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NPR's Cultural Programming Receives Nation's Highest Arts Award

National Medal for the Arts National Public Radio's Cultural Programming Division has been honored with America's highest arts award, the National Medal of Arts, for the year 2000. NPR is the first media organization to receive this award since 1984 when it was established by an act of Congress.

President and Mrs. Clinton presented the Medal to NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose during a formal ceremony at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, December 20. You can hear audio from the event and see additional photographs below.

The National Medal of Arts honors individuals and organizations who make outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States. On Friday, December 15, NPR's Morning Edition Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg did a report on the award and its honorees. [Listen to her story]

National Medal of Arts 2000 recipients include entertainer Barbra Streisand, theater producer Harold Prince, violinist Itzhak Perlman, sculptor Claes Oldenburg, NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose, arts patron Lewis Manilow, playwright Horton Foote, painter Chuck Close, jazz musician Benny Carter, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, country singer Eddy Arnold, and poet Maya Angelou.

The Awards Ceremony

Held in Washington's DAR Constitution Hall, the morning's ceremony began with performances by the United House of Prayer Brass Band and the
Chicago Children's Choir. The music was followed by an introduction of the twelve recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the twelve National Humanities Medal honorees. [Listen to the introduction]

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton then gave brief remarks (9:13) on the importance of continued funding for the arts. Senator-elect Clinton was followed by the President, who spoke about the Administration's record on support for the arts and humanities, and recognized the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Design Excellence. [Listen to Mrs. Clinton's remarks] | [Listen to President Clinton's remarks]

The President then introduced each honoree with a brief description of their accomplishments. Below is a transcript of his remarks. [Listen to President Clinton's description of NPR]
   For 30 years, National Public Radio's Cultural Programming Division has turned a small slice of the nation's airwaves into a stage big enough to hold the world.
   From the mechanics on Car Talk to the music of Carmen, NPR covers it all, enlightening and entertaining us around the clock. I don't know how many years our family has gotten up every morning to NPR blaring away on Hillary's radio.
   NPR plays a unique role in America's cultural and intellectual life, examining with wit and wisdom the myriad facets of the human condition, our national life and the state of the world. We are a better, more humane nation for the efforts of NPR.
   NPR President Kevin Klose will accept this medal on behalf of his colleagues. And we thank them all.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images of The United House of Prayer Brass Band, The Chicago Children's Choir, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and President Clinton at the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony.

The United House of Prayer Brass Band The Chicago Children's Choir First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton President Clinton

The National Medal of Arts

For more information on the National Medal of Arts and this year's honorees, check out the
National Endowment for the Arts page, where there are descriptions of each award recipient. There are also links to a National Medal of Arts Fact Sheet and a list of past recipients.