Balthazar Cordova, 17, of Miami was in was in the Nation’s capital in early November to receive an award from all three federal arts and culture agencies on behalf of Pérez Art Museum Miami’s (PAMM) Brick x Brick community outreach program.
The program was recognized for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people by engaging them through creative youth development programs. The after-school program received the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for these programs.
The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to generate a wide range of positive outcomes, such as increases in academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The awardees — chosen from a pool of 350 nominations and 50 finalists — also were recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
First presented in 1998, the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is presented through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in cooperation with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).
“I’m proud to represent my peers in accepting this award for PAMM,” Cordova said. “A lot of people think that arts education just prepares you to become an artist, but it doesn’t. Arts education can be applied to all different kinds of disciplines — giving the tools to kids like me to change lives and communities.”
PAMM is the largest provider of art education outside of Miami-Dade County School District. Its Brick x Brick program was created to reach teens in underserved communities throughout Miami-Dade County and transform lives through art. Since its founding in 2007, the program has engaged more than 600 students with art and design learning activities to discover the power of their creativity to change their circumstances and communities.
In the program, students learn problem-solving skills, how to collaborate in a team, and critical thinking. The powerful impact of the program is illustrated by the many teens who find their voice, passions, and confidence through the program to change their lives and the world around them.
“By engaging and inspiring young people, Brick x Brick gives students not just the vision but the practical skills to apply lessons learned with arts-based learning, into their lives, families and communities,” said PAMM director Franklin Sirmans.
In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, Brick x Brick will receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more young people from the community.