National Medal of Arts to go to Morgan Freeman, Philip Glass, Luis Valdez

Actor Morgan Freeman is a recipient of this year's National Medal of Arts, the country's highest honor for artists and arts patrons.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Morgan Freeman, composer Philip Glass and “Zoot Suit” playwright Luis Valdez will be among the 12 recipients of the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government.

President Obama is scheduled to attend the annual ceremony, set to take place at the White House on Sept. 22.

The other honorees this year are filmmaker Mel Brooks, Broadway actress Audra McDonald, Motown musician Berry Gordy, dancer Ralph Lemon, playwright-director Moises Kaufman, painter Jack Whitten, musician Santiago Jiménez Jr. and author Sandra Cisneros. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut is also among the honorees.


This year’s recipients “have helped to define our nation’s cultural legacy through the artistic excellence of their creative traditions,” Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said in a statement.

The award was established by Congress in 1984, on the recommendation of President Reagan and the president’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Although the NEA manages the nomination process for the award each year, the president chooses the recipients based on recommendations from the National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory board.


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