Russell Simmons’ 3rd annual Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation Rush HeARTS Education Valentine’s Day Luncheon hosted by Cynthia Nixon, was held earlier today at The Plaza Hotel and honored designer Zac Posen; model and UNHCR Ambassador, Alek Wek; and Tony award winning actress, Patina Miller. Grammy winning R& B artist Tamia performed.
The event raises funds for Rush’s education programs for New York City’s inner city youth. The programs consist of Rush Galleries in the Schools, Rush Toddlers, Rush Kids and Rush Teens and are designed to inspire students, provide alternatives to high risk behaviors, and increase academic performance by filling the void of arts education programs in public schools.
“Art education is critical” and “schools without art education, is like being without Christmas” stated Mr. Simmons from the stage as he advocated for legislators to put arts education back in schools. He also expressed appreciation for the opportunity to help young people and thanked the honorees for their support and their work in helping to foster art education in our communities.
Ms. Wek was presented her award by stylist and TV personality, Robert Verdi, and shared her experiences of being raised in Africa by her heroes – a Mom and Dad who taught her the value of education which “is the key”, and instilled in her a love of art, which “nurtures family, community, and society”. Ms. Wek attributes her painting with helping her heal after her father’s passing.
Designer Zac Posen, whose father was a painter, grew up surrounded by creativity and expressed his gratitude for receiving the honor and articulated the importance of inspiring the next generation to follow their dreams. He pledged to continue to work with young people and help to inspire them toward that end.
Patina Miller who currently stars in Pippin on Broadway, spoke about how her parents pushed her to find creative outlets and stated that she wouldn’t know where she would be without programs like those provided by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. She also urged young members of the audience to never allow anyone to tell them they can’t do anything and to “live their dreams and they will change the world”.
Rush Kid, Dakota Jones took the stage to introduce The Rush Movers dancers, and also eloquently informed attendees about his experience at the Foundation and how it changed his life. He exuded great passion and a love for the arts which inspired everyone.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Rush Philantropic Arts Foundation participants and to those who nurture and allow them to embrace and explore their creativity!
–Deb Gordon/Fresh 102.7
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