The American Academy of Arts and Letters is an honor society of 250 architects, composers, artists, and writers. Members of the Academy are elected for life and pay no dues. As vacancies occur, the Academicians nominate and elect new members. The honor of election is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States. Only Academicians may nominate and elect new members.
The Academy’s purpose is to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by identifying and encouraging individual artists. This is done by administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art to be donated to museums. Candidates for awards must be nominated by members of the Academy, with the sole exception of the Richard Rodgers Awards for musical theater.