Governor’s Awards Recognize Outstanding Achievement in the Arts
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Arts Council announces the 2006 recipients of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, to be honored by Governor Ernie Fletcher and First Lady Glenna Fletcher at a public ceremony and celebration on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
“The individuals and organizations selected for these awards have put Kentucky in the nation’s spotlight with their commitment to the arts,” said Governor Fletcher. “They exemplify our unique and diverse cultural heritage and make us all proud to be Kentuckians.”
The Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients are selected annually in nine different categories, with the Milner Award being the most prestigious and the first established by the Arts Council (then Kentucky Arts Commission) in 1978. The Milner Award is named after the late B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader who served on the Kentucky Arts Commission under four consecutive Governors.
The 2006 recipient of the Milner Award, which recognizes outstanding individual commitment to the arts and their role in the economy, community and culture of Kentucky, is J. Alexander Speer of Louisville. Retired from a 40-year career at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Speer has been heralded as one of the great statesmen of American Arts.
The National Award for a Kentuckian who has achieved national acclaim for artistic achievement honors the celebrated stage, television and screen actress Patricia Neal, who received an Oscar for her performance in Hud, co-starring with Paul Newman.
The Artist Award honoring lifetime achievement in the arts will go to LaVon Van Williams, Jr., a fifth-generation woodcarver and folk artist who lives and works in Lexington.
Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare in Greater Louisville, will receive the Business Award for outstanding support of the arts through the determined acquisition and exhibition of visual arts in public spaces of its healthcare facilities.
The Kentucky Book Fair will receive the Community Arts Award, for its significant contributions to both the literary community and the public and school libraries in Kentucky.
The Education Award recognizes the Russell Orchestra, an arts program of the Russell Independent Schools for its significant contributions to the arts in education.
Father and daughter team, Lewis and Donna Lamb of Lancaster, will receive the Folk Heritage Award for their contributions to promoting and perpetuating Kentucky’s unique artistic traditions.
The Government Award recipient is the Pike County Extension for Fine Arts, a cooperative program of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, College of Fine Arts and the Pike County District Board of Cooperative Extension. It is the nation’s first Cooperative Extension Program focusing on the fine arts.
Morehead State Public Radio, producing high quality news, music and entertainment programming focused on preserving and promoting the area’s cultural heritage will receive this year’s Media Award for its notable commitment to bring the arts to the attention of the public.
The Kentucky Arts Council administers the Governor’s Awards in the Arts selection process. Nominations are annually solicited from the public, reviewed by a selection committee and presented to the Governor for final approval. Nominations for the 2007 awards will be accepted in September 2007. For more information about the Kentucky Arts Council or the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, go to www.artscouncil.ky.gov.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Background information for 2006 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients is listed below.
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The Kentucky Arts Council is a state agency in the Commerce Cabinet that invests in programs that develop vibrant communities, provide lifelong education in the arts and support arts participation. Every $1 in grant funds awarded by the Kentucky Arts Council helps grantees secure $15 in earned income and matching funds from individuals, philanthropic sources and other levels of government. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
2006 Governor’s Awards in the Arts
J. Alexander (Sandy) Speer
Heralded as “one of the great statesmen of the American arts,” Sandy Speer led the Actors Theatre of Louisville from its original home in a converted railway station to its present operations in a multi-million dollar theatre internationally acclaimed for artistic excellence. During his 40-year career, the recently retired Executive Director was one of the key architects of the regional professional theatre movement and a major force in establishing the League of Resident Theatres. He led change in arts management nationwide through his involvement with Theatre Advisory Council of the National Corporate Theatre Fund and the American Theatre Exchange Initiative. In Kentucky, he has been a highly respected community leader, instrumental in the Louisville Main Street revitalization of the ‘70s, chairman of the Louisville Arts and Cultural Attractions Council and an executive committee member of the regional Cultural Blueprint for the Louisville metropolitan area.
New York, NY
Born in Packard, Kentucky in Whitley County, Patricia Neal is the only Kentucky native to win an Oscar for acting in a leading role. The celebrated actress won the Academy Award for her performance as “Alma” in Hud, co-starring Paul Newman. She also received a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, another Oscar nomination and three Emmy nominations for her film, television and theatre work. At the height of her career, Patricia Neal was struck by three massive strokes. Her recovery was remarkable and she still works with stroke victims throughout the world, devoting much of her time to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. The University Press of Kentucky has recently released a biography, “Patricia Neal – An Unquiet Life” by Stephen Michael Shearer.
LaVon Van Williams, Jr.
A fifth-generation woodcarver and folk artist who lives in Lexington, LaVon Williams is widely acclaimed for his low-relief figurative sculptures that are rhythmically charged to combine both funk and grace. The former college and professional basketball player has also served as a teacher and mentor in artist residency programs in Kentucky and through workshops in both gallery and university environments. His work has been widely exhibited at the Outsider Art Fair, New York; the National Black Fine Arts Exposition, Chicago; the Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, Kentucky; the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio and the Keny Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. His carvings have been acquired by prominent private collectors throughout the nation.
Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare
One of the nation’s best-known regional health care networks, Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare has demonstrated a clear understanding of the healing power of the arts. With 70 health care facilities and 1,900 patient beds, it has been a leader in innovation with a patient focused vision. A testament to this vision was demonstrated when the network’s newest facility, Jewish Hospital Medical Center South in Shepherdsville, worked closely with the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft to provide original artwork for public spaces. Participating artists drew inspiration from nearby Bernheim Forest providing a calming and healing force, valued as a very important part of the care environment. The original vision for Jewish Hospital Medical Center East was to design and build a ‘next generation’ outpatient care facility that would become the standard bearer for high-tech, patient focused care. To help facilitate this, Jewish Hospital Medial Center East incorporated the healing properties of art, especially Kentucky glass art, into its overall design. The acquisition and exhibition of art at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare facilities offers enlightenment and encouragement to patients, family, friends and staff as they receive or give care or accompany loved ones.
Community Arts Award
Kentucky Book Fair
Founded in 1981 as a charitable non-profit, annual book fair for readers of all ages in Kentucky, the fair has successfully met its three founding goals of honoring the writing profession with a public festival, providing a forum for accomplished authors from Kentucky and the nation to meet their reading public, and raising money through the sale of books to give grants to school and public libraries throughout Kentucky. The Kentucky Book Fair, staged annually in November at the Frankfort Convention Center, has over 150 authors attending to autograph copies of their latest books, with attendance between 4,000 and 5,000 patrons. A force for literacy in Kentucky, the Kentucky Book Fair has granted over a quarter million dollars to public and school libraries, over its 25-year history.
The Russell Orchestra
The Russell Orchestra, which began in 2001 and now has over 300 participants, is uniquely composed of primary, middle and high school students and faculty of Russell Independent Schools. The Orchestra has received numerous awards and recognition and has performed at a wide range of community events and venues including memorials, restaurants, businesses, churches, school functions and area nursing homes. The orchestra also received master classes and performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The Russell Orchestra is a school arts program that is changing the school and the community and provides students with an unusual and exciting opportunity to develop lifelong skills and appreciation of the arts.
Folk Heritage Award
Lewis and Donna Lamb
The father and daughter team of traditional artists from Lancaster, Kentucky, rank among the nation’s best-known practitioners of the preservation and promotion of authentic old-time Appalachian traditional music. Lewis is regarded as a master fiddler, humorist and wood carver, while Donna is a superb back-up guitarist, singer and clog-dancer, who also executes beautiful instrument inlay work. As teachers, they have taught untold numbers of individuals young and old to play traditional music and in so doing have played a major role in perpetuating interest in Kentucky’s music traditions. Most significantly they have labored long in the musical genre considered to be the most challenging – playing for dancers. The Lambs have provided Appalachian dance music for the Berea College Country Dancers, with whom they have toured internationally. They have recorded several albums including two volumes of Dances from Appalachia.
Pike County Extension for Fine Arts
A cooperative program of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and College of Fine Arts and the Pike County District Board of Cooperative Extension, this innovative program is the nation’s first Cooperative Extension Service Program focusing on the fine arts. Designed to strengthen the arts in rural communities by addressing the quality of life through the arts, the program successfully incorporates an aggressive arts marketing plan, a collaborative program to assist Pike County schools in arts implementation across the curriculum as well as a detailed development strategy to organize and advance the arts throughout Pike County. Stephanie Richards, Pike County Extension Agent for Fine Arts maintains active partnerships and collaborations with the Pike County Artisan Center, Artists Collaborative Theatre, the Pikeville Medical Center, Pike County Homeless Shelter, local media and area churches.
Morehead State Public Radio WMKY-FM/WOCS-FM
Morehead State Public Radio provides high quality news, music and entertainment programming focused on preserving and promoting the area’s cultural heritage through the arts. Locally produced programs include Americana Crossroads Live, Americana Crossroads, A Time for Tales, Bluegrass Diversion, Pickin’ Parlour, Bluegrass Sunday, Nothin’ but the Blues, Tunes and Tales, and Front Page which feature regional authors, musicians, song writers, storytellers and feature stories about local artists and arts events. Americana Crossroads Live is a free concert series appropriate for the entire family, presenting local, national and internationally known musicians and entertainers. Morehead State Public Radio broadcasts 24 hours a day from the campus of Morehead State University, serving more than 40 counties in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. WMKY (90.3 FM) serves as the flagship station for the MSPR network, which includes WOCS (88.3 FM) in Booneville and a translator station in Inez.