Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Enduring Gift of Al Hirschfeld

I received this press release yesterday, and in addition to the fact that I have a real soft spot for Al Hirschfeld (I learned to count the Ninas when I was certainly less than 10 -- and I remember waiting to see the newest one every Friday in the Times), I also met Mrs. Hirschfeld at the press junket for Busker Alley late last year. She is simply the nicest person -- and I say that for a few reasons. For one thing, she didn't at all wear her identity on her sleeve. Over lunch at a big table with lots of different people, she was highly inquisitive about me, and after about three or four questions I finally had to ask who she was, at which point my jaw fell open. What a charming and smart and very, very dear person she is. I'm thrilled with this announcement.

The New York City Department of Education
The Al Hirschfeld Foundation
The Al Hirschfeld Project

The New York City Department of Education and The Al Hirschfeld Foundation announced today the launch of The Al Hirschfeld Project for public school educators (K-12) that explores the arts through the lines and shapes of artist Al Hirschfeld. A reception will take place Thursday, March 13th at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th St.) to formally announce the curriculum.

The Al Hirschfeld Project has been created to allow a new generation of New Yorkers access to Hirschfeld’s work and discover how the use of line conveys the spirit of the arts. Through Hirschfeld’s drawings, teachers of dance, music, theater and visual arts will educate students about the performing arts over the last century. A new generation can “count the Ninas” as teachers weave the Blueprint-based resource into their classroom work.

The Hirschfeld curriculum was developed specifically to complement the Department of Education's Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, a set of clear standards outlining what students should know and be able to achieve in the four arts forms from pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. The program is an ongoing course of study leading students to develop skills and knowledge in the arts.

“I would like to thank the Al Hirschfeld Foundation for sharing his legacy with our students,” said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. “I look forward to seeing the many creative ways that our teachers use this new resource as a tool to engage students and enrich their understanding of the history of the performing arts in New York City.”

“We are so pleased the NYC Department of Education has embraced the curriculum for daily use this year,” said Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, President of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation. “The curriculum is like a botanical garden where the arts will grow and nourish the children of New York City.”

The Al Hirschfeld Foundation promotes interest in the theater and dramatic arts by supporting not for profit museums, libraries, theaters and similar cultural institutions. The Foundation will accomplish its purpose by making grants to such organizations, by mounting shows of Al Hirschfeld’s artworks at museums and other not for profit organizations and by donating or lending Al Hirschfeld’s artworks to such organizations for exhibit.

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