Philanthropist Maria Arena Bell Receives Montblanc Arts Honor

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Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award North American Recipient Maria Arena Bell )
Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award North American Recipient Maria Arena Bell )

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Montblanc

Montblanc celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award on Monday evening at the iconic Chateau Marmont to novelist, television and freelance writer, and philanthropist Maria Arena Bell for her efforts that make the arts accessible to broader audiences.

As the former long-term chair and later president of Los Angeles’ PS Arts, Bell has lead the charge to raise funds to provide arts education to over 25,000 low income Los Angeles public elementary school children. She chaired The National Arts Awards for Americans For The Arts (a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington DC) for over a decade and served as its Vice Chair lobbying on Capitol Hill for increased funding for the NEA and art in schools. She created American’s for the Arts’ Bell Family Foundation Young Artist award, which has been given to artists such as actress Dakota Fanning, dancer David Hallberg and musician Josh Groban. Bell also served as the co-chair from 2009-14 at The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA). During her tenure, she co-chaired the search for two directors and co-chaired the successful campaign to raise the museum’s endowment to over $100 million. In addition, Bell created five remarkable artist galas with artists such as Marina Abramovic, Francesco Vezzolli and Doug Aitken. In the fall of 2012 Bell was nominated by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and was subsequently sworn in on December 11, 2012 as Commissioner to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Committee.

MOMA PS1 Director Klaus Bienebach, Eli Broad and Edythe Broad
MOMA PS1 Director Klaus Bienebach, Eli Broad and Edythe Broad

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Montblanc

Director and Chief Curator at Large of MoMA PS1, Klaus Biesenbach, was joined by newly appointed Co-Chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil to present the honoree with a Patron of Art Peggy Guggenheim limited edition fountain pen encased in a trophy, along with 15,000 euros to benefit the arts at MoMa PS1.

Sylvain Costof, President, Montblanc North America kicked off the evening’s cocktail reception introducing Biesenbach, who made opening remarks on Maria Arena Bell’s work with the charity PS Arts and also that Bell has raised over $100 million for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. During her speech Maira Arena Bell commented on how writing is her art and that art should be for the masses and for all to enjoy.

Guests in attendance not only celebrated Maria Arena Bell and Montblanc but also raised a toast to philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad in attendance. Coincidentally it was Eli’s birthday that evening, and he had stopped by to acknowledge Maria Arena Bell and her work before leaving for birthday celebrations. Other attendees at the cocktail party included Ashley Greene,  Bryce Dallas Howard, Caroline “Chuck” Grant, rGisella Marengo, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy III, Jonas Wood, Thomas Houseago, Jackie & Irving Blum and more. The visionary award, which recognizes modern-day patrons for their work and contributions to the arts and culture,

Actresses Ashley Greene and Bryce Dallas Howard
Actresses Ashley Greene and Bryce Dallas Howard

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Montblanc

The Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award is hosted in 16 different countries around the world. American honoree Maria Arena Bell was selected by an international jury of 44 celebrated arts influencers that were brought together by the Montblanc Cultural Foundation. The notable board of jurors evaluate each winner based on their history of personal commitment and contributions to the arts.This year’s jury included contemporary artist Dustin Yellin, Spanish Academy Goya award winning actress Macarena Gómez, Columbian film director Simón Brand, world renowned composer Chiu Tsang Hei, Latin American photographer Flor Garduño and more.

Every year since 1992, the prestigious Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award has recognized the outstanding achievements and important contributions of modern day patrons, reinforcing today’s importance of patronage in making arts and culture accessible to broader audiences. Since the award’s inception, over 4 million euros have been awarded to 230 projects across the world as a result of the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award. Bell joins a prestigious list of past honorees, including Yoko Ono, Quincy Jones, Craig Robbins, HRH Charles Prince of Wales, Jane Rosenthal, Peter M. Brant and Queen Sofia of Spain.

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