The annual awards "recognize those artists and arts leaders who exhibit exemplary national leadership and whose work demonstrates extraordinary artistic achievement." In addition to Andrews, 2008 honorees include Joan W. Harris (the Frederick R. Weisman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts), Yoko Ono (Kitty Carlisle Hart Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts), Phil Ramone (Arts Advocacy Award), Kehinde Wiley (Young Artist Award for Artistic Excellence) and J. Barry Griswell of The Principal Financial Group (Corporate Citizenship in the Arts Award).
Andrews is being honored, according to a press statement, for her "profound contributions to both music and acting and for serving as a great role model and mentor for all aspiring artists. She is a champion of the literary arts and a dedicated advocate for childhood literacy. Dame Andrews is a treasured member of the arts community and a source of great national and international pride. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a nationally recognized, established artist with a history of exemplary artistic accomplishment in his or her field."
Julie Andrews — who was born in Surrey, England — starred on Broadway in the original productions of The Boyfriend, My Fair Lady and Camelot, the stage version of Victor/Victoria, and in the Off-Broadway Stephen Sondheim revue, Putting It Together. She won an Academy Award for her work in "Mary Poppins" and Oscar nominations for "The Sound of Music" and "Victor/Victoria."
The National Arts Awards have been presented by Americans for the Arts since 1996. Past honorees include Edward Albee, Wallis Annenberg, Alec Baldwin, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonard Bernstein, Rep. John Brademas, Chuck Close, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Pierre Dulaine, Aretha Franklin, Frank Gehry, Martha Graham, Agnes Gund, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Helen Hayes, Sheila C. Johnson, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Jacob Lawrence, John Legend, Gerald M. Levin, Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Portman, Cindy Sherman, Beverly Sills, Anna Deavere Smith, David Rockefeller, Isaac Stern, Mena Suvari, Paul Taylor, Uma Thurman, Kerry Washington and Sanford I. Weill.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. For more information visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org.