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2019 Kennedy Center Arts Summit Returns This April

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Aspen Institute Arts Program, and Citizen University, presents the 2019 Kennedy Center Arts Summit: The Human Journey: Creating the Story of US. Taking place on Monday, April 29, 2019 at the Kennedy Center, the annual spring convening brings thought leaders from the arts and related fields together for conversation and connection.

This year's Arts Summit, "The Human Journey: Creating the Story of US," explores how stories-especially more inclusive stories beyond the dominant narrative-can reframe world views, foster empathy, and build a more equitable society. The theme is tied to the Kennedy Center's season-long exploration of The Human Journey, which seeks to promote deeper understanding of identity and the resilience of humankind to overcome conflict, adversity, prejudice, and injustices.

The day-long convening of experts, thought leaders, and masterful storytellers from numerous fields features curated panel presentations and breakout sessions centered on this year's theme of storytelling as an art, a tool, and a strategy for moving forward. These discussions are designed to challenge old ideas, spark new ones, and catalyze potent partnerships across disciplines. Performances and networking opportunities are interspersed throughout the day. See page 4 for the Arts Summit agenda.

Participants will include: New York Times best-selling author Jason Reynolds; writer, executive producer, and actor Ryan O'Connell; representatives of the Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project; producer of This American Life Stephanie Foo; members of The Moth, including Supervisor for Higher Education Initiatives Hanna Campbell; founder of StoryCorps and Sound Portraits Production Dave Isay; professor of psychology at Princeton University and 2017 MacArthur Fellow Betsy Levy Paluck; violinist and Citizen Artist Fellow Vijay Gupta; producer of Radiotopia and Ear Hustle Julie Shapiro; pianist, vocalist, and composer Amy K. Bormet; Social Impact Design Principal of Civic Creatives De Nichols; hip hop artist Mic Jordan; founder and CEO of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program Eric Liu; artist, photographer, and member of the San Quentin Prison Report Collective Nigel Poor; Co-Producer of Ear Hustle Earlonne Woods; Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein; Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.

Arts Summit also serves as a convening for the Kennedy Center's Citizen Artist Fellows. The Citizen Artist Fellows program recognizes artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities small and large. Launched as part of the Center's celebration of President John F. Kennedy's legacy through his ideals of courage, freedom, justice, service, and gratitude, the program is built honoring these enduring principles. Fellows receive opportunities to showcase their voice and work, as well as join in a year of learning and conversation centered on career development and impact. The 2018-2019 class of fellows (Justus Harris, Shaw Pong Liu, Omar Offendum, Donney Rose, and Rulan Tangen) will participate in this year's Arts Summit-individually as performers, moderators, and facilitators, and as a full cohort in a presentation dedicated to personal stories of real life Citizen Artistry. The 2019-2020 class will be formally announced for the first time. Arts Summit provides a valuable touchpoint for the Fellows as the conversations, ideas, and relationships built during the event help shape their current and future work as Citizen Artists.

Arts Summit is presented in collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation, dedicated to advancing public well-being through improved communication, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the renowned performing arts and culture hub located in Beverly Hills, California; The Aspen Institute Arts Program, which was established within The Aspen Institute to develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society and to return the arts to the center of the Institute's "Great Conversation;" and Citizen University, a Seattle-based organization founded by author Eric Liu that is dedicated to community-building and teaching leadership in civic life.

Arts Summit is generously supported by the Annenberg Foundation, which, under the leadership of Chairman, President, and CEO Wallis Annenberg, has provided a grant to support the Summit. For more information, please visit the Kennedy Center Arts Summit website.

AGENDA (Tentative)

7:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast 9:00 - 9:10 a.m. Performance 9:10 - 9:30 a.m. Welcome Remarks,

Deborah F. Rutter, David M. Rubenstein, and Mario Rossero

9:30 -12:10 p.m. INSPIRATION: Dynamic Conversations, Performances, and Keynote with Artists and Experts focusing on:

  • The Stories We Tell... Retold
  • From the "Edges" to the Center
  • Stitching US Together

11:00 -11:15 a.m. BREAK 12:10 - 12:40 p.m. Recognition of 2018-2019 Citizen Artist Fellows

Introduction of 2019-2020 Citizen Artist Fellows

12:40 - 1:45 p.m. Lunch & Networking 1:45 - 3:00 p.m. EXPLORATION: Deeper Dive Breakout Sessions with Artists and Experts & Mini-Performances

  • Expanding the Narrative
    • Panelists and presenters will examine how intentionality around authorship, agency, and allyship can challenge dominant, singular narratives and lead to a dynamic, inclusive, and intersectional society.
  • The Courageous Pursuit of Radical Listening
    • Panelists and presenters will share their definitions of and approaches to radical listening and other means of bridging the distance between people.
  • Telling Stories: A Toolkit
    • From the individual to the interpersonal to the communal, Presenters will discuss and demonstrate strategies for generating stories and providing a platform for those stories.

3:00 - 3:15 p.m. BREAK 3:15-3:30 p.m. Performance 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. ACTION: The Artist's Journey: 2018-2019 Citizen Artists Fellows, Tell Me About A Time When... 4:30-5:00 p.m. TBD 5:00 - 5:15 p.m. Performance, Creating the Anthem of US 5:15 - 5:30 p.m. Closing Remarks, Deborah F. Rutter and Eric Liu 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. Reception


General admission is $175 per person. Student admission is $20 per person. To register, visit For registration questions, call (202) 416-8141 or email

ABOUT The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the nation's busiest performing arts center is dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. Across all its offerings, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for all people to participate in, and learn through the arts, including more than 400 free performances each year and a variety of Specially Priced Ticket programs for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others.

To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit

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