More than 500 arts supporters, advocates, business leaders and elected officials attended the annual Governor’s Arts Awards last night, held for the first time at the Mesa Arts Center. The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor.
Six winners were honored out of more than 80 individuals, artists, businesses, arts education programs and community programs from communities around the state that had been nominated for the 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards. BMO Harris Bank took the honors in the “Business” category, and local nonprofit Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children won in the “Arts in Education, Organization” category. Robert Benson, of Peoria, won the “Arts in Education, Individual Award. Anni Beach, of Chandler, earned the “Individual Award.”
The “Community” award went to the University of Arizona Poetry Center, in Tucson. And Tucson artist and performance art pioneer Daniel Buckley was named Artist of the Year.
Each honoree received specially created awards by Arizona artists including: Steve Bunyard, Phoenix, procelaneous clay; Monica Aissa Martinez, Phoenix, limited edition lithograph; Cindy Schnackel, Phoenix, acrylic on canvas; Rand Carlson, Tucson, recycle tin on wood; Don Carter, Tucson, acrylic; Paul Anders-Stout, Tucson, blown glass; and Thomas McKee, Scottsdale, three-dimensional mixed media.
The 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards honorees are:
ARTIST: Daniel Buckley (Tucson) spent 22 years with the Tucson Citizen as a music and culture writer, on the editorial board and created its web-based multimedia division while building a reputation as an authority on classical and world music, mariachi, Native American music and southwestern cultural expressions. After the paper closed, he started a documentary film series, Cine Plaza, at the Fox Theatre, an oral history series focusing on the political and social evolution of Tucson’s Mexican-American population. A pioneer of performance art in Tucson, he currently is developing documentary works for the Arizona Historical Society and he is working on a new project of large-scale desert landscape photography.
INDIVIDUAL: Anni Beach (Chandler) spreads her gospel of commUNITY (her spelling) through rhythm and melody across Arizona using the Jam Pak Neighborhood Jam as the vehicle. It began in 1994 when two little boys knocked on her door near the elementary school where she was a substitute teacher. They wanted to sing and play more music. Over the past 20 years, literally hundreds of children have done the same, learning music, self-awareness and self-discipline through creativity and expression. In the early days, the children built instruments called “canjos”: a single-string fretted instrument with a soda can. The band grew, playing and singing for house concerts, nursing homes and community activities. Today, with 30 members and dozens of alums, the group is a diverse mix that performs around the state.
COMMUNITY: University of Arizona Poetry Center (Tucson) is a significant national center for the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry and literature. Dedicated in 1960 by Robert Frost and located in one of three landmark buildings for poetry in the U.S., the Poetry Center’s world-renowned library of contemporary poetry and diversity of literary programs serve more than 30,000 people year. The Poetry Center also is a leader in developing poetry curricula in Arizona and provides online resources for teachers and parents. More than 1,000 poets and writers have been presented to southern Arizona audiences through the Poetry Center including the state’s new Poet Laureate, Alberto Rios.
ARTS IN EDUCATION – INDIVIDUAL: Dr. Robert Benson (Peoria) has been a consistent advocate for both the arts and arts education throughout his career. From the beginning of his education career, he established a pattern of inspiring others by both modeling individual excellence and encouraging others to pursue excellence through the arts. Robert has built and fostered conversations connecting arts and the common core state standards, now known as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. He has aimed to strengthen and build arts integration within the Peoria Unified School District while supporting outreach into other school districts, and has provided leadership within the community of district level arts directors in schools across the Phoenix metropolitan area.
ARTS IN EDUCATION – ORGANIZATION: Rosie’s House: A Musical Academy for Children (Phoenix) provides free music education to low-income children. During 2013, Rosie’s House served 400 disadvantaged students and presented 56 events, attracting audiences that totaled nearly 4,600 students, families and community supporters. Accredited by the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Rosie’s House is one of the largest free afterschool music programs in the country. Rosie’s House provides instruction, a loaned instrument, curriculum and performance opportunities, and teaches piano, strings and winds as well as offering choir and mariachi training ensembles. In the past three years, 97 percent of students graduating from Rosie’s House enrolled in college.
BUSINESS: BMO Harris Bank (Phoenix), in the Phoenix Area since 1965 when it began as Thunderbird Bank, focuses its giving to unique programs in the arts. For example, since 2008 BMO has been the title corporate sponsor for the Phoenix Art Museum Circle’s Speaker Program, contributing $120,000 over the last five years. Its generous contributions and involvement extend to additional organizations in Phoenix and Tucson, including Ballet Arizona, the Phoenix Symphony and the Tucson Museum of Art. The bank’s commitment to the development of arts & culture in Arizona includes a focused plan for a broad range of support for both visual and presenting arts organizations in Tucson and Phoenix over the last 10 years.
John P. and Helen S. Schaefer, whose multi-faceted legacy spans arts, culture and education, received the 9th annual Shelley Award. John Schaefer is president emeritus of the University of Arizona, a conservationist and avid birdwatcher who helped organize the Tucson Audubon Society and found the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. Also a skilled photographer, he and Ansel Adams founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. Helen Schafer is the former chair of the U of A College of Humanities Advisory Board and a longtime member of the Poetry Center Development Committee. The Helen P. Schaefer Building today is home to the Arizona Poetry Center, which houses one of the nation’s most exceptional library collections of contemporary poetry and is dedicated to the advancement and celebration of poetry.
APS was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards. Other sponsors for the event included Audio-Visual and Print Sponsor: SRP; Nominees Sponsor: Resolution Copper Mining; Artists Award Sponsor: The Arizona Lottery.