President Obama presented the National Medal of Arts awards to ten recipients from across the country for outstanding achievements and support of the arts. One of the ten recipients was Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
“It was a great honor, which I accept certainly on behalf of the citizens of the City of Charleston. The National Medal of Arts from President Obama at the White House. The president was so gracious to me and always speaks of his fondness and admiration for the City of Charleston. I’m so proud of our city and what it means to our country,” says Riley.
Mayor Riley says he also found the award to serve as an example to help mayors become better stewards of their environments.“The award in part was to recognize the Mayors Institute for City Design, which I helped start 25 years ago by the National Endowment of the Arts. And, 811 mayors have gone through it. So, lots of cities in America have seen the positive influence of the mayor’s institute. So, it’s a very prideful moment,” says Riley.
Riley explains why he believes Charleston was so deserving of the award: “I think it was a long period of work that the city and citizens and me working with them to make Charleston a national story of a beautiful and livable city. And, then to create the Mayor’s Insitutute for City Design and help city’s mayors of cities all over America understand how they can make their cities more beautiful, and livable and more successful,” says Riley.
Since 1984, every year the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations from across the country. The award recipients are chosen based on their contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the U.S.
(Mayor Riley’s comments, MP3, 2:13)