Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 180-05
May 9, 2005


Nine Recipients Honored at Gracie Mansion

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was today joined by Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission Chair Agnes Gund to honor the 2005 recipients of the Mayor's Awards for Arts & Culture. The awards are given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding contributions to the cultural vitality of New York City. The Mayor presented the awards at a ceremony at Gracie Mansion.

"These Awards celebrate the central role that the arts play in the vibrancy of our City," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The arts transform our neighborhoods, create jobs and give the five boroughs their distinctive character and energy. The true vitality in New York's cultural community is not only an example of this City's amazing resurgence but, in many neighborhoods and communities, it's a direct instigator of it. I congratulate the recipients of this year's Awards, who exemplify what the arts can do for New York City."

Representing the extraordinary range of cultural activity that is integral to the City's life, the winners include three outstanding New York artists: poet and teacher Billy Collins, jazz musician, educator and institutional leader Wynton Marsalis, and stage and screen star Chita Rivera. In addition, Deutsche Bank received an award for outstanding corporate philanthropy in the arts, and Judith D. Zuk received an award for her leadership and vision as President and CEO of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Several awards place special emphasis on the role of arts education in the life of New York City. The Mayor presented awards to The Ghetto Film School, a not-for-profit organization based in the South Bronx, which offers young people both an artistic outlet and vocational training by teaching them the skills of narrative filmmaking, and the Annenberg Foundation, which provides major funding for arts education throughout the City. Last year, the Commission established an award recognizing outstanding public school leadership in the area of arts education. The Mayor presented this award to Oswaldo Malave, Principal of the Waverly School for the Arts, P.S. 156, in the Ocean-Hill Brownsville section of Brooklyn, to Martha Rodriguez-Torres, past Principal of the Waverly School for the Arts, who is now Local Instructional Superintendent of District 23, Department of Education.

The Mayor's Awards for Arts & Culture were created in 1976, when the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) was founded, and were given almost annually until 1994. Mayor Bloomberg revived the awards in 2004, with the assistance of DCA and a re-established Mayor's Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission

"All of us on the Commission are thrilled to serve a Mayor who has a genuine love for arts and culture," said Agnes Gund. "We are also grateful for the work of Deputy Mayor Patti Harris and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin, whose expertise and dedication exemplify some of the best qualities of this year's honorees."

"This Award underlines the fact that it takes a collective effort by indivudal artists, organizations, sponsors and audiences alike to make New York a vibrant, world-class city," said Commissioner Levin. "It also takes a collective effort to honor the recipients. The Advisory Commission, led by Agnes Gund, represents the extraordinary efforts made for our creative community by New Yorkers from all walks of life. We are grateful for their invaluable guidance."

This year's honorees include:

The Annenberg Foundation was established by Walter H. Annenberg in 1989 in Radnor, Pennsylvania, to advance the public well-being by encouraging the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. This goal has encompassed generous support for the arts and culture in New York City. Leonore Annenberg is the Chair and President and Dr. Gail Levin is Executive Director. In the recent past, the Foundation has given major funding to the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday broadcasts, the Museum of Television and Radio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (permitting the re-opening of galleries closed after September 11), the re-opening campaign for the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Modern Art expansion, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Through the Center for Arts Education, the Foundation has given vital support to the development of an arts curriculum in the public schools, as exemplified by 2005 Mayor's Award winners Oswaldo Malave and Martha Rodriguez-Torres.

Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States (2001-2003) and New York State Poet (2004-2006), is a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY). In 1992, he was chosen by the New York Public Library to serve as a "Literary Lion." Among his notable poems is "the Names," which he read to a special session of Congress held in New York City in 2002 to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. His books include Nine horses: Poems (2002), Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001), Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes (2001), Picnic, Lightning (1998), The Art of Drowning (1995), the Apple that Astonished Paris (1988), and Questions About Angels (1991), which was selected for the National Poetry Series. As the U.S. Poet Laureate, he created Poetry 180, a program designed to provide high school students with a poem each day of the school year. Mr. Collins has also edited Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003), and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Everyday (Random House, 2005), two anthologies of contemporary poems for use in schools.

Deutsche Bank contributes to the lives of its New York area employees and to the vitality of the City as a whole by supporting cultural organizations through Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation as overseen by Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas and Chairman of the Foundation. In autumn 2004 alone, Deutsche Bank was the lead sponsor for the Metropolitan Opera's opening night (as it has been for every opening night since 2001), lead sponsor for Wall Street Rising's exhibition Art Downtown featuring public installations of contemporary artworks from the Bank's collection, sponsor of the Robert Wilson/Bernice Johnson Reagon opera The Temptation of St. Anthony at the Next Wave Festival, and sponsor of Brancusi: The Essence of Things at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Under a special philanthropic program "Arts and Enterprise," Deutsche BankAmericas Foundation has made available more than $1 million in grants to support innovative partnerships of arts institutions and community organizations to leverage cultural activities for the economic benefit of the City's disadvantaged neighborhoods. Deutsche Bank is further distinguished in having the world's largest corporate art collection, which is unique in its support of living artists. Additionally, Deutsche Bank is the corporate founding partner of Nurture New York's Nature, which has exclusive rights to a license agreement provided by Christo and Jeanne-Claude to celebrate "The Gates" with all of the proceeds benefiting local environmental and arts initiatives.

Ghetto Film School is a non-profit organization, based in South Bronx, that provides young people with the education, resources technology and relationships they need to make outstanding narrative film, video and multi-media projects. Joe Hall, a community social worker, founded the organization in 2000 to develop his young neighbors' great potential and creative interests. As an arts-based initiative, Ghetto Film School's curriculum mirrors a classic film school education, with opportunities for higher educational advancement and industry internships. Through its summer and after-school intensive programs, Ghetto Film School has succeeded in linking young, creative talent in the South Bronx with the larger world of cinema. In 2004, Ghetto Film School was named Lead Partner by the New Visions for Public Schools initiative to develop New York City's first high school to use cinema studies, film and video production as a way to connect all standard subjects through interdisciplinary, multimedia projects.

Oswaldo Malave has been an educator in the New York City public schools since 1972, serving at different times as an elementary school bilingual teacher, a science teacher, a program specialist, a Title VII coordinator, a staff developer, an assistant principal and now the Principal of P.S. 156, The Waverly School of the Arts in Brooklyn. With Martha Rodriguez-Torres, he helped to develop the exemplary arts program for P.S. 156, which uses the arts as a catalyst for learning. During his tenure, students' reading and math scores and the school's city-wide ranking have improved. Mr. Malave also was instrumental in securing funding for the public schools, through the Annenberg Foundation and the Center for Arts Education, for the development of a city-wide curriculum program that introduces students to diverse cultures by integrating the study of reading, math, science, social studies and art.

Wynton Marsalis is the founding Artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which celebrated the opening of its new home in autumn 2004. A renowned jazz musician, trumpeter, composer, bandleader and advocate for the arts, he was the first jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize in music (1997), receiving the award for Blood on the Fields. In 1999, he presented what has been termed his most ambitious work to date, All Rise, in a premiere performance by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Maser, featuring the Morgan State University Choir and his own Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Currently a Blue Note Records artist, he released his first disc on the label, The Magic Hour, in 2004. His commitment to improving people's lives through music and his contributions to the arts have been recognized with honorary degrees from 29 of the nation's leading academic institutions, including Columbia, Brown, Princeton and Yale universities.

Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards for Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Rink and received six additional Tony nominations. She recently starred on Broadway in the revival of the musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. Ms. Rivera received the coveted Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC in December 2002, and is the first Hispanic ever chosen to receive this award. She trained as a ballerina before receiving a scholarship to the American School of Ballet from the legendary George Balanchine. Ms. Rivera's first appearance was in the chorus of Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the Broadway premiere of West Side Story (1957), which she repeated in London, brought her to stardom. Her Career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Jerry's Girls and (original Broadway casts) Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful.

Martha Rodriguez-Torres was the New York City public school principal who transformed P.S. 156 in Brooklyn into The Waverly School of the Arts. When she accepted the challenge of leading P.S. 156, only 17% of its students were reading at or above grade level. Deciding to use the arts as a vehicle for improvement, she transformed this formerly low-performing school into a model for others to emulate: a nurturing environment for both students and teachers, where the reading scores have more than doubled and the arts are evident in every facet of the curriculum. In 2002, she accepted a second post as Principal of I.S. 392, the first Gifted and Talented Intermediate School in Community School District 23. She currently serves as a Local Instructional Superintendent in Region 5, where she continues to be an advocate for the integration of the arts into all of her cohort schools.

Judith D. Zuk is President and CEO of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, serving 750,000 visitors and over 150,000 school children annually. During her 15-year tenure, she has overseen more than $20 million in capital improvements, including the restoration of the world-famous Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. She has spearheaded tremendous growth in the Garden's education, community outreach and research programs, including the founding of the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE) in partnership with the Department of Education and the Prospect Park Alliance. Other highlights include the establishment of Brooklyn GreenBridge, which assists more than 50,000 people annually with neighborhood greening projects, and a comprehensive study of plants in the New York metro area. From 1997 to 1999, she served as Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group.


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958

Sara Rutkowski   (Department of Cultural Affairs)
(212) 643-6690

More Resources
Watch the video in 56k or 300k