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Yo-Yo Ma to Co-Lead 2017 Kennedy Center Arts Summit; Lineup Announced!

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Aspen Institute Arts Program, Citizen University, and the Annenberg Foundation and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, presents the 2017 Kennedy Center Arts Summit: Activating Citizen Artists. Exploring JFK Ideals. Creating Cultural Moonshots. The Arts Summit will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2017 in the Kennedy Center Theater Lab and adjoining spaces.

Legendary cellist, humanitarian, and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large Yo-Yo Ma will co-lead the event. Joining as panel and session moderators are innovator, co-Founder, and CEO of AnthroTronix Dr. Cori Lathan; Citizen University founder and CEO Eric Liu; former D.C. news anchor Lark McCarthy; The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts's Director of Education Mark Slavkin; and Aspen Institute Arts Program director Damian Woetzel. The Arts Summit is generously supported by the Annenberg Foundation, which, under the leadership of Chairman, President, and CEO Wallis Annenberg, has awarded a four-year, $1 million grant to support the Summit.

The fourth annual Kennedy Center Arts Summit will examine how arts and culture play a critical role in shaping society, especially through interdisciplinary connections. We'll focus on existing projects and programs that can propel one's thinking towards new ideas and actions, including the leaders often looked up to for guidance and inspiration. As participants from a range of backgrounds in the arts and related fields explore this idea together, President John F. Kennedy's legacy will also be honored through the ideals of courage, service, justice, freedom, and gratitude. Additionally, the Summit will serve as a reflection on current and past efforts as well as the launching pad for new collaborations and initiatives among participants. The Arts Summit is part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy.

The daylong event is organized into three areas: think, explore, and act. Performances, panels, interviews, exhibits, and remarks will help frame the breakout sessions and working groups. Participants for the May 6 program include Brazilian guitarist, composer, and arranger Sérgio Assad; founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, Laura Callanan; author on Hip Hop culture, race, and identity Jeff Chang; President and Artistic Director of Sphinx Afa Dworkin; founder of the contemporary art and design center, Le Laboratoire David Edwards; oudist and musician of the Silk Road Ensemble Hadi Eldebek; Los Angeles-based largest music education non-profit Harmony Project; director of Arts Education at the National Endowment of the Arts AyAnna Hudson; influential composer, inventor, educator, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's director of the Media Lab's Opera of the Future Tod Machover; youth and civics organization Mikva Challenge; the global publication and nonprofit organization National Geographic; internationally known astrophysicist at the University of Chicago Angela Olinto; neuroscientist, Head of Strategy in Global Health and Healthcare and member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum Professor Olivier Oullier; political scientist, professor, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein; Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter; Chairman Emeritus of World Fuel Services Corporation Paul Stebbins; and founding executive director of Chicago-based Ingenuity, Paul Sznewajs.

"JFK inspired the world with a simple call to action: 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.' Today, I want to take that a step further, and ask, 'What can we do together that we can't do alone?'" said Yo-Yo Ma. "I think culture is an essential part of the answer. We all participate in culture; it creates new connections and demands the kind of collaboration that will inspire our citizens for another century."

The program will also feature performances by visionary musician and educator as well as 2016 Citizen Artist Fellow Aquil Charlton; Santa Monica-based dancer, director, and choreographer Jacob Jonas; 2016 Citizen Artist Fellow and Artistic Director CJay Philip of the multidisciplinary ensemble Dance & Bmore; students from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Turnaround Arts's Savoy Elementary School; Professor Olivier Oullier and innovator and entrepreneur Tan Le; and non-profit D.C.-based spoken word organization, Split This Rock.

The 2017 class of the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows program, which recognizes artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities small and large, will also be introduced and recognized as part of the Summit. For their contributions to the arts and their commitment to the principles of President Kennedy's legacy, the Fellows will receive national recognition and opportunities to showcase their voice and work as well as join in a year of learning and conversation centered around mentorship and impact. The recognized Citizen Artists will receive mentorship from Yo-Yo Ma, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large, among other Kennedy Center artistic partners and experts.

The 2017 class of Fellows include award-winning poet Hakim Bellamy (Albuquerque, NM); violinist, speaker, advocate, and founder of Street Symphony Vijay Gupta (Los Angeles, CA); visual artist and designer Ekene Ijeoma (New York City, NY); arts leader and Director & Principal Designer of Civic Creatives De Nichols (St. Louis, MO); visual artist, muralist, and community arts educator, Michelle Angela Ortiz (Philadelphia, PA); and Katie Wyatt, musician, innovator, and Executive Director of El Sistema USA (Durham, NC).

The Summit is presented in collaboration with 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"; Citizen University, a Seattle-based organization founded by author Eric Liu that is dedicated to community-building and teaching leadership in civic life; and The Annenberg Foundation and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the renowned performing arts venue located in Beverly Hills, California.

Tickets are $200 per person. To purchase tickets, patrons can call (202) 416-8420, visit, or send an email to


8:30-9:00 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast (States Gallery)

9:00-9:10 a.m.

Performance: Students from Savoy Elementary

(Theater Lab)

9:10-9:30 a.m.

Remarks and Introduction by Yo-Yo Ma,

Deborah F. Rutter, and David M. Rubinstein; 2017 Citizen Artist Fellows announced (Theater Lab)

9:30-9:40 a.m.

Remarks (Theater Lab)

9:40-10:10 a.m.

Interview: Afa Dworkin by David M. Rubenstein

10:10-10:30 a.m.


10:30-11:45 a.m.

Panel: Finding the Arts's Allies: Shared Values and Social Goals in Cultural Disciplines, moderator Damian Woetzel (Theater Lab)

11:45-12:00 p.m.

Performance: Jacob Jonas, dancer (Theater Lab)

12:00­-1:00 p.m.


1:00-2:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions: Seeing What Culture Can Do: Examples of Citizen Artists and Cultural Citizens Making Real Change

· Session 1: Theater Lab

· Session 2: Atrium

· Session 3: Terrace Gallery

2:30-2:50 p.m.


2:50-3:10 p.m.

Performance: CJay Philip and Dance & Bmore (Atrium)

3:00-4:30 p.m.

Working Groups with remarks by Eric Liu, Taking Action: Collaborating Effectively Now as Artists and Cultural Citizens (Atrium)

4:30-4:45 p.m.

Performance (Atrium)

4:45-5:00 p.m.

Closing: Remarks by Deborah F. Rutter (Atrium)

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Reception and Performance (States Gallery)


Hakim Bellamy, a native of New Jersey, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bellamy is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Swear (West End Press) and was Albuquerque's inaugural Poet Laureate from 2012-2014. His poetry is published at the Albuquerque Convention Center and in Alternet, TruthOut, Counterpunch, among other media. Bellamy has shared the stage with Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, and the Dalai Lama. He has been a featured guest on The Tavis Smiley Show and is the host of the arts program Colores on New Mexico PBS. Bellamy's honors include the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association, a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, and honorable mention for the University of New Mexico's Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize. He holds an M.A. in Communications from the University of New Mexico and is the founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC.

Vijay Gupta is a violinist, speaker, and advocate for the power of music to change lives. Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age 19 after completing a master's in violin performance from the Yale School of Music and a bachelor's in biology from Marist College. As a 2011 TED Senior Fellow, Gupta founded Street Symphony, a musical engagement initiative bringing live musical performances and dialogue to communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County. Gupta believes that musical engagement reconnects us to our shared humanity across vast divides and ultimately impacts social justice.

Ekene Ijeoma is an interdisciplinary artist and designer exploring the intersections of social issues, data studies, and life experiences. He creates websites, apps, installations, and performances to translate overlooked facts into informed feelings. Through these multisensory experiences, he hopes to expand people's thoughts and engage them in imagining change. His work has been exhibited at galleries and museums including Annenberg Space for Photography, Neuberger Museum of Art, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Istanbul Design Biennial, and Design Museum. He's presented at events and spaces including Design Indaba, Neuberger Museum of Art, Raleigh Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago Architecture Biennial and International Center for Photography. Ijeoma is a NYFA Fellow and New Lab/Simons Foundation Fellow.

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, De Nichols serves as Director & Principal Designer of Civic Creatives, a social design organization that produces interactive events, tools, and services to foster community-driven discovery, ideation, and actualization of civic solutions. Nichols serves as a Board of Directors member for Forward through Ferguson and chairs the Board of Directors for Creative Reaction Lab. She is a nationally recognized speaker on arts activism and social impact design, and she holds the St. Louis Visionary Award for community impact in the arts. Nichols is an alumna of Washington University in St. Louis, where she specialized in communication design, social entrepreneurship, and socio-economic development. Her works have been supported by the Smithsonian Institute, Clinton Global Initiative, Women's Caucus for Art, Gephardt Institute for Public Service, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and StartingBloc Fellowship for Social Innovation.

Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist, muralist, and community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community-building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In 2016, she completed the first U.S. State-funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Ortiz was awarded the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation. She is a fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts, recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award and Art & Change Grant.

Katie Wyatt is an accomplished musician, executive, and innovator in music and social change. In July 2010, Wyatt co-founded and became Executive Director of Kidznotes, North Carolina's premiere El Sistema-inspired program. She is immersed in El Sistema, the international organization of music for social change hailing from Venezuela, and through the organization, has become a national leader in building access and creating opportunities for all people to experience the transformative power of orchestras and music. She enjoys teaching "Music and Social Entrepreneurship" as adjunct faculty at Duke University, and as a violist, has performed with chamber groups and orchestras around the world. In July 2016, Wyatt became the first Executive Director for El Sistema USA and established new headquarters at Duke University.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's living memorial to President Kennedy. Under the guidance of Chairman David M. Rubenstein, and President Deborah F. Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation's busiest performing arts facility attract more than three million visitors to more than 2,000 performances each year, while center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts reach 40 million more around the world.

The Center produces and presents performances of music, dance, comedy, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center has produced more than 300 theatrical productions, and dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works, in addition to hosting numerous international cultural festivals. The Center's Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Kennedy Center Honors is broadcast annually on CBS and annual The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is broadcast on PBS.

The education programs of the Kennedy Center, including those of its affiliate VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, have become models for communities across the country and have unlocked the door to learning for millions of young people. Education at the Kennedy Center produces and presents age appropriate performances and educational events, and fosters innovative programming, curriculum, and professional development for students, teachers, and families.

The Center and its affiliates stage more than 400 free performances by artists from throughout the world each year on the Center's main stages, and every day of the year at 6 p.m. on its Millennium Stages, which are also streamed live, online. The Center also offers reduced and complimentary tickets to young people, active members of the military, and the underserved through its MyTix program and offers a Specially Priced Tickets program for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others with fixed low incomes.

To learn more about the Kennedy Center, visit

In the year leading up to the centenary of John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 2017, the Kennedy Center, the living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, is re-imagining the very mission of the institution created in his name. Inspired by some of the key ideals he championed-Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service, and Gratitude-the Center is featuring special programming through the year that explores, challenges, and reflects the contemporary spirit of America. Guided by JFK's legacy of idealism, hope, and empowerment, the Kennedy Center will serve as a creative catalyst and meeting place, inviting members of the public to engage directly with artists and ideas, and actively participate in the civic and cultural life of their country.

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