Art Works Blog

An Appreciation: R. Philip Hanes, Jr. (1926-2011)

Washington, DC

R. Philip Hanes, Jr. (2nd from right) in 1966 with (l-r) National Council on the Arts member Harper Lee, NEA Chairman Roger Stevens, and National Council on the Arts member Agnes de Mille. This photograph is one of nearly 200 images from the first six years of the National Council on the Arts that Hanes (who took most of them) donated to the agency in 1988.

I am honored and privileged to join many others to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Phil Hanes. He was a giant in the arts, in conservation, and in business---in his home town of Winston-Salem, his state of North Carolina, and our country. Phil was a member of the first National Council on the Arts, which included Agnes de Mille, Ralph Ellison, Gregory Peck, Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers, John Steinbeck, Isaac Stern, and George Stevens, Sr. Phil helped his friend Roger Stevens set the course for the Arts Endowment in those years. Among many other honors, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Arts in 1991. And, in 2005, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies gave him its Founders’ Award and the Association of Fund Raising Professionals its Lifetime Achievement Award.

During my tenure as the fourth NEA Chairman, I remember Phil as a guy you could count on. He helped place the arts and culture at the core of Winston-Salem, and underscored for me the importance of the arts for America’s communities. Our initiation of the Locals Program was in part due to Phil Hanes. We also partnered with another of Phil’s legacies, the North Carolina School of the Arts, in a number of ventures that served the nation as well as the State of North Carolina. But most of all I remember Phil as an indomitable spirit and force of nature. Civic-minded and a connoisseur of the arts, Phil knew how to bring people together in common cause. He did it with humor, persistence, and treasure. I was personally among those who were privileged with his collaboration. He lived the life of someone who could get anyone to do anything, as he titled his book in 2006. Phil was fun to work and play with. We are all the better for his life and accomplishment.

Thank you to Phil and my deepest condolences to Charlotte and the family.

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