Capitol Rotunda Hosts Annual Arts Awards

Frankfort, KY – They're called the Governor's Awards in the Arts and there are nine of them. They honor individuals, businesses and organizations that make significant contributions to the arts in the commonwealth. Governor Beshear says the importance of the arts in education should never be underestimated. Both the Arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities have found that students who are highly engaged in the arts perform better in school and are more active in their communities.

Beshear says the arts can transform communities. Paducah's artist relocation program took 70 artists from 17 different states and rehabilitated a blighted, drug infested neighborhood.

And Beshear says an active arts community can be a boon to economic development. Our Cabinet for Economic Development says that one of the top ten questions they get from businesses considering relocating in Kentucky is this, what kind of arts amenities are available in this community. (Music Bridge)

The Artist Award recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts and this year's recipient is Vince DiMartino, professor of music at Centre College in Danville. I really thank all the high school bands and orchestras in the state that I was lucky enough to perform with, all over. We've had some wonderful times together. Traveled all over the country with some of these bands, talking about Kentucky and music in Kentucky.

John Timmons, who started the Louisville alternative record store ear-X-tacy in 1985, is this year's Business Award winner. I don't take it lightly. But let me see if I get this straight. You give a business award to somebody who started a business with a 500-dollar advance on their MasterCard and a record collection! And you give a business award to somebody who's still in the record business! (Music Bridge)

One of the primary things we're trying to do here now is to preserve our history and cultural arts, because their dying. They're becoming a thing of the past. That's Carol Ison of the Cowan Community Action Group in Whitesburg, winners of this year's Folk Heritage Award. The non-profit community service organization offers classes in old-time music, square dancing and storytelling. The Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave won this year's Community Arts Award. Julie Ann White of Owensboro is this year's Education Award recipient. The City of Covington won the Government Award, Charlie Hughes of Nicholasville won the Media Award. This year's National Award winner is Kentucky-born playwright Suzan-Lori Parks of Santa Monica, California. She is the first and only African-American female to win a Pulitzer Prize for her play on Broadway Topdog/Underdog. I knew I had to nominate her for this prestigious award and my students agreed.

That's Lundeana Thomas of the African-American Theatre program at University of Louisville who spoke for Parks, who was unable to attend. The highest honor went to Owsley Brown II of Louisville, who won the Milner Award for outstanding philanthropic contributions to the arts. Each of the honorees received a small, figurative sculpture carved by Louisville artist William Duffy.