Helen Eaton Honored with Arts Education Award

Americans for the Arts presents our Annual Leadership Awards as part of the 2020 virtual convening of the Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference. These awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

Helen Eaton has served as Settlement Music School’s CEO since 2010. One of the largest community schools of the arts in the country, Settlement has a 112-year history of arts education without barriers, providing over $2.6 million in financial aid every year to its students. In Helen’s nearly 10-year tenure, she has grown programming, diversified funding sources, strengthened the balance sheet, and championed partnerships, both locally and nationally. Since 2012, when she and other music education providers launched the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth collaborative, the focus on service to music students and educators alike across Philadelphia has resulted in expanded collaborations and shared professional development for in-school and out-of-school time teachers. This collaborative also gave rise to the region-wide PMAY Artists’ Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which supports students from underrepresented communities in becoming professional classical musicians.

Helen’s work at Settlement has been featured in Harvard Business Review and will be featured as a case study in Scott Anthony’s upcoming book Eat, Sleep, Innovate: How to Make Creativity an Everyday Habit Inside Your Organization, published by Harvard Business Review Press—both for her work in building systems of innovation at a legacy institution. In 2016 she was named one of the Top 30 Innovators by Musical America Worldwide. Prior to joining Settlement, Helen was President of Chicago Children’s Choir and Dean of Programs at the Merit School of Music. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. 

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