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First Lady Offers Hug, $10,000 for After-School Programs

Youth Artist Awards Ceremony
First lady Michelle Obama hugs Lianyun Wu during an awards ceremony for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in the East Room at the White House. Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images via Bloomberg

In the East Room of the White House yesterday, Michelle Obama handed out hugs, plaques and praise for the “boundless promise” offered to young artists and scholars on a “shoestring budget.”

The honorees were 12 after-school programs that received National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, including $10,000 in federal grants. They included the New-York Historical Society, the Urban Assembly at Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice, and the Next Step at Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington.

The first lady pointed to the rising grades and graduation rates among students who participate in music, dance, writing, and other after-school initiatives.

“We’re looking for another four years to do even more,” she said, referring to the Obama administration’s commitment to the arts.

The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which counts Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker as members, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In the audience were Kennedy Center Honors producer George Stevens, the co-chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and James Leach, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mariachi Masters

They were entertained by the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program from San Fernando, California, another award recipient.

Louise Mirrer, the president and chief executive of the New-York Historical Society, attended on behalf of the organization.

She introduced her date, 17-year-old Jonathan Brown, a fourth-year student at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem who is part of the society’s winning program, which connects young history and art buffs with museum professionals.

Tonight the society holds its annual History Makers Gala at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan honoring Walter Isaacson and Wynton Marsalis.

Financial figures expected to attend include Byron Wien, Sanford I. Weill, Arthur Samberg, Joseph A. DiMenna, Richard Gilder and Roger Hertog.

Mirrer said the gala could raise as much as $2.4 million. About $100,000 of the society’s $20 million budget goes to the program that was honored yesterday.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Laurie Muchnick on books, Patrick Cole on music.

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