Katzenberg, Ronstadt Receive White House Arts Honors

Democratic donor and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is among the 21 recipients of arts and humanities medals today from President Barack Obama.

Other recipients of the honor include singer Linda Ronstadt, radio host Diane Rehm, choreographer Bill T. Jones and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“Your accomplishments have enriched our lives,” Obama said at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. The arts “are not incidental to the American experience, they are essential to it.”

Katzenberg, now chief executive officer of the DreamWorks studio, was awarded an arts medal “for lighting up our screens and opening our hearts through animation and cinema,” the White House said when announcing the medal recipients. The awards are given by the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, intended to support excellence, innovation, research and learning.

Katzenberg was among the attendees at a fundraiser Obama headlined in May in the gated Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles at the home of Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Since then, he has co-hosted fundraisers for Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, of Kentucky, and Wendy Davis, a Democrat running for governor in Texas, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks campaign finance data.


The other medal of arts honorees are: novelist and poet Julia Alvarez, of Weybridge, Vermont; Chicago arts patron Joan Harris; New York musical theater composer John Kander; Maxine Hong Kingston, a writer from Oakland, California; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles of New York; New York architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams; visual artist James Turrell of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Those awarded the humanities medal are: Ithaca, New York literary critic M.H. Abrams; historians David Brion Davis of Connecticut, Darlene Clark Hine of Chicago, and Anne Firor Scott of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; East Asia studies scholar William Theodore De Bary or Tappan, New York; Bainbridge, Washington architect Johnpaul Jones; filmmaker Stanley Nelson of New York; St. Paul, Minnesota radio host Krista Tippett; and the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Massachusetts.

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