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Fleisher Art Memorial Receives Prestigious National Award at the White House from First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama presents the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award to Fleisher Art Memorial. Accepting the award in the East Room of the White House on November 2 were Matt Braun, former Executive Director and Zulmarie Nazario, a student participant in the program.

Fleisher Art Memorial is a 2011 recipient of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation's highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs. Fleisher was the only 2011 recipient from Pennsylvania and one of only 12 organizations out of a possible 471 organizations nominated from across the country, selected to receive this prestigious annual award.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is a signature initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities™ in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services™. The award showcases cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children and young people.

Mayor Michael Nutter greeted Teen Lounge participants and other students at the award celebration and proclaimed Wednesday, November 2, 2011, Fleisher Art Memorial Youth Arts Education Day. (Photos: Mark Garvin.)

Matt Braun, former Executive Director, and Zulmaire Nazario, a participant in Fleisher's Teen Lounge Program, accepted the award on behalf of Fleisher from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Ceremony.

When learning that Fleisher Art Memorial had received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award, Mayor Michael Nutter said, "Fleisher's program stands as a model—both locally in Philadelphia and nationally—for others who are serving today's youth. By engaging and inspiring young people, Fleisher is giving them not just the vision but the skills to build a new and better life for themselves and their families, and for our community. We're incredibly proud of Fleisher and the youth involved in this program."

Each Year, Fleisher Art Memorial's Youth Arts Programs provide more than 2,000 young people in Philadelphia with creative and transformative arts experiences. Fleisher engages youth ages 5-19 in free, high-quality art-making classes, workshops, and residencies that emphasize inquiry, experimentation, and appreciation, providing each student with a positive means of self-expression.

Fleisher's Youth Arts Programs provide three primary gateways into art-making:

  • Fleisher Art School, offering free, year-round art classes for young people on Saturdays that culminate in a student exhibit in Fleisher's galleries
  • Community Partnerships in the Arts, which provides artists in residence at partnering social service agencies and Philadelphia's public schools
  • Teen Lounge, an after-school, drop-in program for students 13-19 who create self-guided projects with assistance from professional artists

Fleisher's Youth Arts Programs provide instruction in drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, photography, and printmaking. They also incorporate the rich cultural traditions of diverse communities in Southeast Philadelphia by offering classes such as Cambodian Classical Dance and partnering with organizations including Migrant Education Philadelphia to present programs to students in English and Khmer.

For 115 years, Fleisher Art Memorial has maintained its mission to make art accessible to everyone regardless of economic means, background or artistic experience and has remained committed to advancing the vision of its founder Samuel Fleisher who invited the world "to come and learn art." Fleisher serves over 17,000 youth and adults annually through its free classes, low cost-workshops, community programs, and exhibitions.