The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts stands in full support of Barbara Hall's Nov. 29 commentary regarding the vast need for arts education in Philadelphia ("The art of education must include the arts"). It is vital to the future of our city that cultural institutions provide opportunities for children and young adults that are sadly no longer available in our schools.

The academy is committed to making a difference in this arena by offering high-quality programs for more than 7,000 students and teachers, and making them accessible regardless of economic means. At the academy museum, Philadelphia students participate in interactive gallery tours for all grade levels that allow students to see art as a way of understanding their own worlds. Our high school studio art program reaches out to students in artistically underserved Philadelphia schools, giving them access to painting and drawing classes in a studio setting. Workshops for art and classroom teachers integrate academy exhibition concepts into school curriculums. Summer FUNdamentals art camps offer creative experiences in the academy's galleries and art studios, as well as around the city.

In the coming years, the academy plans to increase its activities for students and teachers. With the study of art, creativity is unlocked, thinking is broadened, and lives are enriched.

Edward T. Lewis

President and Chief Executive Officer

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Philadelphia

» READ MORE: TLewis@pafa.org

Williams a plus

Mayor-elect Michael Nutter's most recent appointments included Amy Kurland as Philadelphia's new inspector general. Her lack of political baggage and very credible track record as a federal prosecutor makes it clear that the mayor's intention is to fill this slot with someone who is "no-nonsense" and practiced at taking down those who intentionally abuse the system for the their own enrichment.

We should not overlook the individual who took this office from a virtually unknown and certainly unused city agency and put aggressive investigative policies and recommendations into the headlines: Seth Williams.

Mayor Street appointed Williams months after the former assistant district attorney challenged Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham in 2005. He ran to a near-victory as a Democrat from outside the political machine.

Williams took over an agency where even the inspector general was forced to resign. He replaced some employees, brought in additional prosecutorial experience, retrained personnel, and within a short two-year span brought some headline-grabbing examples of costly reckless and flagrant manipulation and self-enrichment to the headlines.

This office is no longer the obscure and ineffective token it had become, and the appointment of someone with the track record of Amy Kurland only underscores the point that Mayor-elect Nutter expects more of the same.

Williams himself is approaching the point where he probably will start another run for the district attorney's office. His ideas on decentralized law enforcement and prosecution of gun dealers made headlines in the last race and, along with other fresh concepts, were ahead of the curve.

Jim Foster

Philadelphia

» READ MORE: cadillac81@verizon.net