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FIAF’s Youth Outreach Program brings a French touch to NYC public school art programs

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“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” –Pablo Picasso

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for students at M.S. 331 in the Bronx, it’s worth so much more.

The FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française) launched a Youth Outreach program in 2013 after recent budget cuts in New York City public schools left a void where arts education used to be. The program, sponsored by Louis Vuitton, brings accomplished French artists to teach some of the city’s most under-served students about art and culture.


French photographer Jean-Christian Bouracart held workshops with students who took photos of their friends, families and daily routines, learning a lot about art and themselves in the process.

After Bouracart’s visit to the Bronx, the FIAF displayed the students’ photos in a gallery at their Madison Avenue home.

“I would say that the most amazing part is really when you feel like a kid is getting it, photographing things he or she wouldn’t have thought of photographing before,”

Bouracart said of the unique program.

In the Fall of 2013, the Youth Outreach program brought French sculptor Sydney Albertini to P.S. 46M in Harlem for an interactive workshop that culminated with an exhibit in the FIAF gallery featuring select works from the students. In September of this year, French actress and stage director Laura Lassie visited M.S. 331 in the Bronx to begin a weekly theatrical enrichment program for the duration of the school year. With her guidance, the students have been working on a production of Ubi Roi by French author Alfred Jarry that will end with a final performance at the FIAF in April of 2016.

The FIAF is hoping for more support that would allow them to expand the program into a yearlong initiative in different schools.

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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