Joan Harris awarded National Medal of Arts

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Chicagoan Joan Harris, long a major philanthropist and arts patron, and the driving force behind the creation of the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, will be among the recipients of the 2013 National Medal of Arts to be presented by President Obama at the White House Monday.

Harris will receive the honor in an East Room ceremony that will be streamed live at 2 p.m. at

The citation for Harris’ honor notes her award is “for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across the country. Her decades of leadership and generosity have enriched our cultural life and helped countless artists, dancers, singers and musicians bring their talents to center stage.” The Harris Theater was opened in 2003 and has provided a home for more than three dozen companies _ truly becoming one of Chicago’s cultural anchors.

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government — awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the nation.

The other recipients of the 2013 Medal of Arts are: writer Julia Alvarez, Brooklyn Academy of Music, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, composer John Kander, film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, writer Maxine Hong Kingston, documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, musician Linda Ronstadt, architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, and visual artist James Turrell.

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