Experts Address the State of the Arts Today: Ideas Festival

June 23, 2009

At the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival, the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic welcome today’s edgiest and most eminent critics, artists, administrators and patrons to the Arts and Culture programming track.  They will offer fresh and dynamic perspectives on the status of the arts in the face of unprecedented economic, social and technological changes.


  • Chuck Close, artist, photographer, and 2009 Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence, will discuss his life’s work and the creative process in an exclusive interview with Anna Deavere Smith, Pulitzer Prize-Nominated playwright and actress on July 1
  • Frank Gehry, world-famous architect, in an interview on July 3 with Tom Pritzker, chairman, Hyatt Foundation – sponsor the Pritzker Architecture Prize
  • “Is the Curtain Closing on Live Theater in America?”—a July 3 roundtable discussion with Michael Eisner, founder, The Tornante Company; former chairman and CEO, the Walt Disney Company; trustee, the Aspen Institute, David Ives, playwright, All in the Timing: Six One-Act Comedies, Anna Deavere Smith, Pulitzer Prize-Nominated playwright and actress; professor, New York University; trustee, The Aspen Institute, and moderated by Dana Gioia, director, Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts, the Aspen Institute; former chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Seven–a groundbreaking documentary theatrical performance about seven women from the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network, followed by playwright Anna Deavere Smith in conversation with two of the real women whose experiences are featured in the play: Marina Pisklakova and Mu Sochua on June 29
  • “Weathering the Storm: How Will the Arts Make It Through the Economic Crisis?”—a July 4 roundtable discussion with Deborah Borda, President and CEO, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Leonard Lauder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.; Chairman Emeritus, The Aspen Institute, Laveen Naidu, Executive Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Damian Woetzel, Director, Vail International Dance Festival; former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet, and moderated by Dana Gioia, director, Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts, the Aspen Institute; former chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Daily highlights from the Ideas Festival will be posted at and the Ideas Special Report at, and event updates will be featured at and

“What’s exciting about the Aspen Ideas Festival is the convening of truly remarkable minds across so many disciplines,” said Kitty Boone, Vice President, Public Programs at the Aspen Institute. “This year in particular we are pleased to have so many bright thinkers who are leading the way forward for a thriving arts community in America.  We will be presenting speakers from various fields of art including, painters, photographers, dancers, musicians, and architects, as well as leaders from arts foundations around the country.”

“The Ideas Festival provides a great forum for the latest thinking about our rapidly-changing political, economic, and cultural landscape, and for debate about how to turn that thinking into action,” said James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic. “We’re thrilled to tap the shared strengths of the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic to help shape the week’s conversation.”
Times and dates for programs are subject to change. For a list of other currently confirmed speakers, program tracks, and press pass information, please visit or contact Jennifer Myers at A satellite truck will be on campus; please contact Jennifer Myers prior to arrival to discuss any possible use of the truck. Sponsors for the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival include Altria, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Ernst & Young, Philips, Shell, and Thomson Reuters.

View Comments