Preparations are underway for the seventeenth National Arts and Humanities Month, a country-wide smorgasbord of public events, open houses, and media coverage coordinated each October by the nonprofit advocacy group Americans for the Arts. The official partner for the 2009 installment is Art21, the contemporary visual arts organization behind the Emmy-nominated PBS series Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century.
“Everyone recognizes the creative and cultural value of the arts and humanities,” Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts and national coordinator of Arts and Humanities month, said in a press release. “National Arts and Humanities Month offers us a chance to celebrate the often overlooked economic, educational, and civic engagement values that the arts impart in our daily lives.”
Recognized by Congress and held annually since 1993, the month-long celebration grew out of National Arts Week, which was begun in 1985 under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Arts. National Arts and Humanities Month  subsumes a host of cultural events across the country, including the Creative Conversations program, which features emerging arts leaders in local communities, and the National Arts Awards. Honorees at this year’s ceremony—slated for October 5 in New York City—include Salman Rushdie, who will receive the Kitty Carlisle Hart Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts, and Robert Redford, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.