Volume 23, Number 5 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 11 - 17, 2010
Festival doles out inaugural award
Downtown Arts founder and director Ryan Gilliam kicked off the citywide festival with a presentation of its very first “Local Hero” award. Lisa Kaplan, Chief of Staff for New York City District 2 Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, and DTA Board President Bruce Morrison were named the 2010 honorees in recognition of their accomplishments in Downtown Manhattan and their longstanding advocacy of young people.
“In a world where it’s easy to leave the problem of teens to be solved by someone else…it’s a great joy to find people who will extend themselves towards our younger brothers and sisters with generosity and faith in their capacity,” Gilliam said.
Lisa Kaplan worked to get community members involved in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area and later became the Executive Director of the Pueblo Nuevo Housing Development Association, which developed new low-income housing and preserved tenement buildings in Lower Manhattan.
Kaplan praised the June 5 citywide Festival for “making sure that young people understand their own creative potential.” As a Downtown Manhattan resident and community activist for 35 years, Kaplan looks forward to DTA moving into its new location at 70 E. 4th Street. “The facility will enhance the diversity of neighborhood, with all its cultural institutions, housing organizations and businesses that make up this rich fabric,” she said. Kaplan also served on Community Board 3 for three decades.
Morrison is a Deutsche Bank consultant and has served as the board president of DTA for 3 years, for which he has been fundraising at the grassroots and corporate levels. A stalwart supporter of the arts, Morrison says that the arts groups participating at the festival channels youths’ creativity in a productive way and “gives them less free time to get into trouble.”
Morrison recalls one particular teen blossoming after three years of practice on the DTA stage. “He’ll never be a superstar, but you could just see the confidence build onstage but also offstage,” said Morrison, “and that’s what counts.”