Ms. Harris to Receive Award at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego

Thursday, June 16, 2011

press releaseContact:
Catherine Brandt

WASHINGTON, DC — Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, announced today that it is presenting its 2011 American Express Emerging Leader Award to Angela Harris, founder and executive director of Dance Canvas, Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit that presents professional dance performances showcasing emerging choreographers.  Given annually since 2006 and sponsored in 2011 and 2012 by American Express, the award honors exceptional young arts professionals who demonstrate exemplary leadership, innovative thinking and a commitment to advancing the arts in their local, state or national communities. Recipients of the Award are selected by a panel of outside experts. Ms. Harris will receive the American Express Emerging Leader Award on June 16 at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego.

After witnessing the difficult path and lack of professional opportunities for young choreographers, Ms. Harris conceived and founded Dance Canvas Inc. in 2008 to create relatable, professional dance experiences and develop new dance patrons in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.  Thanks to Ms. Harris’ leadership and perseverance, Dance Canvas, Inc. has made remarkable strides in its three years of operation, presenting world premiere choreography from 27 emerging choreographers, showcasing more than 150 professional dancers, introducing over 500 children and teens to dance through its DC NEXT youth program curriculum and performing for more than 10,000 people. During this time, Ms. Harris also spearheaded the formation of two development programs for teens and college-age students that provide classes in leadership, team building, resume writing, choreography and dance training. Ms. Harris is a member of Emerging Arts Leaders of Atlanta, and has been an “Emerging Leader” scholarship recipient from Americans for the Arts in 2006, 2008 and 2010. 

“What Ms. Harris has accomplished in just three years, is nothing short of remarkable,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Her extraordinary work and passion to support the arts leaders of tomorrow exemplifies what it means to be an Emerging Leader.”

“I join Bob Lynch and the board and staff of Americans for the Arts in congratulating Angela Harris on her receipt of this award," said Timothy J. McClimon, President, American Express Foundation.  “American Express is pleased to be sponsoring the Emerging Leaders Award and through it to be playing a role in nurturing the next generation of leadership in the arts. We applaud the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to excellence that Angela brings to her work and salute her for helping to make greater Atlanta a more vibrant and vital community for artists, audiences and young people.”  

Through its Emerging Leaders Network, Americans for the Arts works to identify and cultivate the next generation of leaders in the arts and arts education. Founded in 1999, the Network and its programs offer a rich range of professional development, peer-to-peer networking and technical assistance services designed to meet the unique needs of arts management professionals who are either new to the field (less than five years of experience) or age 35 or younger. Currently, the Network has more than 4,450 members in 49 out of the 50 states in the country, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

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One of American Express' three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit sector, American Express is making grants focused on preparing high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century.

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