New York City, NY

ArtsConnection Throws Annual Gala for NYC Students Hosted by "The Walking Dead' Actor Seth Gilliam

Ann Brown

ArtsConnection is an education nonprofit serving NYC children for 43 years. It offers comprehensive arts education programs and services. Recently, ArtsConnection hosted a "Back to School with ArtsConnection Gala" on September 21.

The 2022 Gala was hosted by stage and screen star Seth Gilliam ("The Walking Dead," "The Wire") and honored champion of the arts Ted Berger, presented by Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Laurie Cumbo. Berger is an inaugural board member of ArtsConnection, has served on numerous non-profit boards, and has helped to create many national and local initiatives serving artists and arts-in-education.

The 2022 Arts Innovator Awards was presented to Clayton Calvert and Parker Calvert, and Josh Campbell; and Linda LeRoy Janklow, ArtsConnection Founding Chair, presented the Janklow Awards to Madonna Sang Lee, Arts Liaison and English as a New Language Teacher, PS382, Bronx, and to Amparo Chigui Santiago, ArtsConnection Teaching Artist.  

"In school and after school, the work ArtsConnection does, focusing on uplifting students' voices, is vital to NYC public school students. Young people are eager to express themselves and we are honored to provide the programs and mentorship they count on," says Rachel Watts, ArtsConnection's Executive Director.

NYC public schools have seen major slashes to their budgets, and among the courses that tend to be affected are the art classes.

Due to school enrollment declines, Mayor Eric Adams has had to cut school funding by over $200 million.

“Any time there are funding cuts, the arts are usually the first to get trimmed,” Mario Asaro, head of the NYC Art Teachers Association, told Hyperallergic. “I can’t see how that won’t affect music and art and other special subjects.”

The Gala hosted up to 250 guests from arts, entertainment, politics and NYC society circles.  The evening will include cocktails, seated dinner, award presentation and live music performances by West Village String Quartet and Ruben Gonzalez & Handmade. 2022 Gala Co-Chairs: Erica Friedman and Dr. Josh Friedman, Linda LeRoy Janklow, Lynne Katzmann and Edward Goodell, Caroline Soyoung Kim, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Josephine Magliocco, Debra Harounian Peltz, Guy Stanley Philoche, Lisa and Richard Plepler, Iris and Gary Posternack, Tracey and Robert Pruzan, Tibisay Salerno and Charlie LeHuray-Jones, Amy Sung and Jeff Buick and our Corporate Sponsors: Centerview Partners LLP, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Soroban Capital Partners LP and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. 

Fran Van Horn, Deputy Director for Development of ArtsConnection, connected with NewsBreak.

NewsBreak: How and why did Mark Wahlberg, Lena Dunham, Daveed Diggs and Cyndi Lauper get involved with ArtsConnection?

Fran Van Horn: ArtsConnection has been lucky and grateful to have contacts with the entertainment industry through members of our board of directors. Those who agree to be presenters and honorees at our annual benefit recognizes the importance of arts education and many benefited from those experiences when they were students. Many are also strong supporters of arts education programs. For instance, The Mark Wahlberg Foundation for Youth supported ArtsConnection's programming for teens for many years. 

NewsBreak: Why is ArtsConnection necessary? 

Fran Van Horn: ArtsConnection was founded more than four decades ago to give public school students access to the arts and provide meaningful work and income for New York artists, both lacking after the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s.

Throughout the past 40 years, funding for arts in the public schools has continued to be less than adequate to give every student a fully comprehensive arts education as part of their daily educational experiences. 

Through a public/private funding partnership, ArtsConnection provides much-needed arts programming to students in pre-K through12th grade across the five boroughs--in music, dance, theater, visual and media arts, strengthening their diverse voices and cultivating their arts and academic skills for success in a changing world.   

Our work extends into the out-of-school-time hours, linking the city’s cultural resources to the developmental and educational needs of teens, eliminating barriers to the arts, and providing opportunities for teens to build career paths into creative industries not available to them during the school day. We also open doors to low-income families through our citywide "Culture Connected" program through free admissions to cultural organizations for families receiving food stamps. 

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Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York City, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cape Verde,” a Facebook community. Among the topics she writes about are: business, travel, entertainment, and lifestyles.

Queens, NY

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