Welcome to the The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

The President’s Committee bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives under our Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama.

Photo by Andrea Dylewski
Photo by Andrea Dylewski
Education Slide

The President’s Committee believes that the arts and humanities should be part of the education of every child in America. The PCAH honors organizations and supports initiatives that give young people the opportunity to experience the mastery, discipline and accomplishment that is part of being an artist and scholar.

Photo by Michael JN Bowles
Photo by Michael JN Bowles
Cultural Exchange Slide

International cultural exchange and cooperation in a increasingly interconnected world is more important than ever. By fostering those connections with audiences in the U.S. and abroad, the President’s Committee seeks to share ideas, broaden understanding of the riches of cultural traditions from around the world and expand cooperation to sustain and nurture artists, scholars, performers and institutions.

Video still from Throw Down Your Heart
Video still from Throw Down Your Heart
Creative Economy Slide

Arts, humanities and heritage resources and their creative workers are a key to healthy, vibrant communities, increasing their competitiveness as places to live, work and visit. Festivals, galleries, studios, historic sites and buildings and a wealth of other cultural and historic assets are integral to the identity of communities and neighborhoods. The President's Committee focuses its leadership on the value of civic investment in these critical resources.

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC
Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC
Special Events Slide

A healthy cultural climate requires dedicated citizens and civic leadership. The President’s Committee embodies that principle as a dynamic link between the public and private sectors, which is used to support activities that recognize distinguished artists and humanists, as well as celebrate the diversity of American culture as a source of strength.

Photo by Tony Brown
Photo by Tony Brown

PCAH SpotlightPCAH Spotlight

New Report on Turnaround Arts Points to Success

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) released the results of an independent study that shows substantial gains in student achievement at schools participating in its Turnaround Arts initiative.  The eight schools’ in the pilot phase of the initiative, showing increases in reading and math scores, as well as an increase in attendance and a decrease in suspensions, demonstrate that the program’s use of the arts is having a measureable impact on low-performing schools by increasing student engagement and narrowing the achievement gap. 

The researchers found that, between 2011 and 2014, students at Turnaround Arts schools demonstrated significant progress in student achievement. Of the eight observed schools, seven improved their overall reading proficiency rates and six improved their math proficiency rates. All eight schools improved in at least math or reading. Half of the observed schools improved their attendance rates significantly. And more than half of the schools dramatically reduced suspensions. The schools performed materially better in math and reading scores than comparable schools in their state or district going through a turnaround process but not using the arts.

Over the last three years, Turnaround Arts has brought intensive arts education resources and expertise into schools and worked with school leadership to incorporate the arts as part of their reform strategy. Schools participating in Turnaround Arts have hired new art, music, dance and theater teachers, brought in teaching artists, art supplies and music instruments into schools and supported arts integration into other core subjects such as reading, math, and science.  In May 2014, the program announced a four-fold expansion, and now works in 35 schools in 25 school districts and 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Click here to read a summary of the report and the full report is available here.

The National Student Poets to Participate in Youth and Poetry Forum in Chicago

The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Out Loud’s national competition champions, the 2014 Class of National Student Poets (NSPP) and representatives of poetry slam and spoken word organizations from around the country will convene in Chicago in early April to engage issues around the role of ... Read More »

PCAH Celebrates the 2014 NAHYP Award Winners at White House Ceremony

Twelve young people from across the country shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama as they accepted the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award on behalf of the after-school programs that have changed their lives. The award recognizes the country’s best creative ... Read More »

Class of 2014 National Student Poets Appointed

In a private ceremony at the White House, the President’s Committee Honorary Chair Michelle Obama presented the third class of National Student Poets with their pins, signifying their role as poetry ambassadors for the coming year and identifying them as recipients of the nation’s highest honor ... Read More »

2013 National Student Poets Wrap Up Their Year of Service

The year-long service projects and events held in communities in the five regions represented by the Class of 2013 National Student Poets (NSPP) illuminated how their talent and dedication opened up new horizons for youth and helped shape their future. By design, the events and service ... Read More »
Paula Hannaway Crown

Re-investing in Arts Education: A Chicago Conversation

July 11, 2012 – Paula Hannaway Crown

Last fall, my husband Jim and I hosted a conversation on arts education in Chicago. One of four such conversations held around the country, the evening was designed to bring together thought leaders, administrators, philanthropists and members of President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) to discuss the national imperative of arts education and the PCAH’s landmark report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools. We were pleased to have co-chair Margo Lion, Vice Chair Mary Schmidt Campbell, and fellow PCAH members Damian Woetzel, Yo-Yo Ma, and Howard Gottleib join us for this important evening. Joining them were an impressive list of local academics and educators including: the head of Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard; President Walter Massey of the School of the Art Institute; President Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago; Timothy Knowles of the Urban Education Initiative; and Deborah Rutter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also joining us were a group of prominent civic leaders including Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, Caryn and King Harris, Penny Sebring and Chuck Lewis, Julie and Brian Simmons, ... Read More »
Margo Lion

President's Committee Honored with National Award for Arts Education

October 27, 2011 – Margo Lion

On October 17 at their Gala Dinner in New York City, Americans for the Arts (AFTA) honored the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities with the Arts Education Award.  George Stevens, Jr,. Rachel Goslins, Liz Manne, Ken Solomon and Damian Woetzel joined me for the festivities, which also celebrated artists Frank Stella (Lifetime Achievement Award), Jenny Holzer (Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award) and Gabourey Sidibe (Bell Family Foundation Young Artist Award).   Americans for the Arts (AFTA) really knows how to host an event, and this night was no exception. The evening was buzzing with lively conversation about the role of the arts—in education, in strengthening community and in economic development.  Given the enthusiastic response to our landmark report, Re-investing in Arts Education: Winning America's Future, AFTA chose arts education as a major theme for the evening.  It was deeply gratifying to hear echoed again and again the importance of our research and recommendations to those working tirelessly in the trenches.  There was an especially exciting moment when Stephen Jones, ... Read More »

Honorary ChairmanHonorary Chairman

First Lady Michelle Obama

The arts and humanities define who we are as a people.  That is their power -- to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common.  To help us understand our history and imagine our future.  To give us hope in the moments of struggle and to bring us together when nothing else will.”

— First Lady Michelle Obama

About Our MembersAbout Our Members

The President’s Committee’s success in engaging the public and private sectors depends on the expertise and leadership of its private and federal members, who embody and represent the diverse elements of the cultural sector.

Read more about the President's Committee and read the Chairmen's Letter »

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