KEYNOTE: The 33rd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy
Recorded On: 06/23/2020
The live viewing for the 33rd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy has already occurred. You may still register for the event to have access to the recorded content. This content will be uploaded within the next few days.
The 33rd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy was presented live as the opening keynote presentation of the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 11:30 AM EDT. Delivering this year's lecture virtually will be Vijay Gupta, renown citizen artist, social justice advocate, acclaimed violinist, 2018 MacArthur Fellow, and Americans for the Arts board member. You can view this thought-provoking and artistic event free by either registering here on this page for just the lecture or registering for the entire Americans for the Arts Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference, where the lecture is included in your paid registration.
Vijay Gupta believes that the work of the artist and the work of citizenship is the same: to create the world we want to see in our small, everyday actions—one person, one relationship, and one note at a time.
Hailed as “one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music,” Mr. Gupta is an esteemed violinist and speaker. Mr. Gupta’s labor of love lies in the founding and directing of Street Symphony, which brings music to people in shelters, clinics, county jails and prisons. Mr. Gupta’s work serves to engage people across vast social and economic differences—people who would often never be in the same room together—to create new transformative conversations about belonging and citizenship. Mr. Gupta’s work brings beauty, respite, and purpose to those all too often ignored by society, while encouraging us to reflect on many ways we can all make a difference and truly be citizens in our world today.
We all have a story that matters. Mr. Gupta’s story began just north of New York City in 1987, where he was born to Indian immigrants who immersed him equally in the cultures of West Bengal and Western Europe. Mr. Gupta began playing the violin at a young age, and after only three years of study, auditioned for the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College program. He played his solo debut under the baton of Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a teenager, toured the U.S., Europe, Japan, and his Indian motherland as a soloist and recitalist. As an undergraduate, he continued to study violin performance while also following a course of study in biology, which led him to research internships at City University of New York and the Harvard Institutes of Medicine where, ironically, he received the most encouragement and support to make a life not as a researcher or doctor, but as a musician. Mr. Gupta continued his musical training at the Yale School of Music before taking an audition for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra where, in 2007, he became the youngest violinist to win a position in the orchestra’s history.
Soon after joining the orchestra, Mr. Gupta discovered that his new hometown was the epicenter of the crisis of homelessness in America today. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis today, thousands of Angelenos sleep on the streets, and even more are incarcerated in the largest county jail system on the planet—effectively our world’s largest psychiatric facility. In 2010, Mr. Gupta started organizing musical events for audiences he would never meet in Walt Disney Concert Hall, performing classical chamber music with his colleagues across the city at homeless shelters, mental health clinics, hospitals and Veterans centers, Los Angeles county jails and California state prisons—and even the very streets of Skid Row.
As a grassroots movement of music, the musical offerings of Street Symphony encompass not only the world of classical and choral music, but the traditions of Mariachi, Jazz, West-African drumming, Romani music, folk songs, and most importantly, musical offerings from and by the community of Skid Row—music from people who have themselves experienced homelessness and incarceration. In this radical model of hospitality and exchange, the musicians of Street Symphony share their gifts, and their stage, with the community they serve. They learn and grow with each other. Mr. Gupta says that often, the professionals are the ones who walk away with the greater gift.
Mr. Gupta is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a 2017 Citizen Artist Fellowship from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship. (Each day, Mr. Gupta shares a musical meditation on Instagram centered on the music of Bach, and he encourages you to all follow along @Gupta_violin).
Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, having made history in 2007 when she was elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. Now in her third term as Speaker, Ms. Pelosi made history again in January 2019 when she regained her position second-in-line to the presidency, the first person to do so in more than 60 years.
As Speaker Ms. Pelosi is fighting for the people, working to lower health care costs, increase workers’ pay through strong economic growth and rebuilding America, and clean up corruption to make Washington work for all.
Thanks to Our Sponsors
Special thanks to The Rosenthal Family Foundation (Jamie Rosenthal Wolf, Rick Rosenthal, and Nancy Stephens) and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck for their generous support of this keynote.
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