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ICA Youth Art Program Wins National Honor

First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates awarding the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program prize to Boston’s ICA with ICA Teen Arts Council member Romario Accime (center) and ICA director Jill Medvedow. (Photo: Steven E. Purcell)

The Institute of Contemporary Art’s “Out-of-School Teen Programs” was one of 12 youth arts programs from across the country that received a 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at the White House yesterday. Also winning the prize, which was delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama and comes with a $10,000 grant, was the AS220 Youth Studio from Providence.

The Boston ICA’s youth projects include teen leadership programs, concerts, and courses in  digital photography, animation and audio production. “The museum created a Teen Arts Council, whose 12–15 paid members preview upcoming exhibitions and plan quarterly Teen Nights at the museum,” the awards program reports. “The events, which include teen-led exhibition tours, bands, and art-making opportunities, draw an average of 200 young people, many of whom have never before visited the ICA. While the Teen Nights and ICA’s other out-of-school programs are open to all teens, the museum focuses its outreach on the under-resourced neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and South Boston, where drop-out rates are high, youth violence is prevalent, and arts opportunities are often lacking, [ICA education director Monica] Garza explains.”

The award is given by 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. They call it “nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.”

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