Notice: The Kennedy Center will be open this weekend for regularly scheduled hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to midnight. All events will take place as scheduled.

The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center Arts Summit The Kennedy Center Arts Summit

The Future States of America:
Using the Arts to Take Us Where We Want to Go

April 16, 2018

The Kennedy Center Arts Summit is an annual spring convening designed to bring thought leaders from the arts and related fields together for conversation and connection. Set to be held in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2018, this year’s edition of the Summit will look into the future — what is the collective future we want and how can we use arts, creativity, culture, and technology to get us there? How do we build a future where the markers of certain identities are no longer indicators of barriers or poor outcomes? Through the landscapes of education, health, and finite resources, we will explore stories of existing, visionary projects and engage in dialogues with artists, futurists, scientists, engineers, and policy makers that help us catalyze new projects and partnerships, and bring us closer to activating a future where we all thrive. Together we will engage in a variety of panels, interactive art activities, and curated discussions that concentrate on major themes of identity, representation, creativity, culture, and technology.

Questions on registration? Email

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need [people] who can dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?’”

President John F. Kennedy

Citizen Artist Fellows

About the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition

The Kennedy Center, a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, honors our 35th President everyday by uplifting ideals from his legacy (service, justice, freedom, courage, and gratitude) that live through the arts. As part of this celebration of legacy, the Kennedy Center launched the "Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition" in 2016, which celebrates emerging artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities.

Through a year-long engagement with the Kennedy Center, Citizen Artist Fellows develop and strengthen connections in their fields, receive opportunities for artistic collaboration and presentation, and gain access to Kennedy Center Staff and Artistic Partners for individual professional development. Our intention is that this Recognition Program takes Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows on a journey of investigation, activation, and participation.

Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows represent the overall diversity of the national audience the Kennedy Center strives to reflect and serve.

2017/2018 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows

  • Hakim Bellamy

    Hakim Bellamy, a native of New Jersey, lives in Albuquerque. Bellamy is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Swear (West End Press) and was Albuquerque's inaugural Poet Laureate from 2012-2014. His poetry is published at the Albuquerque Convention Center and in Alternet, TruthOut, Counterpunch, and in many other media. Bellamy has shared the stage with Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, and the Dalai Lama. He has been a featured guest on The Tavis Smiley Show and is the host of the arts program Colores on New Mexico PBS.

    Bellamy's honors include the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association, a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, honorable mention for the University of New Mexico's Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize. He holds an M.A. in Communications from the University of New Mexico and is the founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC.

  • Vijay Gupta

    Vijay Gupta is a violinist, speaker, and advocate for the power of music to change lives. Gupta joined the LA Philharmonic at 19 after completing a masters in violin performance from the Yale School of Music and a bachelors in biology from Marist College. As a 2011 TED Senior Fellow, Gupta founded Street Symphony, a musical engagement initiative bringing live musical performances and dialogue to communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County. Gupta believes that musical engagement reconnects us to our shared humanity across vast divides and ultimately impacts social justice.

  • Ekene Ijeoma

    Ekene Ijeoma is an interdisciplinary artist and designer exploring the intersections of social issues, data studies and life experiences. He creates websites, apps, installations, and performances to translate overlooked facts into informed feelings. Through these multisensory experiences, he hopes to expand people's thoughts and engage them in imagining change. His work has been exhibited at galleries and museums including Annenberg Space for Photography, Neuberger Museum of Art, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Istanbul Design Biennial and Design Museum. He's presented at events and spaces including Design Indaba, Neuberger Museum of Art, Raleigh Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago Architecture Biennial and International Center for Photography. Ekene's a NYFA Fellow and New Lab/Simons Foundation Fellow.

  • De Andrea Nichols

    Through a multi-disciplinary design practice, De Nichols helps changemakers nationwide actualize creative solutions to issues that matter most to them and their communities. Based in St. Louis, she serves as Director of Civic Creatives, a social design organization that organizes interactive experiences to help community members, creative changemakers, and civic organizations connect and resolve critical social challenges. Nichols serves as a Board of Directors member for Forward through Ferguson and chairs the Board of Directors for Creative Reaction Lab. She is a nationally recognized public speaker on designing for civil rights and social justice, and she is a recent recipient of the St. Louis Visionary Award for community impact in the arts.

    Nichols is an alumna of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she specialized in communication design, social entrepreneurship, and socio-economic development. She is a John B. Ervin Scholar, Brown Scholar, and Enterprise-Rent-a-Car Scholar. Her works have been supported by the Smithsonian National Museum for African-American History and Culture, Clinton Global Initiative, Women's Caucus for Art, Gephardt Institute for Public Service, Ideas that Matters, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, StartingBloc Fellowship for Social Innovation, Points of Light, and AshokaU Changemakers.

  • Michelle Angela Ortiz

    Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/ skilled muralist/ community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community.

    For over fifteen years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In 2016, she completed the first U.S. State funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba.
    Ortiz was awarded the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation. She is a fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts, recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award and Art & Change Grant.

  • Katie Wyatt

    Katie Wyatt is an accomplished musician, executive and innovator in music and social change. In July 2010, Katie co-founded and became Executive Director of Kidznotes, North Carolina's premiere "El Sistema" inspired organization. Katie is immersed in El Sistema, the international movement of music for social change hailing from Venezuela, and through the movement has become a national leader in building access and creating opportunities for all people to experience the transformative power of orchestras and music. She enjoys teaching "Music and Social Entrepreneurship" as adjunct faculty at Duke University, and as a violist has performed with chamber groups and orchestras around the world. In July 2016, Katie became the first Executive Director for El Sistema USA, the national network supporting the U.S. national movement of El Sistema, and established a new headquarters at Duke University.