The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities announces the 23rd Annual Mayor's Arts Award winners. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty presided over his second Mayor's Arts Awards, the highest honor conferred by the District of Columbia in recognition of artistic excellence and service among artists, organizations and patrons in the District. The 23rd Annual Mayor's Arts Awards, a Millenium Stage presentation, was held on Monday, March 17 in the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Artists from throughout the city applied for the honor. Finalists were chosen by the 23rd Mayor's Arts Awards Advisory Jury. In the tradition of the Academy Awards, the winners were announced for the first time during the ceremony. Each year more than 1,200 dignitaries, arts enthusiasts and the general public pack the theater.
The evening's winners were awarded in the following areas:
- Excellence in an Artistic Discipline: Theater J
- Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education: The Choral Arts Society of Washington
- Outstanding Emerging Artist: Jonathan French
- Excellence in Service to the Arts: Cultural Development Corporation
- Innovation in the Arts: Washington National Opera and C. Brian Williams
The Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Arts Teacher was presented as well. The winners were Marla McLean (Visual Arts), Thomasena Allen (Music), and Lisa Elaine Johnson (Dance).
The program brought awareness to the presence and vitality of the arts community in the city through onstage performances by some of the finest talent in DC. The featured performers for this year's ceremony are:
- Dolores Kendrick, Poet Laureate of the District of Columbia
- Members of the Congressional Chorus, WPAS Children of the Gospel, Washington Girls Chorus, Washington Youth Choir, and Zemer Chai
- Renowned actor Robert Prosky accompanied by his son Andrew Prosky
- Hip-Hop artist Christylez
- CityDance Ensemble
- Jazz Harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet
- Legendary DC Doo-Wop ensemble, The Jewels
Since 1968, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has supported community development through the arts by promoting artistic excellence in the nation's capital. Since its inception in 1981, the Mayor's Arts Awards has honored some of the most outstanding artists and art patrons in our area. Past recipients of the Mayor's Arts Award include Leonard Slatkin, Roberta Flack, Shirley Horn and Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
Anthony Gittens, Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts says, "Washington's artistic talent rivals that of any major world-class city. The Mayor's Arts Award is our way of acknowledging the amazing contributions made to Washington's cultural vitality."