On Tuesday, Mar. 1, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History (WVDACH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts sponsored the Governor’s Arts Awards at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. During the awards ceremony, 11 Governor’s Arts Awards and 10 Legislative Leadership Awards in the Arts were presented. Jim Allder, Band Director at Greenbrier East High School, was named to be the Individual winner in the Arts in Education award category. The Arts in Education Award recognizes individual or group efforts to strengthen arts education in public schools.
The 6 p.m. program included performances by Barbara Nissman on piano; The Mountain Stage Band; Delegate Caleb Hanna; Cathey Sawyer; the Cabell Midland Jazz Knights, directed by Tim James; and Key to Adam, with Adam Moyer and Kiara Williams. Matt Thomas, West Virginia artist, was commissioned by the WVDACH to make the awards, blending the timeless grain of wood with the permanence of hand-forged steel.
The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented biennially to celebrate the state’s creative spirit and the amazing talents of the people and groups that produce art. They also recognize those whose willingness to support arts organizations and artists help to ensure the arts maintain an important place in our communities and schools. Through the restructuring of the Department of Arts, Culture and History in 2018, Governor Jim Justice, along with the WVDACH, continue to show their commitment to promoting and strengthening the arts in the Mountain State despite state budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Justice has been a dedicated advocate for the arts, especially arts in education. He believes a focus on arts in schools builds a strong foundation for excelling in other areas, which is one of the main reasons he chose an educator to receive this year’s lifetime achievement award.
The Governor’s Arts Awards include Artist of the Year and Arts Organization of the Year Award, which recognizes an individual artist and an organization who has impacted the exposure to the arts in West Virginia through his or her work; Susan S. Landis Distinguished Service Award to the Arts, which recognizes individuals and organizations of exceptional talent and creativity that have fostered growth and influenced trends and aesthetic practices on a state and national level; Folk Arts Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership or skill in the field of folk and traditional arts within West Virginia; Resiliency in the Arts Award, which recognizes a West Virginia individual or organization that demonstrated creative solutions and leadership in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions; and the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by Governor Justice, which recognizes an individual or organization for a lifetime of significant commitment to the arts through personal talent and skills, lifelong arts educational leadership, and support of arts development in West Virginia..
The Legislative Leadership in the Arts Awards include Arts in Education Awards, Community Arts Awards, Cultural Facilities Awards, Folk Arts and Lifetime Achievement, which are presented to those members of the Legislature who have made significant contributions in the arts.
A panel of members from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and staff of the Department of Arts, Culture and History selected winners who were nominated based on the magnitude of their contributions and achievements, the range of individuals or groups served, the length of time and intensity of their dedication to the arts and their level of excellence.