And that’s why it is so critical that we preserve arts education in our schools. It is absolutely critical because we know how important it is for our children’s development. We all know. Every one of us who are here in this room will do whatever it takes to make sure that our own kids get access to sports and music and arts and recreation. So if it’s good enough for our kids, it’s good enough for all of our kids, right? (Applause.)
And that’s one of the reasons why we’ve worked so very hard, and it’s been a labor of love to make sure that the White House is a showcase for America’s rich cultural life. And we’ve worked to open our doors as often as possible to as many young people as we possibly can. We have hosted youth workshops on everything from modern dance to classical music to spoken word poetry and so much more. And we’re looking for another four years to do even more. (Applause.)
Because what we do know is that ultimately, arts education doesn’t just teach our kids valuable skills, it doesn’t just give them an important forum of self-expression and self-reflection, it also helps to shape their character. In so many ways it shapes who they are.
And I think that one of today’s programs -- Arts Corps -- really says it best in their motto. Their motto is, “Make art anyway.” Right, make art anyway. That’s what your programs are doing every single day. In spite of all the challenges and obstacles that our young people may face out there in the world -- because life is hard, right? I say that to Malia and Sasha every morning when they get up tired. I’m like, yes, life is hard! (Laughter.) You’ve still got to get up. You’ve got to get up. (Laughter.) But in spite of all of this, all of your fears and your doubts, you teach them art -- to make art anyway. To make art anyway.
You teach them that no matter what life throws their way, if they draw on their own talent and courage and creativity, if they are persistent and tenacious and bold -- bold, right? -- then they can truly make something extraordinary of their lives. Because that’s what we expect: nothing but extraordinary. You all can do this, right? That’s what we expect.
And that is why it is such a pleasure to honor you all here today -- for the work that you do, for inspiring our kids, for keeping their promise alive, loving them, supporting them. We thank you. We honor you, and we are so proud to support you as you continue your outstanding work. So don’t get tired. (Laughter.) Because I know it gets hard, but don’t get tired. The work you do is so critical, and we thank you.
And with that, it is now my pleasure to introduce one of the distinguished co-chairs of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities -– a man whose tremendous career in the arts and tremendous service to our country is such an inspiration to us all. And this is the time of year when you really get sick of me -- (laughter) -- because we spend a lot of time together. Please welcome George Stevens. (Applause.)
(The awards are presented.)
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my goodness. Well, see, this is why we do what we do. This is why we’re here -- because there are thousands of young people out there with this level of talent and passion and energy. And to think that we wouldn’t invest in this, that we wouldn’t find the resources to continue to allow these gifts to grow, that is why what you all do is just so amazing and so important and so necessary.
We are so proud to have you all here. You did an amazing job. We want to thank you. We want to thank Starr for that phenomenal speech. I’m glad I went before you. Yes. (Applause.)
And to all of our award recipients, to all of the young people who benefit from it, just understand this as young people -- this is what I say to all of the young people here -- your job is to pass it on, right? It’s not enough just to receive these gifts and blessings, but to understand that you are blessed and your job now is to pass it on, to find someone in your life that you are going to mentor, that you are going to pull up.
And whether it’s in the arts, or whether it’s academically, your job is to find the next you and hold them tight and make sure they get the same chances that you got, right?
Thank you so much for being here. It is always a joy to host these awards. I want to thank our committee. I want to thank all of our guests. Now, enjoy the reception. We’ve got good food. We’ve got good stuff in there. (Laughter.)
So thank you all. It’s been a wonderful afternoon, and we’ll see you again next year. (Applause.)"