By Ruth Johnson
On May 1, Phi Beta Kappa presented its second Key of Excellence Award and $5,000 to the Massachusetts Cultural Council at a reception celebrating the arts, humanities, and sciences at Boston Symphony Hall. As part of Phi Beta Kappa’s National Arts & Sciences Initiative, The Key of Excellence Awards celebrate and grow support for arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across the country.
“The Phi Beta Kappa Society created the Key of Excellence Awards to energize support for the arts and sciences because of their value to the nation,” said ΦBK President Katherine Soule. “The Key of Excellence showcases innovative programs that demonstrate the excellence, range, and relevance of the arts and sciences to communities. We aim to show decision makers that arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity, and invests in America.”
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Phi Beta Kappa selected it for its leadership in efforts to provide youth and other vulnerable populations with in-depth arts, humanities, and science experiences. Phi Beta Kappa noted several programs in particular when honoring the Council including: YouthReach, Big Yellow School Bus, STARS (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) Residencies, and Hire Culture.
MCC Executive Director Anita Walker said of the honor: “How exciting to receive this national honor from the Phi Beta Kappa Society for our work here in Massachusetts. This recognition of the agency’s work on behalf of young people arrives on the heels of our national summit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the YouthReach Initiative. Through the summit a national policy agenda focused on creative youth development was put into motion. This recognition from ΦBK will certainly further energize those efforts.”
Through all of these programs and more, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has built a solid arts, humanities and sciences foundation for Massachusetts’s youth. In addition, the Council is proving that programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences are vital to a state’s economy—accounting for 27,000 jobs and contributing $1.2 billion into the state’s economy.
Jack Williams, the Emmy-Award-winning anchor of Boston’s CBS WBZ-TV News, emceed the event. Speakers included State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Vanessa Calderón-Rosado of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, Joseph P. Cox of Ecotarium, and Nina Zannieri of the Paul Revere Memorial Association. Also in attendance were Anita Walker, the executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Kate Soule, president of Phi Beta Kappa, and John Churchill, secretary of Phi Beta Kappa.
To see video from the event, visit http://www.pbk.org/artssciencesaction.
L-R: Jack Williams, WBZ-TV; Phi Beta Secretary John Churchill; Anita Walker, Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Phi Beta Kappa President Katherine Soule; and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. Photo by Brendan Mercure.
Ruth Johnson is a junior at Agnes Scott College studying theatre and political science. Agnes Scott is home to the Beta of Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.