Receiving the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award: An Awardee’s Perspective

Remarks by Fabian Barnes at the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards Reception hosted by Louis Vuitton on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.


Good evening:

Tonight and tomorrow celebrate a tremendous honor for all assembled here.

Each of our programs, honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, represents excellence in after-school youth programming and positive change in our communities.

As representatives of the nation’s leading programs in our field, we are all part of something much larger that continues to manifest itself in generations of successful young people. That’s what this award is about.

For many years now, the Dance Institute of Washington’s Positive Directions Through Dance program has applied for the award. The competition has always been significant. Being recognized this year, I cannot tell you how exceptionally grateful and proud I am to have Positive Directions Through Dance honored among this distinguished class of arts and humanities youth programs.

As we are all aware, the achievements of our programs that have brought us to this point are only possible thanks to the support of our various stakeholders, funders, parents and youth participants. This is their award also.

Receiving this award from First Lady Michelle Obama will help the Dance Institute of Washington and all of the other great organizations by increasing visibility for our programs.

Positive Directions Through Dance is not just a dance program. It’s about the whole child. We prepare our young people to succeed in life and learning through high-quality dance training, life skills workshops, and performance opportunities on DC’s great stages.

Take, for example, Anthony Silver, who came to DIW at age 8, when he and his mother were homeless. Because we were able to provide him with a scholarship, he had an opportunity to grow his skills, confidence, and experience. For high school, he was accepted into the prestigious Virginia School for the Arts and then went on to study at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia.

One hundred percent of our students graduate high school and attend college. Other students have gone on to impressive careers.

Our students learn to work towards a goal, build discipline, acquire self-esteem, and go on to be successful citizens.

All of the organizations here tonight have similar stories of achievement to tell.

Tomorrow, I can imagine no greater honor than joining these leading lights in the arts and the humanities as we go together to the White House.

I encourage all of us to reflect upon the work that we have accomplished together. Let’s view this as another new beginning, a new opportunity to have an even greater impact on the lives of our young people.

Fabian Barnes is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dance Institute of Washington.