Since 1979, ArtsConnection has been committed to making the arts an essential part of young people’s education in New York City. The organization connects artists with children, families, and schools in creative partnerships for teaching and learning, motivating over 50,000 students a year whether in-school or out-of-school, on stage, or as audience members to learn and develop creativity, curiosity, and self-confidence. Time Warner is a proud supporter of ArtsConnection, and attended its annual Spring Benefit atop the Tribeca Rooftop Friday night.

Time Warner works with ArtsConnection to fund programs that enrich the lives of teens in New York City through exposure to the arts. ArtConnection’s after-school program, Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC), gives teens the opportunity to explore New York City’s art and culture by attending cutting-edge theater, dance, and music performances; visiting artist studios, galleries, and museums; learning the art of discussion and critical writing, and much more. The organization also offers teens $5 tickets to dance, music, theater, film, and spoken word performances, as well as museums, making hundreds of cultural events and institutions accessible to New York City’s youth.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler and his wife, Lisa, chairwoman of the ArtsConnection board, as well as Emily and Harold Ford, Jr. co-chaired the benefit, and award-winning broadcast journalist, Soledad O’Brien, served as the evening’s host. Hip-hop pioneer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Popular Community Bank’s Chief Operating Officer, Manuel Chinea, were the Artistic Honoree and Corporate Honoree of the evening, respectively. Simmons was honored for his philanthropic efforts to empower at-risk youth through education, the arts, social engagement, and promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations. Chinea was recognized for his work as an active member and officer of several marketing, credit, and treasury management and not-for-profit organizations.

The benefit also featured a music and puppetry performance by students from Brooklyn’s Public School 130.

To learn more about ArtsConnection, visit

Pictured above: Newtown, NY, high school senior David Morales presented Soledad O’Brien with his original work at the ArtsConnection benefit gala. (Source: @Soledad_OBrien /Twitter)