Everyone in New York knows that the Brooklyn Academy of Music is a treasure. Now the United States government has officially recognized BAM’s cultural significance, awarding it with a 2013 National Medal of Arts—the highest honor specifically given for achievement in the arts in the country, given annually to those 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 award comes with a sizable endowment.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established by the Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the federal government. According to the White House press release, to date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. Over the years, the award has honored a wide range of individual artists (including recent recipients Tony Kushner, George Lucas, Harper Lee, Al Pacino, Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones, and Twyla Tharp) and culturally significant institutions and organizations, such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The School of American Ballet, Oberlin Conservatory, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the United Service Organization.
In addition to BAM, this year’s winners include DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, documentarian Albert Maysles, artist James Turrell, Chinese-American writer Maxine Hong Kingston, and singer/songwriter Linda Ronstadt. BAM is the only group to receive the National Medal of Arts this year. All of the recipients will be honored by President Obama at the White House on Monday, July 28.
In a press release, BAM said: “We believe the choice of BAM for this honor reflects the hard work of the brilliant artists who have graced our stages and screens, the hundreds of arts administrators and board members who have given the institution their service, the many generous donors and loyal audiences who believed in the potential of our organization over many years, and, of course, our beloved Borough of Brooklyn and the City of New York, whose leaders have provided the resources for BAM to thrive. Thank you!”