The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the arts in America, and to return them to the center of the Aspen Institute's "Great Conversation." Directed by Damian Woetzel, it brings together artists, advocates, educators, managers, foundations, and government officials to exchange ideas and to develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society.


Arts Program in The Aspen Journal of Ideas

"Filling the Gaps in How We Serve and Hire People with Autism", by Arts Program associate Shelby Seier.

ASD Performance

“One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was serving as a teaching artist for acting and dance classes for young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the Rose Theater. In addition to providing a socialization space, we taught basic acting principles, such as the importance of speaking loudly and clearly. We used our three actor’s tools — voice, body, and imagination — to delve into the art of storytelling. The transformations were exceptional…” Click here to read more.

New York—The Park Avenue Armory
"Two Souls, Two Thoughts": The Art of African American History

“One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” — W. E. B. Du Bois
The Arts Program was proud to collaborate with the Park Avenue Armory to gather artists, writers, and cultural commentators to share their unique, ongoing, and evolving engagements with African American history. Moderated by writer and podcast host Stacia Brown, participants include vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri, multi-media artist Jasmine Murrell, novelist and playwright Darryl Pinckney, and writer Carl Hancock Rux.

Washington Ideas Roundtable
Baltimore: Designing Progress Through the Arts

At every level, from the grassroots to the most entrenched institutions, Baltimore’s arts community is tirelessly striving to advance diversity, equity, and social cohesion in a city stymied by a history of racially segregating policies, broken social structures, vicious cycles of poverty, and a culture of fragmentation.

New Views Documentary & Dialogue Series
Capturing Grace post-screening Q&A

Michael J. Fox called Capturing Grace “a poignant reflection on the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.” Filmed over the course of a year, Dave Iverson’s documentary explores the remarkable work of the Dance for PD® program and reveals the hopes, fears, and triumphs of this newly forged community as they work together to create a unique, life-changing performance. Iverson and Dance for PD program director David Leventhal spoke with Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel in Washington, DC.

Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Cameron Carpenter & the Arts Program together at SFJAZZ

On the opening night of his 2016 U.S. Tour, Cameron Carpenter spoke with Damian Woetzel prior to his performance, which was also the West Coast debut of his International Touring Organ. Earlier that afternoon, with the cooperation of the SFJazz Education Department, the Arts Program helped Carpenter pilot his education initiative, in which he opens the organ up to children of all ages and musical interest levels.

Cameron Carpenter SFJAZZ Education

As a new element of the Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Program, we were also able to help Cameron add a mentorship component to our work together. For this program in San Francisco, we brought in a young organist named Matthew Whitaker, whom Cameron has taken under his wing. Blind since birth, Whitaker is a 14-year-old, largely self-taught jazz and gospel prodigy and the youngest artist endorsed by Hammond. Matt joined Cameron for the student workshop, and then later during the concert he performed an arrangement of the Errol Garner song "Misty" that he had worked out that afternoon with Cameron's guidance on the International Touring Organ. We will look to promote further mentorship opportunities for our current and future Artists in Residence. Learn more about Matthew Whitaker here.

Civic Practice Scholar Madeleine Le Cesne on Princeton Life after the Black Justice League Protests

"The Black Justice League is the first group to publicly demand accountability from The Woodrow Wilson School to live up to its unofficial motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” They are not asking us to revise history…Rather, they demand of us to consider what progress really is, how a person’s love can serve one people and not another." Click Here to Read More


"Snapshots of Life at Princeton,” by Madeleine Le Cesne, is part of the monthly blog written by our Civic Practice Scholars, who are selected from our Young Poets Seminar in Aspen to connect to the ongoing work of the Arts Program throughout the year. You can read more about the Civic Practice Scholars here.

Gathering Gold Against the Gloom of Unrest in Baltimore: the Arts Program in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

"Can Baltimore’s arts community play a leadership role in building a future in which every citizen — regardless of race, gender, or zip code — can lead a life of fulfillment?"...Read more.

Baltimore OrchKids warming up at Lockerman-Bundy elementary school.

Civic Practice Scholar Karlyn Boens on
Spike Lee's Chi-Raq

"I am an 18-year-old daughter of Chicago…I was not looking for a satire from you…I was not looking for you at all…" Click Here to Read More

Karlyn Boens

"Dear Spike Lee,” by Karlyn Boens, is the first contribution to the monthly blog that will be written by our Civic Practice Scholars, who are selected from our Young Poets Seminar in Aspen to connect to the ongoing work of the Arts Program throughout the year. You can read more about the Civic Practice Scholars here.