This was a big month for DC’s young artists. This week, the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Young Playwrights Theater a Youth Program Award. Young playwright Mariana Pavon Sanchez received the award on behalf of YPT from First Lady Michelle Obama. Mariana is the author of the play, “Mariana’s Wish” about a young woman who longs to visit her mother in Nicaragua, but must first convince her father to give his permission. Mentors of Minorities in Education Inc. was the second DC-based group to receive an award. Gee, I remember receiving their grant applications when I was program director at the Humanities Council of Washington, DC back in the day. It’s always great to see organizations you’ve known since the beginning get applause.
In the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar, an interview by Laura Brown with the First Lady features photos with D.C.-based performing arts groups including students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University, and dancers from the Joy of Motion Dance Center (posing with members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and Indian dance troupe Bhangra Empire).
Since my last September issues, I’ve given Bazaar thumbs up on diversity in their fashion spread with real people (still needs a little work with models…but I digress).
I recall former social secretary Desiree Rogers saying earlier this year that the White House and the First Lady’s office would focus on encouraging arts professionals to mentor young artists. Whereas Jacqueline Kennedy put a spotlight on arts that inspire, this White House wants to focus on artists that aspire to greatness.
I can testify that I have been inspired by peers, especially the ones a grade or more ahead of me, who aspired to be great artists. I would watch them receive their accolades saying to myself, “that’s going to be me.” In some instances I achieved, in others, I had to chalk it up to a “teachable moment.” But if there was a First Lady in the White House as supportive and enthusiastic about young artists as Michelle Obama when I was in high school, I definitely would’ve aspired to that special invitation.