In a change of format, the 2017 Kentucky Governor’s Awards in the Arts were presented Friday at the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort in an invitation-only ceremony. But, the ceremony was also streamed on Facebook Live for the first time, so we are sharing the stream.
Honorees included Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts winning the community arts award, “The Voice” winner Jordan Smith with the emerging artist award, Madison County artist Jennifer Zurick receiving the folk heritage award, Lexington Parks & Recreation winning the government award, Lexington native and Washington Post photographer jahi chikwendiu receiving the national award and Lexington’s Adrian Partridge, the inaugural recipient of the youth artist award.
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Also recognized were South Central Bank board chair Ruthie Bale of Glasgow with the Milner award, Lewis County fiddler Roger Wilford Cooper with the artist award, the Kroger Company with the business award, Daviess County’s RiverPark Center with the education award and Warren County-based Mountain Workshops with the media award.
The honorees are selected by the Kentucky Arts Council from public nominations and approved by Gov. Matt Bevin.
The award itself this year is a magnolia collage created by Lexington artist Mary Rezny.
In recent years, the Governors Awards have been presented at a public ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, followed by a private luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. Friday’s ceremony combined the two events. Another change from recent editions of the Governor’s Awards was the elimination of speeches by the winners. Recipients were introduced with a short biography read by Arts Council chair Mary Michael Corbett, and then the recipients went up and posed for photos with Bevin and Rezny’s award.
Asked about the elimination of speeches, Arts Council spokesperson Tom Musgrave wrote in an email, “The truncated schedule did not allow for recipient speeches. We combined the ceremony and the recipients’ luncheon into a single event at the mansion. That meant we had less time for the actual presentation of awards, so the acceptance speech portion was taken out of the schedule.
“Recipients were invited to submit their statements of gratitude to us to publish on social media, and as we receive them, we will do so.”
The Kentucky Arts Council has not replied to questions about the changes in the ceremony’s format and location.
Bevin, who has faced criticism for cuts to arts programs such as Morehead’s Folk Art Center in his current budget proposal, did give brief remarks at the beginning of the ceremony stating his support for the arts and addressing budget cuts.
“With budgets under constrains, everything gets squeezed — everything, including the arts, and yet it doesn’t make them any less critical, any less important,” Bevin said. “If anything, it makes them more so. So the fact is, having to do as much or more with less is never easy, never fun, but the reality is it’s still critical.”
Rich Copley, @copiousnotes