Ky. Foundation for Women leader, Carnegie Center among state arts award winners

rcopley@herald-leader.comJuly 9, 2014 

Danville had a big day in the announcement of the 2014 Governor's Awards in the Arts, which also went to several other Eastern and Central Kentucky entities and an internationally acclaimed rock band.

The awards, announced Wednesday, are administered by the Kentucky Arts Council and are to be presented in October in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.

The retiring executive director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women, Judith Jennings, received the top honor, the Milner Award.

Jennings' work has focused on arts in rural Kentucky and Appalachia, and her work with the foundation has focused on feminist art.

In an interview with the Herald-Leader, published Tuesday, before the awards were announced, Jennings said she plans to continue her work after she retires.

The announcement from the Arts Council said, "Her work has allowed her to develop a strong local, regional and national presence that benefits Kentucky, Appalachia and rural America by advocating for expanding and diversifying the arts. Her expertise and national approach in addition to her writings on arts and culture challenge national stereotypes about community arts in Kentucky and support the transformative power of community-based arts and culture to create a better commonwealth."

The artist award goes to gospel singer and composer Larnelle Harris, a native of Danville. A graduate of Western Kentucky University and a Louisville resident, Harris has received five Grammy Awards and 11 Dove Awards, and he has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Making it an even bigger week for the Boyle County seat, the city of Danville won the government award.

Among Danville's arts attractions are Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts, the Great American Brass Band Festival, and Pioneer Playhouse, which just opened its latest Kentucky Voices production, The Wonder Team, about the Centre football team's historic 1921 victory over Harvard.

The awards announcement said, "The local government representing the city of Danville has played an integral role in the success of creating an arts- and culture-focused atmosphere that benefits its residents and attracts tourists from across the nation. ... The city also was instrumental in obtaining Danville's Kentucky Cultural District Certification."

Lexington's Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning received the education award for its two decades of activities focused on promoting literacy and literary arts in Kentucky.

"The center aims to foster participation in the arts as a lifelong process for people of all ages, income groups and ethnicities, and partners with numerous community organizations to create programming and service opportunities to the benefit of the entire community and the Commonwealth," the awards announcement said.

The center is working on its own awards now, soliciting nominations for the next class of the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

The technical services staff of Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center gets the business award for "making Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center one of the finest presenting facilities in the country."

Frankfort's Robert Gates, founder and former director of the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University, wins the folk heritage award. He was the state folklorist from 1989 through 2012, and he developed the program as the state organization dedicated to "documenting, presenting and conserving the traditional art and cultural heritage of the commonwealth."

He developed the Kentucky Community Scholars program, which has trained more than 200 Kentuckians in documenting local culture and creating community projects.

The media award goes to Constance Alexander of Murray, who writes an arts column for the Murray Ledger & Times and is an award-winning writer and radio producer.

The Market House Theater in Paducah wins the community arts award. The 50-year-old community theater "aims to enhance the quality of life in the community by providing 'hands-on' artistic and educational experiences for people of all ages," the announcement said.

The national award winner is Louisville's My Morning Jacket, one of the most critically acclaimed bands working today. The band maintains a close identity with its home state through residence and activity.

Rich Copley received the Governor's Awards in the Arts' media award in 2010. (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes.

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