50th Anniversary of National Endowment for the Arts Celebrated at White House

PBS Special Presents Celebrity Musical Artists in Tribute to NEA and American Music
White House at night behind title American Creativity

Washington, DC—In honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, President and Mrs. Obama will host a PBS music special, “A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House.” Featuring performances by celebrity musical artists, the event, including remarks by President Obama, will be live-streamed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET at whitehouse.gov/livepbs.org/whitehouse. Broadcast of the event on PBS is scheduled for Friday, January 8, 2016 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (Check local listings.).

Musical artists who will perform in the East Room of the White House are: Buddy Guy, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Keb Mo, Smokey Robinson, Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, James Taylor, and Usher, with readings and remarks from Carol Burnett (program subject to change). “A Celebration of American Creativity” will highlight American-born musical genres including hip-hop, blues, and the American Songbook, art forms that the National Endowment for the Arts has supported over its 50 year history. In addition, NEA-supported nonprofit venues have presented several of the evening’s artists in their programs including Esperanza Spalding and Audra McDonald.

“Since its inception, the National Endowment for the Arts has been committed to fueling American creativity which we will celebrate with these outstanding artists,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “It is entirely fitting that this special occasion takes place in the People’s House because the arts are part of our everyday lives—no matter who you are or where you live—with the power to move you, transform you, and catalyze change across society.”

It was on September 29, 1965, one month after signing the Voting Rights Act that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act which gave birth to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the next 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded more than 145,000 grants totaling $5 billion to arts organizations and individuals in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

Funding for “A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House” is provided by the LBJ Foundation, David M. Rubenstein, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.


Victoria Hutter, hutterv@arts.gov, 202-682-5692