Five Questions for Paul Lehr

YoungArts president works to #KeepArtsAlive

YoungArts Awareness Day is on September 8 and represents yet another innovative initiative designed to draw positive attention to the arts and to arts education.

To learn more about YoungArts Awareness Day, SocialMiami had five questions for Paul Lehr, president and CEO of YoungArts.

What is YoungArts Awareness Day?
YoungArts Awareness Day is one-day, nationwide initiative to “keep arts alive.” On this day, we will be celebrating the thousands of young artists around the nation, and encouraging them to pursue their passion – and a career in the arts – which in turn, will help to ensure the future of the arts in our nation. We have a number of events and initiatives planned in Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville, as well as on social media (using the hashtags #keepartsalive, #youngartsawarenessday and #youngarts), and sincerely hope that everyone with an appreciation for the arts will take part in and/or support us in our efforts. All of the details can be found at:

Who are some of the YoungArts alums involved in YoungArts Awareness day?
YoungArts alumni our rallying around YoungArts Awareness Day! In fact, Lee Pivnik, a 2014 visual artist alumnus from Miami, created and designed all of the artwork and merchandise for the day. Some alumni, such as Grace Weber, Elliot Skinner, Lili Fuller and David Leon, are participating in pop-up performances in Miami, New York City and Los Angeles. Other alumni, such as Kerry Washington, Ricky Ubeda, Josh Groban, Jennifer Koh, Ryan McCartan, Chris Young and Max Schneider, are helping us spread the word about YoungArts Awareness Day through interviews and social media.

Joshua Bell is a part of the day’s festivities. Can you tell us about that?
Joshua Bell is a staunch supporter of YoungArts, and of arts education in general. He recently shot an episode of the three-time Emmy nominated HBO family documentary YoungArts MasterClass, during which he mentored and performed with nine of our alumni: violinists Mariella Haubs (2014 YoungArts Winner), Kevin Hu (2011 YoungArts Winner and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Sirena Huang (2012 YoungArts Winner) and Kelly Talim (2013 YoungArts Winner); violists Leah Ferguson (2011 YoungArts Winner) and Bradley Parrimore (2013 YoungArts Winner); cellists Brannon Cho (2013 YoungArts Winner) and Anna Litvinenko (2012 YoungArts Winner); and bassist Zachary Ostroff (2011 YoungArts Winner in Jazz and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts).

YoungArts Awareness Day will culminate on the YoungArts Campus with the premiere screening of Joshua Bell: YoungArts MasterClass. This is the first time we are screening this show here in Miami. It will be followed by a salon and performance with Bell and all nine alumni, which will be moderated by Elizabeth Sobol, the President & CEO of Universal Music Classics, and is sponsored by the Knight Foundation.

On social media, you’re promoting #KeepArtsAlive. Is there a danger that arts can die?
Yes, sadly. As funding for the arts and arts education continues to decline, this danger is becoming more and more real. That is why programs like YoungArts, which identifies and supports the next generation of artists and contributes to the cultural vitality of the nation by investing in the artistic development of talented young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts, are so important. On that note, we hope that YoungArts Awareness Day, which coincides with National Arts Education Week, will serve as a reminder for young artists to apply to our program at before the October 17 deadline.

What can Miami expect from YoungArts during the 2014/2015 season?
YoungArts is gearing up for a jam-packed season, and will present an array of incredible events on our Miami Campus, as well as in New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Once again, we will be featuring unique multidisciplinary performances and exhibitions on our Miami campus during Art Basel Miami Beach. Some of our other season highlights are Junctures: YoungArts Alumnus Hernan Bas ’96, which opens October 2 and is curated by Thom Collins of PAMM; a Salon and performance with singer-songwriter Ben Folds on October 8; a multidisciplinary alumni performance on October 25, which will launch our new bi-monthly series, Outside the Box; National YoungArts Week and our Backyard Ball, which take place January 4-11 and January 10, respectively; and YoungArts Miami, which takes place March 10-15. We are constantly updating our schedule and adding new events, so be sure to visit for the latest.

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