Arison Award

National YoungArts Week 2016 culminated with the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, the YoungArts Backyard Ball Performance and Gala, presented by MaxMara and emceed by Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer and director, YoungArts Alumnus Billy Porter (1987 Winner in Theater). During the event, YoungArts honored director and actress Rosie Perez and director Robert Wilson with the Arison Award, as well as performer, Tony Award nominee, YoungArts Master Teacher and 1997 YoungArts Winner in Theater Tony Yazbeck with the Arison Alumni Award, for their outstanding contributions and indelible impact on the arts.

Rosie Perez, Tony Yazbeck and Robert Wilson

The Arison Award is named for the late visionary, entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, who sought a comprehensive method to nurture and support young artists in America. In 1981, together with his wife, Lin, Ted created the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) and the YoungArts program. Since then, more than 20,000 program alumni have been named and even more young people are being encouraged to explore and pursue a career in the arts. The Arison Award, established in 2001, is given annually to individuals who, like the Arison family, have had a considerable influence on the development of young American artists. The award itself is a work of art created by New York City artist, Jean Shin, 1990 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.


Past Arison Awardees: 

2015 Arison Awardees: Jeff Koons, renowned visual artist; Josh Groban*1999 YoungArts Winner in Theater, Grammy Award-nominated recording artist, singer, songwriter, actor, YoungArts Master Teacher; and Chris Young*, 2003 YoungArts Winner and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the ArtsGrammy and Country Music Association Award nominated singer-songwriter.

2014: Zaha Hadid, Pritzker Award Winning architect; Rita Moreno, Academy Award Winning singer, dancer and actress; and Andrew Rannells*, 1997 Winner in Theater, American actor and singer.

2013: Joshua Bell, one of the world’s most celebrated violinists; Debbie Allen, American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer and a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and Adrian Grenier*, 1994 Winner in Theater, American actor, musician and director. 

2012: Robert Redford, actor, director, activist, and founder of the Sundance Institute & Film Festival; and Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts; and Doug Aitken*, 1986 Winner in Visual Arts, American multi-media artist.

2011: Bill T. Jones, a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer; Michael Kaiser, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Adrienne Arsht, Philanthropist; and Kerry Washington*, 1994 Winner in Theater, American actress.

2010: Liv Ullmann, Norwegian actress and director; Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; and Desmond Richardson*, 1986 Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, American dancer and co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

2009: James Rosenquist, an International award-winning, world-renowned artist; and Raúl Esparza*, 1988 YoungArts Winner in Theater, award-winning Broadway, television and film actor.

2008: Frank Gehry, world renowned architect; and Rachel Moore*, 1982 YoungArts Winner in Dance, Executive Director of the American Ballet Theatre and former member of ABT’s Corps de Ballet.

2007: Dave Brubeck, American jazz pianist and composer; and Allegra Goodman*, 1985 YoungArts Winner in Writing and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, critically-acclaimed novelist and short story writer.

2006: Michael Tilson Thomas, renowned musician and conductor; and Vanessa Williams*, 1981 YoungArts Winner in Musical and Spoken Theater, internationally renowned Grammy and Emmy nominated singer/actress. 

2005: Mikhail Baryshnikov, celebrated dancer, choreographer and actor. 

2004: Plácido Domingo, renowned tenor.

2003: Roberta Guaspari, inspirational violin and strings teacher in the New York City public school system.

2002: Jacques d’Amboise, one of the finest classical dancers of our time.

2001: Quincy Jones, American record producer, conductor, arranger, composer, television producer, film producer, instrumentalist, magazine founder, record company executive, humanitarian and jazz trumpeter.

*The Arison Alumni Award, which was established in 2006 to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary, is granted to past YoungArts winners in recognition of noteworthy contributions and professional achievements in his/her chosen art form.