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April 7th, 2008
Peggy Amsterdam and Karen Davis Selected to Receive Fleisher's 2008 Founder's Award

The Board of Directors of the Fleisher Art Memorial is pleased to announce that Fleisher’s 2008 Founder’s Award will be presented jointly to Peggy Amsterdam, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and Karen Davis, President and CEO of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia. The award will be presented in a special ceremony and dinner on Monday, April 7th at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, a community arts center offering a wide range of art education programs for students of all ages.

Together and individually, Peggy and Karen enrich Philadelphia's arts and culture community through their work every day, helping institutions, including the Fleisher Art Memorial, become even better resources for the residents of Greater Philadelphia. Peggy's and Karen's comprehensive — and harmonizing — achievements have resulted in a renaissance of enthusiasm for Philadelphia's arts and culture landscape. Today's wealth of opportunities for participation in the arts is a direct result of their commitment to our city, and together, they have set the stage for a bright and creative future.

Matthew Braun, Executive Director of the Fleisher Art Memorial, noted that “Peggy and Karen and their respective organizations have led the way in a radical rejuvenation of the arts scene in Philadelphia. Whether connecting businesses to the arts, or helping nonprofit art groups improve their infrastructure and resources, both of these dynamic leaders are inspirations to all of us in the field, and to the entire City. We are honored to recognize their accomplishments with this year’s Founder’s Award.”

Fleisher’s Founder’s Award is presented each year to individuals who are deeply committed to supporting arts and culture in the Philadelphia region. It is awarded in memory of Samuel S. Fleisher, a man devoted to creating accessible cultural opportunities for all people. He founded the Graphic Sketch Club (now renamed the Fleisher Art Memorial) in 1898 in order to provide opportunities for South Philadelphia residents, especially those who worked in his textile mills, to make and study art.

Past recipients of the Founder’s Award include: Anne d’Harnoncourt (2007), James Nelson Kise, James Bennett Straw and David A. Schultz (2006), Frank and Betts Louchheim (2005), Suzanne Fleisher Roberts (2004), Luther W. Brady, Jr. (2003), Thora Jacobson (2002), Happy Fernandez (2001), Linda Lee Alter (2000), Edward Rendell (1999), Marian Locks (1998), Joseph Rishel (1997), Dorothy R. B. Manou and Melinda Whiting (1996), Ella King Torrey (1995), Helen W. Drutt English (1994), Edna Andrade and William Parshall (1993). Penny Balkin Bach and Jody Pinto (1992), Judith Tannenbaum (1991), and Frank Gasparro (1990).

The 2008 Founder’s Award will be presented during a festive gathering on Monday, April 7th. The evening will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m., and dinner at 7:00. With approximately 175 guests planning to attend, the 2008 event promises to be a grand celebration of Fleisher’s impact on the community and the significant contributions Peggy Amsterdam and Karen Davis have made to Philadelphia’s cultural life. Proceeds from the event will help support Fleisher’s mission to make art accessible to all, regardless of age, ability, or financial means. The event has been sponsored by numerous individuals and corporations including: Bank of America, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Independence Blue Cross, Independence Foundation, PECO, The Philadelphia Foundation, Sage Communications, SCA Americas, and Tierney Communications

Now celebrating its 110th anniversary, the Fleisher Art Memorial honors Samuel Fleisher’s legacy to “invite the world to come and learn art” through tuition-free art classes, exhibitions, and artist residencies offered at local schools and social service agencies through its Community Partnerships in the Arts program. In recent years, annual registration for classes taught at Fleisher is close to 4,000, including over 900 youth who attend its Saturday program. Over 500 youth learn through artist residencies at their schools, and each year Fleisher hosts nearly 8,000 visitors at exhibitions and cultural events.

Karen Davis

As president and chief executive officer of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, Karen B. Davis is responsible for all day-to-day operations and management of Council staff, policy, and programs. Her responsibilities include the development and implementation of new programs and services, creation of an annual diversified fundraising strategy, public relations campaign and strategic planning for the organization. She also manages the Council’s only annual fundraising event – the prestigious Arts & Business Council Awards Luncheon.

Karen oversees the Council’s affiliation with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) and works to ensure that mutual goals and objectives are accomplished. In addition, she is the designated spokesperson for the Council and regularly interfaces with the cultural community on behalf of GPCC.

Karen joined the Council during its first full year of operation in 1982 and was instrumental in the development of the Arts & Business Council concept during its early years. In 1987, Karen was appointed executive director, and in 2003, president and CEO. She is credited with the development and implementation of 15 new Council programs and services for arts and cultural organizations during her tenure. The Council was honored with the first and only Governor’s Award for “Leadership & Service to the Arts in Pennsylvania” in 1998.

Karen has been a professional arts manager for more than thirty-five years both in Philadelphia and New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to joining the Arts & Business Council, Karen was the executive director of a Philadelphia dance company, awarded a fellowship position with the National Endowment for the Arts, and was the director of performing arts and special events for the New Orleans Department of Recreation. Her career in the arts began as a professional lighting designer for several theaters in Boston and New Orleans and for WQED Television in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Karen currently serves on the Board of the Multi-Cultural Affairs Council of the Greater Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and on the Advisory Board of the Moore College of Arts Locks Career Center. She has also served on the boards of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania (a statewide arts advocacy organization), and the national Arts & Business Council Inc.Ò in New York City. In addition to being a founding member of the City of Philadelphia’s Cultural Fund (1990), Karen was an appointed member of Mayor Rendell’s Cultural Advisory Council for the eight years of his leadership. Karen had the distinguished honor of being one of 12 community leaders to serve on the John S. and James A. Knight Foundation Community Advisory Board at its inception. In 2001, Karen was honored as one of the region’s “Women of Distinction” by the Philadelphia Business Journal. In April 2006, Karen was awarded the “Distinguished Service” award from the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. In 2007, Karen was honored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown as a “2007 Woman Making A Difference.” InterAct Theatre Company also honored Karen with its “Arts In Community Leadership” award.

Karen studied theatrical lighting design at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her husband, Fred Stuart, in Philadelphia.

Peggy Amsterdam

Peggy Amsterdam is President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. The Cultural Alliance is the region’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the cultural sector, serving as a vital resource to its over 300 nonprofit member organizations as well as the broader cultural community. Under her direction, the Cultural Alliance has launched a successful sector-wide marketing campaign, highlighted by the newly redesigned events calendar and popular FunSavers™ half-price ticket program. In addition the Cultural Alliance continues to be at the forefront of the region’s cultural sector advocacy efforts and recently produced and/or released three highly-credible and content-rich reports on the region's cultural sector in Portfolio, Arts and Culture in the Metropolis, and a soon-to-be-published economic impact study, based on local findings from Americans for the Arts' Arts & Economic Prosperity III. The research has provided an indispensable tool to arts managers and policymakers in understanding and quantifying culture's impact on the community.

In her free time, Amsterdam is a member of the Board of Managers of the Philadelphia Foundation; the executive committee of the Greater Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; she is a member of the Forum of Executive Women and the International Women’s Forum.

She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and on the steering committee of the National Arts Education Partnership. Amsterdam formerly served as Governor Tom Carper’s Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts from 1993- 2000 and was a founding member of the Delaware Arts Stabilization Fund.

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