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Obama honors Brooklyn Academy of Music

O-BAM-a! Prez honors Fort Greene arts venue

Special delivery: Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, recieves the National Medal of Arts from President Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Monday.
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One of the borough’s biggest arts institutions was on the national stage earlier this week.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music received the National Medal of Arts during a White House ceremony presided over by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama July 28. The commander in chief had high praise for the 153-year-old venue and its fellow medal recipients.

“The moments you help create — moments of understanding or awe or joy or sorrow — they add texture to our lives,” Obama said. “They are not incidental to the American experience — they are central to it. They are essential to it.”

The award has been given out by the National Endowment for the Arts annually since 1984, honoring individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions to the arts. The citation accompanying the Brooklyn medal reads:

“For innovative contributions to the performing and visual arts. For over 150 years, BAM has showcased the works of both established visionaries and emerging artists who take risks and push boundaries.”

The day after all the pomp, a venue honcho was walking on air.

“I’m still floating,” said Joe Melillo, and executive producer at the arts complex. “One day you’re just doing your job, the next day you get invited to the White House.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019: Quotes from Joe Melillo added.
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