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes of the Monica Bill Barnes & Company, Mark Morris, music by Philip Glass, Laura Dreyfuss and Ben Hope from the musical ONCE, Steve Reich with Garry Kvistad, Elizabeth Streb, Taikoza, ¡Retumba!, Ujamaa Pan Sound, and Yianni Papastefanou and Orchestra. Generous lead sponsorship was provided by Bank of America. Underwriting for the event was graciously made possible by Agnes Gund, with additional special thanks to The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. The Mayor’s Awards for Arts & Culture were also supported by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., Michael Lynne and Bedell Cellars, and Shai Tertner of Shiraz Events.

“The Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture recognize the outstanding individuals and organizations who are helping to ensure that New York City remains a culturally enriching place to live and visit,” said Jeff Barker, New York City president, Bank of America. “We remain committed to a diverse program of cultural support, as the arts can help bolster the local economy and strengthen communities.”

Mayor’s Awards Recipients

Anthony Armstrong
For his extraordinary leadership as Principal of JS 074, a public middle school made more dynamic by integrating the arts into the academic experience of the entire student body. Under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, students learn studio art, graphic art and design, drama, dance, choral music, instrumental music and music theory classes, taught by full-time art teachers. Furthermore, Mr. Armstrong is helping to cultivate young audiences through extra-curricular activities led by nonprofit cultural partners including Lincoln Center Theater and Flushing Town Hall.

Ford Foundation
For more than 75 years of outstanding philanthropic work, expanding support for arts spaces, leadership and programming that reflect the creative richness and diversity of communities across New York City and beyond. Recent New York City cultural projects funded by Ford Foundation include East Harlem’s P.S. 109 building which will be converted by Artspace into affordable live/work space for artists; renovation of the Public Theater; the new BAM Fisher Theater; New York City Center’s Fall for Dance festival; the research and creation of the international “World Cities Culture Report”; and Caribbean: Crossroads of the World a trailblazing collaborative exhibition presented at Queens Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem and El Museo Del Barrio.

Philip Glass
For his prolific and hugely influential career as an internationally-celebrated composer and performer. Mr. Glass’s repertoire includes music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His innovative scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show), and his music continues to be performed around the world.

Edward Norton
For his tremendous contributions to New York City’s cultural and civic life, playing a prominent role supporting a wide range of nonprofit organizations and delighting audiences in outstanding film and theater performances. A two-time Academy Award nominated actor and filmmaker, Mr. Norton has starred in, produced, written, or directed over 30 films. He is also a committed social and environmental activist who has played a prominent role in the civic life of New York City, where he has lived for over 20 years.

St. George Theatre
For serving as one of New York City’s liveliest nonprofit performing arts venues, lovingly restored by the late Rosemary Cappozalo and her daughters to provide audiences from New York City and beyond with world-class performances and vital community programming.

Fred Wilson
For his remarkable career as a visual artist, presenting innovative, thought-provoking work that has redefined how we understand the nature and role of cultural institutions, and for his extraordinary contributions to the international artistic landscape and New York City’s own vibrant Percent for Art collection. Mr. Wilson’s dynamic pieces have been the subject of many solo exhibitions and retrospectives including, the critically acclaimed Mining the Museum, sponsored by the Contemporary Museum at The Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore (1992-93), Fred Wilson, Objects and Installations 1979–2000 which traveled to eight different venues nationally from 2001-2004, and Fred Wilson: Speak of Me as I Am (2003) a solo exhibition at the 50th Venice Biennale at which Mr. Wilson represented the United States.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is the largest funder of the arts in the United States. The agency supports and sustains New York City’s cultural life by investing in programs, operations and capital improvements at nonprofit cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs. The agency also supports the City’s cultural community through extensive technical assistance and advocacy, working closely with the field to articulate the profound impact of culture on New York City’s quality of life and economy.