"One Work of Art, One Relationship, One Lifetime at a Time."

Ed. Note: In case you missed it, watch the live video chat with members and co-chairs of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, including visual artist Chuck Close, ballet dancer Damian Woetzel, and co-chairs Margo Lion and George Stevens.

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama, honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), celebrated fifteen exemplary programs from across the country that reach underserved youth by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

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In her remarks, the First Lady spoke about the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education and thanked the teachers, administrators, and artists that keep these programs running each and every day, particularly during tough economic times: 

But against all the odds, you’ve kept going. You’ve kept teaching and mentoring and innovating because you know, like all of us know, that these programs, programs like yours, can help our young people expand their imaginations and tap into their creativity. 

You’ve seen how the arts and humanities can broaden their horizons and help them discover a talent or a mission or a sense of purpose that they never knew they had.

The First Lady Hosts the PCAH's National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

First Lady Michelle Obama, the honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), speaks about the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – the country’s highest honor in this field during an East Room event, October 20, 2010. (by Chuck Kennedy)

She spoke about how experiences in the arts and the humanities foster creative and intellectual development -- and change lives:

But the real beauty is that you’re doing more than just teaching these young people how to become better artists or better musicians. You’re also connecting them with mentors and college counselors. You’re helping them become better people. And you’re giving them skills that will help make their futures that much brighter. 

When a student writes a play, she’s not just learning how to put lines on a page.  She’s boosting her language skills, becoming a better public speaker, gaining a sense of pride in her ability to set a goal and to reach it.  When students are paired up with mentors, it’s about more than just keeping their grades up or strengthening their college applications. 

It’s about connecting them with someone who’s been where they’ve been, who’s willing to take a genuine interest in their future, and who can show them what it takes to succeed in the studio, in the classroom, and in life.  And when a group of young people comes together to put on a show or create a piece of artwork, it’s not just about getting recognition for the work they’ve created. It’s about learning what it means to share a gift with others, and give back to the people who’ve made a difference in their own lives.

And together, they’re bringing so much joy to so many.  You’re showing our students that each of them has something valuable to contribute to this life. And you’re opening their eyes to a world of possibility that awaits them –- one work of art, one relationship, one lifetime at a time.

The 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award awardees are:

After-School Playwriting Program
Young Playwrights’ Theater, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP)
Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Institutions, Inc.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Center for Community Arts Partnerships
Community Schools Initiative
Columbia College Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Community MusicWorks
Providence, R.I.

FACT After–School Programs
Fine Arts for Children and Teens, Inc.
Santa, Fe, N.M.

Girlstories Theatre Project and Workshops
Powerstories Theatre, Inc.
Tampa, Fla.

New Directions YouthArts
City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs
Las Vegas, Nev.

Project ALERTA
University of Massachusetts
Boston, Mass.

RiverzEdge Arts Project
Woonsocket, R.I.

San Francisco WritersCorps
Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco, Calif.

Scripps College Academy
Scripps College
Claremont, Calif.

The After School Program
Mentors of Minorities in Education, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Artists Collective’s Transforming the Lives of High Risk Youth: Training in the Arts & Culture of the African Diaspora
Artists Collective, Inc.
Hartford, Conn.

Urban Voices
Global Action Project, Inc.
New York, N.Y.

YouthCAN
Wing Luke Asian Museum
Seattle, Wash.

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