On March 23rd, Norman Lear delivered the 28th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, a leading national forum for arts policy, intended to stimulate discussion of policy and social issues affecting the arts. The lecture provides an opportunity for public discourse at the highest levels on the importance of the arts and culture to our nation's well-being. Norman Lear spoke about his own career and the arts as they relate to social issues of our time.

Lear was introduced by musician and actor COMMON, who he collaborated with recently on the Television Academy's "An Evening with Norman Lear," about his influence on hip hop culture.

The lecture featured a special performance by the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

2015 Transcript

Opening Remarks
Robert L. Lynch
President and CEO, Americans for the Arts

Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe Award-winning Artist

Norman Lear 
Groundbreaking television producer, author, and social activist

Youth Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Watch the complete 2015 Nancy Hanks Lecture (1:36:34)


Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film, and as a political and social activist and philanthropist. He began his television writing career in 1950, later teaming up with director Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Productions. They produced several feature films, with Norman taking on roles as executive producer, writer and director. He was nominated in 1967 for an Academy Award for his script for Divorce American Style. In 1970, CBS signed with Tandem to produce All in the Family, which ran for nine seasons and won four Emmy Awards for best comedy series as well as the Peabody Award in 1977. All in the Family was followed by a succession of other hit shows including Maude, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, Good Times and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Concerned about the growing influence of radical religious evangelists, Mr. Lear decided to leave television  in 1980 and formed People for the American Way, a nonprofit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms. Norman is chairman of Act III Communications, a multimedia holding company with interests in the recording, motion picture, broadcasting, publishing and licensing industries. In addition to People for the American Way, Mr. Lear has founded other nonprofit organizations, including The Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School, which studies and shapes the impact of media and entertainment on society, and the Business Enterprise Trust to spotlight exemplary social innovations in American business.

In 1989, he co-founded the Environmental Media Association with his wife Lyn to mobilize the entertainment industry to become more environmentally responsible. He was among the first seven television pioneers inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame (1984). He is married to Lyn Davis Lear and has six children and 4 grandchildren. Norman Lear's biography, "Even This I Get to Experience", was released by Penguin Books on October 14, 2014.