Maya Lin and Idris Elba are among winners of 2023 Crystal Award

Organised by the World Economic Forum, the award celebrates cultural figures who take forward its mission of improving the state of the world

Actor Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina Elba are among the winners of the 29th annual Crystal Award. Photo: EPA
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Public artist Maya Lin, soprano Renee Fleming and actor Idris Elba and wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba are the recipients of the 29th annual Crystal Award.

Organised by the World Economic Forum, the award celebrates cultural figures who are bridge-builders and reflect on the forum’s mission of improving the state of the world. The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the forum’s Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on January 16.

Previous recipients include filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, author Margaret Atwood, tenor Andrea Bocelli, composer Ravi Shankar, rapper and artist Jenny Holzer.

The Crystal Award is presented at Davos each year by Hilde Schwab, chairwoman and co-founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum.


Lin is receiving the 2023 Crystal Award for her talent in combining science, art and architecture and “her exemplary leadership in the promotion of nature and environment”, said the forum.

“Lin has fashioned a remarkable interdisciplinary career through her highly acclaimed art and architectural works, showcasing sustainable design and emphasising a stronger connection to the land and nature.”

Lin’s work seeks to bring attention to key issues, such as women’s rights, civil rights, Native American history and the climate crisis. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-US president Barack Obama, who said that Lin’s work on Vietnam Veterans Memorial “changed the way we think about sacrifice and patriotism and ourselves”.

Her latest memorial What is Missing? is experimental and multidisciplinary in nature. In this work, Lin uses science-based artworks to raise awareness of the current mass extinctions of species, while emphasising on protecting and restoring habitats and reforming last-use practices.

Fleming is being given the 2023 Crystal Award for “her leadership in championing the power of music and its relation to health, community and culture,” the forum said. “She is one of the most acclaimed sopranos of our time and a leading advocate for research at the intersection of arts, health and neuroscience.”

Fleming launched the first ongoing collaboration between the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts and the US National Institutes of Health with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts. The initiative, titled Sound Health, explores the intersection of music, health and neuroscience.

The Renee Fleming Foundation is now in partnership with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to develop a toolkit for standardising music and health clinical research for brain disorders related to ageing.

Elba and Dhowre Elba are receiving the 2023 Crystal Award for “their leadership in addressing food security, climate change and environmental conservation”.

The couple were appointed UN Goodwill Ambassadors for the International Fund for Agricultural Development in 2020. As part of their role, they focus on issues related to food security, climate change and environmental conservation. The couple recently visited Sierra Leone for an IFAD-supported project, where they met farmers who received support for rice production and assistance with rural finance after the Ebola crisis.

The Luther actor also supports causes related to poverty, HIV/Aids, at-risk and disadvantaged youth, health and education. He worked with the UN and the Department for International Development in the UK during the Ebola health crisis and filmed campaigns in support of Unicef, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. He has recently created a number of youth-focused campaigns to promote education and learning and to discourage violence.

Dhowre Elba, meanwhile, works with a variety of civil society organisations, including Farm Africa, raising funds to help farmers across eastern Africa, and Conservation International on environmental issues. She promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. She also chairs the European board for Global Citizen.

Updated: January 09, 2023, 11:37 AM