Governor’s Awards Recognize Four Louisville Arts Leaders

  This year’s recipients of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts include four Louisville individuals or organizations.

The Governor’s Awards are the commonwealth’s highest honor in the arts. The annual awards recognize individuals and businesses who have made a significant impact on the Kentucky arts landscape. Recipients are nominated by the public and awards are given in nine categories. This year, 21C Museum Hotel, Actors Theatre of Louisville, River City Drum Corps founder and director Ed White and potter Laura Ross were all honored.

21C received the business category award. The Kentucky Arts Council recognizes 21C’s devotion to challenging, amusing and provocative art, as well as its role in bring more activity to the city’s downtown.

In giving the national award, the council notes Actors Theatre’s five decades of award-winning productions.

Ross (whose work is on display on 4th Street) won the artist award, and the council praises her “sense of design, composition, use of color and pattern,” which “has influenced many of her contemporaries throughout the southeastern U.S. and beyond.”

And, in giving White the award in the folk heritage category, the council says he “has influenced thousands of children, helping them to become recognized artists carrying on musical traditions in the community that date back to marching bands of Louisville’s segregated schools. While honoring these traditions, he has developed a proven pathway for kids in the West End of Louisville to earn college scholarships through drumming.”

Other recipients include Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen, who won the media award, which Courier-Journal music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett won last year. The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea won in the government category, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro won the community arts award.

All of the winners will be honored in a public ceremony in October.

Here is the full list of recipients, from the Arts Council:

Milner Award – Oakley and Eva Farris, of Covington, Ky., have had a major philanthropic impact on northern Kentucky and the arts for many years. The Farrises have given to schools, libraries, museums, civic organizations and arts organizations. Their gifts include a statue of President Abraham Lincoln to Northern Kentucky University, an amphitheater routinely used by acting classes at the school and a reading room in the campus library.

Artist Award – Laura Ross, of Prospect, Ky., has shared her work as a potter for nearly 30 years with the American public through exhibits and shows, as an educator and successful professional artist. Ross’ sense of design, composition, use of color and pattern has influenced many of her contemporaries throughout the southeastern U.S. and beyond. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. Ross has exhibited in dozens of galleries and juried exhibits throughout the country.

Business Award – The 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Ky., greatly improved the quality of the arts and was significant to the revitalization of Louisville’s downtown. The hotel’s presence became both an economic driver for the community and an oasis where art challenges and amuses patrons, stimulates conversation and provokes new ideas. Much more than a place to spend the night, 21c is an innovative union of genuine Southern hospitality, thoughtful design and culinary creativity — all anchored by world-class contemporary art by today’s emerging and internationally acclaimed artists.

Community Arts Award – In 1985, the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky., began to develop — and has since maintained — an environment in which people of all ages can discover the richness of bluegrass music. The museum is the world’s only facility dedicated to the history and preservation of bluegrass music, an important chapter in Kentucky’s musical songbook. Through its exhibits and displays, special events including a video oral history project and the overwhelmingly popular ROMP Festival that attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe, the museum ensures the living legacy of bluegrass music continues.

Education Award – Founded in 1938, Lexington Children’s Theatre (LCT) is a professional, nonprofit organization dedicated to the intellectual and cultural enrichment of young people. LCT creates imaginative, compelling, professional theater experiences and arts education for children and families. One of the oldest continuously operating theaters for youths in the country, LCT is the State Children’s Theatre of Kentucky. Annually, the theater provides theater arts education for as many as 150,000 children throughout the state.

Folk Heritage Award – Edward White, founder and director of the River City Drum Corps in Louisville, Ky., has influenced thousands of children, helping them to become recognized artists carrying on musical traditions in the community that date back to marching bands of Louisville’s segregated schools. While honoring these traditions, he has developed a proven pathway for kids in the West End of Louisville to earn college scholarships through drumming. For more than 30 years, White has dedicated himself to celebrating the musical traditions of the West End and making sure the youths of his area have a strong sense of pride in their unique Kentucky culture.

Government Award – The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea opened in 2003 to market Kentucky artists, artist products and Kentucky’s rich cultural life. The Center introduces visitors from around the world to works by more than 650 artists from more than 100 Kentucky counties. Artworks include craft, visual art, music, literary works, film and specialty food products — all Kentucky-made. The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea plays a critical role in representing the state’s arts and artists, providing important economic and technical support, and introducing them to new audiences.

Media Award – Tom Eblen has brought attention to the arts across the state through his work as the Lexington Herald-Leader’s metro columnist. Eblen frequently writes about how the arts intersect with life, culture and community. Through his column and blog, he frequently turns his eye to the arts — their significance in Kentucky’s towns and cities, their importance in education and the schools, and the richness they bring to Kentuckians’ lives, workplaces and neighborhoods.

National Award – Actors Theatre of Louisville has endeavored to be a center for community conversation since its incorporation in 1964. Actors Theatre was named the State Theatre of Kentucky in 1974 and strives to tell the stories that reflect the diversity of the Commonwealth and the human experience. Actors Theatre’s achievements and dedication to the production of new plays have resulted in the theatre receiving many prestigious awards, including being the second theatre to receive the Special Tony Award as an outstanding nonprofit resident theatre. The theater is preparing for its 50th anniversary season.

Gabe Bullard

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.

@gbullard

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