BOSTON – This afternoon at the Massachusetts State House, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) was presented with the 2013 Legislative Leadership Award from Arts|Learning (A|L). Downing, who was chosen in recognition of his steadfast support of the arts and culture, accepted the honor from executive director Jonathan C. Rappaport and Gregory Liakos, communications director for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).
"Arts|Learning is thrilled present this award to Senator Downing, who has been a staunch supporter of funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council,” said Rappaport. “The MCC helps enrich arts education in hundreds of schools across the state through artist residency programs and busing students to exhibits and performances at cultural organizations. This makes an enormous difference in the quality of the education for tens of thousands Massachusetts youth."
“I am honored by this recognition today,” said Downing. “Growing up and living in the Berkshires, I have seen firsthand the power of the arts to create community, drive the economy and stimulate discussion. I appreciate this recognition and look forward to continued collaborations with the MCC and other wonderful organizations like Arts|Learning.”
The mission of Arts|Learning is to transform education through the power of the arts. A|L develops and advocates policies, practices, programs and partnerships for a new level of excellence in pre-K through college teaching and learning, in and through the arts. Arts|Learning is also the Massachusetts representative of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.
As vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, Downing is an avid advocate of arts and culture, which in turn support western Massachusetts’ cultural economy and the state’s overall economic development.
“Senator Downing has been a strong and consistent supporter of the arts and arts education throughout his tenure in the Senate,” said Anita Walker, MCC executive director. “This is a most appropriate recognition of his work on behalf of all the young people in Massachusetts who benefit from opportunities to be creative.”
Since 1984, Arts|Learning has been recognizing exceptional individuals and organizations who advocate for the arts in order to ensure that every child in Massachusetts receives a high-quality arts education. Through its annual Champions of Arts Education awards, more than 250 arts educators, schools of excellence, school administrators, school committees, parent advocates, legislators, community organizations, cultural institutions and businesses have been honored.