NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto welcomed over 200 guests this morning at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new permanent site of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), the public arts high school founded by Tony Bennett in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and located in Tony's hometown of Astoria, Queens. The morning celebration featured speeches by FSSA founders Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto, Nancy Sinatra, Chancellor of Schools Joel Klein, School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and FSSA Principal Donna Finn. Immediately following the remarks guests were treated to the unveiling of the temporary street renaming of 35th street and 35th avenue to "Tony Bennett Plaza" to commemorate the occasion. Parents and students crowded the street to view the proceedings at the new FSSA building, which opened its doors to students on September 9th.
USA Today recently referred to Tony Bennett as an, "Eloquent advocate for public schools in general and arts education specifically," and the New York Times recently noted of FSSA, "The sleek new five-story building, designed by the prominent Polshek Partnership architecture firm, has state-of-the-art classrooms, a media center with film editing equipment, two dance studios and music studios with a recording booth." The structure also houses a state-of-the-art 800 seat theatre, Tony Bennett Concert Hall, and a roof garden with a permanent stage, both of which will be available for public and school related events.
Susan and Tony first conceptualized FSSA 10 years ago as a groundbreaking, unique partnership between the public and private sectors devoted to making superior academic and arts education accessible to all students. The public school, which was established at a temporary location in 2001, offers a rigorous academic curriculum combined with an extensive pre-conservatory arts studio program. Since its inception FSSA has consistently boasted one of the highest graduation rates in the city, with over 95% of its graduates continuing on to college and arts conservatories like The Julliard School and Columbia University.
Later this evening Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto will host the third annual Exploring The Arts (ETA) benefit gala to raise funds to support arts education in public schools. The event will be held at Cipriani Wall Street and will feature Nathan Lane as emcee with performances by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang. Guests expected to attend include Bruce and Emma Willis, Quincy Jones, Regis and Joy Philbin, Nancy Sinatra, Rachael Ray and John Cusimano, Governor Mario and Matilda Cuomo and Billy Jean King. The 2009 Exploring the Arts Benefit Gala will honor philanthropist John Kluge, who celebrates his 95th birthday this evening and has been a long-time supporter of ETA's mission.
About Exploring the Arts:
Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto founded Exploring the Arts (ETA), a non-profit organization to strengthen the role of arts education in public schools. They have raised millions of dollars to date and have fostered a unique partnership between the public and private sectors. For more information on ETA and FSSA please visit www.exploringthearts.org.
SOURCE Exploring the Arts