Christian Thomas Lee
In 1996 Christian Thomas Lee established the Arts In Schools program to directly benefit and inspire children in rural and inner city schools. Through this unique and one-of-a-kind program, Christian has reached thousands of children across the United States by bringing original works of art into the classroom for children to see, study, and even hold in their hands. These original works of art include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Peter Carl Faberge, Giovanni Battista Pasqualini, and many others, acquired by Christian, from the great auction houses of the world including: Sotheby's New York, London and Wilnitsky Fine Art, Vienna, Austria.
This privately owned collection of fine art is believed to be the only collection of original, museum quality art collected and used solely for the inspirational benefit of children in America's classrooms. In recent years, school districts all over the United States have experienced an increasing shortage in available funding, as the student population continues to dramatically increase, thereby stressing school budgets. Superintendents and school boards, in an attempt to maintain balanced budgets and provide the best education for America's children have been forced to make painful cuts. More often than not, these cuts are in the areas of the fine arts.
As a result, many schools today, and especially rural and poorer inner city schools, have no fine arts programs. Christian Thomas Lee, as a private collector of art, responded to this community need and began making his remarkable personal art collection available to schools. To date, it is estimated over 50,000 school aged children across America have experienced the joy and the reward of the fine arts through Art In Schools. Art In Schools is not a 'show-and-tell' approach to art. Rather, it is an intensive effort with the art collection visiting a single school for up to one week. During that time, Christian teaches upwards to 25 art master classes to groups of no more than 25 children. These small size groups allow the children to be close to the works of art and even handle and touch certain pieces.
During the week Christian is teaching art master classes, teachers in the school will borrow certain pieces from the visiting collection and use them in their own classrooms as a teaching school. As an example, many teachers have borrowed the royal and presidential documents and used them to teach history. The collection is also used to demonstrate to children the value of staying in school, working hard and not becoming involved in drugs. By demonstrating firsthand the creativity of some of the greatest artists in human history, Christian has inspired thousands of children to awaken their own creative abilities and to express those abilities in a constructive way.
Due to Art In Schools, dozens of schools have been reintroducing fine arts back into the school curriculum. In most cases, the schools pay only the travel costs included in the project. No school is ever turned away for lack of funding, and Christian does not accept donations for his work.
In the last ten years, it is estimated that Art In Schools has reached upwards of 50,000 children between first and twelfth grade from schools in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Washington DC, California, Washington, Arizona, and Texas.