First Lady Michelle Obama Makes GRAMMY Museum Speech - Give 'Every Child' Access to the Arts
First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the keynote address at The GRAMMY Museum's Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon today, July 16, 2014 at Club Nokia at L.A. LIVE. The event honored Southern California-based educator Sunshine Cavalluzzi and six-time GRAMMY nominee Janelle Monáe.
Building on the museum's successful education programs and initiatives, the Jane Ortner Educator Award honors educators who find innovative ways to engage students by integrating music in their classrooms and curricula, and the Jane Ortner Artist Award recognizes an artist's dedication to education through the arts.
Read some of the First Lady's remarks below!
"...we know that engagement in the arts can unlock a world of possibilities for our young people, especially when it comes to their education.
"Studies show that kids who are involved in the arts have higher grades, higher graduation rates, higher college enrollment rates. And when you think about it, that's not really surprising. Because for many young people, arts education is the only reason they get out of bed in the morning. Just like Janelle, they go to school each day because there's an instrument they want to play, a musical they want to perform in, a painting they are dying to finish. See, and then once they arrive in those classrooms, that's when we can teach them something else, like math and writing and science. That is the power of the arts for so many of our young people.
"...We need to be thinking about the six million children in this country who don't have a single art or music class in their schools...Think about the neighborhoods where so many of our kids live -- neighborhoods torn apart by poverty and violence. Those kids have no good outlets or opportunities, so for them everything that's bottled up -- all that despair and anger and fear -- it comes out in all the wrong places. It comes out through guns and gangs and drugs, and the cycle just continues.
"But the arts are a way to channel that pain and frustration into something meaningful and productive and beautiful. And every human being needs that, particularly our kids. And when they don't have that outlet, that is such a tremendous loss, not just for our kids, but for our nation. And that's why the work you all are doing is so important.
"But we can't stop here. Yes, you all have an abundance of riches here in Los Angeles. And yes, we do have a pretty big platform at the White House; people do tend to accept our invitations to perform and interact with young people. We've got a little leverage. But let's not forget that there are theaters and symphonies and museums in cities and towns all across this country. And with every exhibit and performance they put on, these folks should be asking themselves, "How can we get some kids in here? How can we get these artists and performers to connect with young people in those communities?"
"In other words, every arts organization in this country should be embracing the mission of the Grammy Museum. Because we cannot be satisfied until every child in America has some kind of exposure to the arts -- every child. Every child."
First Lady Michelle Obama has made arts and education a top priority. Promoting service and working with young people has remained a staple of her career and her interest. Mrs. Obama's Reach Higher initiative focuses on the importance of pursuing and completing some form of higher education, and encourages students to do their part to answer the President's call to ensure that by the year 2020, America once again has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Under her leadership, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities continues to compile an impressive legacy, conducting major research and policy analysis, and catalyzing important federal cultural programs, both domestic and international. Most recently, Mrs. Obama hosted the first-ever White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show, highlighting the schools and communities using the arts to help turnaround some of our most troubled schools.