Announcing the 2015 Kennedy Center-Aspen Institute Arts Summit

April 1, 2015

March 31, 2015

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 
and the Aspen Institute 
announce the 

Saturday, May 16, 2015
in the Kennedy Center Theater Lab
and broadcast live online

New collaboration will convene national arts and policy leaders 
to examine the continuing impact of the arts on American society

Participants include 
David Brooks, Lc Cpl Timothy Donley, Howard Gardner, Walter Isaacson, Maz Jobrani, Alan Kay, Spike Lee, Sarah Lewis, Eric Liu, Theodore B. Olson, David M. Rubenstein, Deborah F. Rutter, Michael Sandel, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Split This Rock, Darren Walker, Damian Woetzel, Alfre Woodard, Camille Zamora, and Ai Weiwei (via video)

Betsy DeVos, Summit Chair

(WASHINGTON)—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Aspen Institute present the Kennedy Center/Aspen Institute Arts Summit: The Road Forward on May 16, 2015 in the Kennedy Center Theater Lab. This intensive daylong program will bring together artists, innovative thinkers, and policy leaders to identify how the arts should move forward in addressing the issues facing American society today. The proceedings will be streamed live at

Created by the Kennedy Center and its president Deborah F. Rutter and the Aspen Institute Arts Program and its director Damian Woetzel, the Summit will feature conversations, live performances, town-hall style debates, and discussions that focus on education, technology, race, and free speech, envisioning a road forward for the arts in these areas.

“The arts can and should be at the center of the national conversation about how to move our country forward,” said Ms. Rutter. “I am so proud to partner with Damian Woetzel and the Aspen Institute to bring together such a distinguished group of thinkers to help us consider the ways we can activate the arts to better our society, just as President Kennedy envisioned.”

“This Summit will provide a call to action for artists and the arts community to progress and to make progress by engaging with the issues we face today,” said Mr. Woetzel. “It is essential that we seek a culture in touch with its own reality, and I am honored to partner with the Kennedy Center and Deborah Rutter in creating this opportunity.” 

The May 16 event will be preceded by a preparatory conclave for Summit speakers and presenters, focusing on the role of the citizen artist in American life with a program led by Yo-Yo Ma.

Confirmed speakers for the May 16 Summit include New York Times columnist David Brooks, lead singer of the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band Lc Cpl Timothy Donley, Harvard professor and developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, comedian Maz Jobrani, pioneering computer scientist Alan Kay, iconic filmmaker Spike Lee, author Sarah Lewis, Citizen University founder Eric Liu, former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein, Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter, Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Sotomayor, D.C.-based poetry performance collective Split This Rock, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Aspen Institute Arts Program Director and former ballet dancer Damian Woetzel, Academy Award®–nominated actress Alfre Woodard, and soprano and founder of Sing for Hope Camille Zamora. Artist and activist Ai Weiwei will appear at the Summit via video.  The Summit will be chaired by Betsy DeVos.

More programming information, additional participants, and complete details on the Kennedy Center/Aspen Institute Arts Summit: The Road Forward will be announced in the coming weeks.


Ticket packages for the Kennedy Center/Aspen Institute Arts Summit: The Road Forward are $200 and include access to all sessions in the Theater Lab plus the lunch session in the Roof Terrace Restaurant and a closing cocktail reception. Attendees may register online at or call Kennedy Center Special Events at (202) 416-8418.


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President Kennedy. Under the leadership of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation’s busiest performing arts facility attract audiences and visitors totaling 3 million people annually; Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more.

Opening its doors on September 8, 1971, the Center presents the greatest performances of music, dance, 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’s achievements as a commissioner, producer, and nurturer of developing artists have resulted in more than 300 theatrical productions, and dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works.

Each year, millions of people nationwide take part in innovative, inclusive, and effective education programs initiated by the Center, including school- and community-based residencies and consultancies; age-appropriate performances and events for young people; career development for young actors, dancers, singers, and instrumentalists; and professional learning opportunities for teachers, teaching artists, and school administrators. These programs have become models for communities across the country. The Center’s Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program works with selected local school districts and seeks to provide a comprehensive arts education to children K-8. The Center also has been at the forefront of making the performing arts accessible to persons with disabilities, highlighted by the work accomplished with its affiliate, VSA.

As part of the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone outreach program, the Center stages more than 400 free performances of music, dance, and theater by artists from throughout the world each year on the Center’s main stages, and every evening at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage. The Rubenstein Arts Access Program expands the Center’s efforts to make the arts accessible to children, young adults, and to people who have little or limited ability to attend and enjoy the performing arts, enabling audiences to engage in more ways, at more times, and in more places than ever before.

For more information about the Kennedy Center, please visit


The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.

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 develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society.

Program activities include: the Race, Arts, and America initiative; ArtStrikes; the annual Aspen Seminar for Student Poets; curated conversations and performances; the Washington Ideas Roundtable; the New Views Documentaries and Dialogue series; the Aspen Arts Strategy Group, which convenes leaders in the arts and other sectors in various American cities to strategize on ways the arts can assist in education or community development; and the Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Program, in which distinguished artists participate in Institute programs throughout the year.

For more information about the Aspen Institute, visit

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Michael Solomon
The Kennedy Center (202) 416-8394
(202) 416-8453

Kennedy Center Special Events
(202) 416-8394

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