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CelebrityPhilanthropyNews. com

Yoko Ono and Julie Andrews.

Yoko Ono and Julie Andrews.
Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick Mc Mullen








New York, New York, October 7th, 2008:
the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, held its Annual National Arts Awards Ceremony at Cipriani in New York City which raised over $650,000 for AFTA.


The event was chaired with consummate style by Mrs. Maria Bell, who greeted guests and honorees with her Chairman’s Committee members Isabella & Theodor Dalenson, Sheila C. Johnson, and Julie & Edward Minskoff at the opening cocktail reception at 6.30. Guests then took their seats for dinner and were welcomed by President and CEO of AFTA, Robert Lynch.  The ceremony began as Don Randel presented Joan W. Harris the award for Philanthropy in the Arts; John Pappajohn honored J. Barry Griswell with the Artistic Corporate Citizenship in the Arts Award; and Billy Joel gave a rousing tribute to Phil Ramone, the producer of this acclaimed album The Stranger, and presented him with the Arts Advocacy Award


Honorees crossed the stage to receive their awards in front of the spectacular video backdrop Rapunzel created by Jennifer Steinkamp, the first video artist to be featured at the National Arts Awards.  When guests had enjoyed an entrée of seared lamb chops with polenta cakes and haricot vert, the awards ceremony resumed with a performance by the chorale of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.  The high school students paid tribute to honoree Julie Andrews, performing Doe a Deer of The Sound of Music and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious of Mary Poppins and to Phil Ramone, performing Joel’s New York State of Mind, which he produced.


After the performances, Thelma Golden gave a heartfelt tribute to Kehinde Wiley, the recipient of the Young Artist Award for Artistic Excellence, Michael Kimmelman paid tribute to Yoko Ono with the Kitty Carlisle Hart Award, and Mary Rodgers Guettel presented Dame Julie Andrews with the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was met with a standing ovation from the crowd of 450 people.


Guests attending the ceremony included Jeff Koons, Yvonne Force, Aimee Mullins, Kelly Bensimon, Todd Eberle, Jeffrey Deitch, Christie Iles, Marian Goodman, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Danny Meyer, Amalia Dayan, Ellen Phelan, Joel Shapiro, Tony Award winning director of South Pacific Bartlett Sher, dancers Bat Abbott, Pierre Dulaine and Graham Lustic, choreographer Jennifer Muller, and cabaret artist Theo Blackman.


The evening’s guests left with gifts generously donated by honorees and sponsors, including highly coveted “Listen. Reflect. Choose. Vote.” shirts and posters by 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award winner John Baldessari, which AFTA featured at both the Democratic and Republican conventions in order to convey the importance of arts during the election. Guest also received multilingual buttons that read Imagine Peace, the famed message of Yoko Ono and her late husband John Lennon, Billy Joel’s The Stranger, Catalogs from The Studio Museum in Harlem featuring Kehinde Wiley, Lancome Juicy Tubes, copies of Rolling Stone Magazine, and Thanks to You: Wisdom from Mother & Child by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.



For further information, contact Lehua Chong at
Nadine Johnson on (212) 228-5555 or



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