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Presented by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the award is the most prestigious honor conferred by the District of Columbia to individual artists, teachers, and arts organizations.


Washington, D.C., September 15, 2017 – Sitar Arts Center (“Sitar”), a nationally recognized leader in creative youth development serving more than 900 DC children and youth, received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Arts Education. The honor was bestowed at the historic Lincoln Theatre.  


Upon receiving the award, Sitar’s Executive Director Maureen Dwyer said, “The Mayor’s Arts Award is a validation of Sitar Arts Center’s commitment to the role of the arts in bringing people together and in building a stronger and more inclusive city. The need for places of belonging has never been more important as many of the children and families that Sitar Arts Center embraces each day feel more and more vulnerable and isolated. We stand with our families who share in our mission of creating community. They deserve this recognition and so much more.”


The award recognizes what Sitar Arts Center has long known to be true and what numerous studies confirm—access to the arts is linked to greater well-being in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. More than 80% of Sitar Arts Center’s school-aged students are from a low-income household—a reflection of Sitar’s pledge to help low-income families live and thrive in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. As an essential “cradle to career” community resource, the overarching goal of Sitar is to provide a vital safety-net for low-income families by offering dynamic programs during the vulnerable out-of-school-time hours that foster essential 21st century learning skills, closing the opportunity gap and preparing young people for success in college, the workforce, and beyond.


Since its founding nearly 20 years ago, Sitar Arts Center has bridged the opportunity gap for low-income children and youth in Washington, DC through high quality out-of-school time arts programs within a safe and nurturing community. Sitar’s rapid growth in enrollment, state-of-the-art facility, esteemed community partnerships, and impactful year-round program offerings play a vital role in ensuring that life-changing relationships are built across the economic, racial and cultural spectrum, propelling youth towards achievement and leading to stronger communities and a more vibrant city. 


This prestigious honor comes as Sitar opens its brand new 2,500 sq. ft. facility space to expand summer learning programs, create a Teen Center for DC youth, and provide greater out-of-school time opportunities. Sitar has expanded its impact considerably since first opening its doors in 2000, now supporting more than 900 students annually from every Ward in the District. For this award to be part of this milestone year makes it an even more profound acknowledgement of Sitar’s culture of striving for excellence in meeting real community needs.