Dr. Constance Clayton to Receive 31st Founder’s Award

Fleisher Art Memorial will proudly honor Dr. Constance E. Clayton with the 31st Founder’s Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant commitment to providing access to the arts, promoting excellence in creative expression, and enriching Philadelphia’s cultural resources. Join us to honor Dr. Clayton and celebrate the achievements of young artists in Fleisher’s arts education programs. Learn more about the celebration or become a sponsor.

Among her many achievements, Dr. Clayton was the first African American and the first woman to lead the School District of Philadelphia. She served as superintendent for eleven years before she retired in 1993. Since her retirement, Dr. Clayton has made a remarkable impact on the arts. She served on the board of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and established the Constance E. Clayton Curatorial Fellowship, which provides African American scholars with an opportunity to gain experience at the museum in preparation for a career as a curator or educator. In 2019, Dr. Clayton contributed more than seventy works to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which was on view in the exhibition Awakened in You, accessible to thousands of Philadelphia schoolchildren and inspiring future artists, collectors, and museum audiences with work that speaks to the human experience.

Inspired by Dr. Clayton’s legacy as an educator, civic leader, and arts advocate dedicated to helping children succeed, Fleisher has continued to provide enriching arts education to young artists during the pandemic. A partnership with the Office of Children & Families helped Fleisher deliver art care kits to more than 4,000 children, along with online art lessons for fun, at-home art-making. Each Saturday, children in grades K-8 gather online for live projects with beloved teaching artists, and Fleisher’s after-school Teen Lounge, a national model, continues to provide a supportive space for high school students to connect. Fleisher is serving a critical role in supporting its social service partners by transforming its studios and Sanctuary into a Philadelphia Access Center, a safe learning space for teens who lack internet access or adult supervision at home.

In honor of Dr. Clayton, Fleisher will present a vibrant exhibition of work created by hundreds of children from neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia at Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront in July 2021, along with a month-long calendar of opportunities for families to make and learn about art.

We hope that the outdoor space will make it safer for our community to visit this celebration of community creativity, including a special gathering for supporters. Fleisher will premiere a video honoring Dr. Clayton at Cherry Street Pier that will serve as an uplifting message to children in our community. The health and well-being of Fleisher’s vibrant community of supporters and artists remain the top priority and will continue to inform decision-making around this special event.

Gifts made in honor of Dr. Clayton’s receipt of the 31st Founder’s Award will be acknowledged with the Constance E. Clayton Leadership Award, an annual paid internship at Fleisher for a Philadelphia teen artist to support professional experience in the creative workforce. Your gift will be a meaningful tribute to Dr. Clayton, and will further Fleisher’s work to help thousands of talented Philadelphia children achieve their full creative potential.

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