At this year's Governor's Awards in the Arts ceremony, Gov. Steve Beshear will honor nine Kentucky artists and organizations for their work in advocating for and creating excitement about Kentucky art.
The governor will give awards in nine categories, with the Milner Award being the most prestigious. A date has not been set for the ceremony.
"It's been my special privilege these past eight years to bestow this honor on many deserving artists and friends of the arts in Kentucky, and these honorees continue that fine tradition," Beshear said in a press release. "It is especially poignant to do so in this, the 50th anniversary year of the Kentucky Arts Council."
Nominations are taken every year from the public, and the deadline to nominate someone for the 2016 awards is Nov. 1, 2015.
Al Smith, an award-winning journalist and chairman of the Kentucky Arts Council from 1977-79 and 1981-84, will receive the Milner Award for his support of Kentucky artists.
"The work of the local community arts programs is near and dear to my heart," Smith said. "As always, we could use more patronage and more support for the art companies and individual artists."
Smith represents the award winners who contributed to the arts through advocacy, while others represent Kentucky artists.
It's these individual artists Smith says he worked hard to promote. For example, the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council gives artists $7,500 to give them the ability to work on projects they might otherwise not be able to afford.
"I've been very gratified to see the growth of that program," Smith said. "I think it's some of the best investments we could make. It does give a chance for individual artists to have some time to do some special work."
The artist award will be given to Linda Fifield, whose work has appeared in museum collections including the Smithsonian Institution. Fifield makes a variety of traditional Appalachian art, but specializes in beadwork and basketry.
The business award goes to Big Ass Solutions. Known for manufacturing giant fans, the company also employs a troop of artists, including more than 20 graphic and interior designers, writers and web professionals.
Creative Diversity Studio will receive the community award for its work teaching adults with disabilities about the arts.
Nathan Link will get the education award for creating excitement for arts at Centre College. Link teaches courses on Kentucky Folk Music and helped to create a minor in African and African-American studies at Centre.
Willie Rascoe wins the Folk Heritage Award for creating sculptures from bone, wood, shells and other things he find along the banks of Western Kentucky rivers and lakes.
The Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau will receive the government award for their support of local art, which led the United Nations to honor Paducah as a Creative City of Craft and Folk Art.
For his work in cinema, Dave Shuffett will receive the media award. Shuffet hosted Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Life from 1999 to 2015 and received nine Emmy nominations. His book My Kentucky Life is a collection of photos and stories from people he met throughout the state.
Bowling Green native and Grammy Award winner Sam Bush won the National Award for his "Newgrass" music. Bush has collaborated with artists including Alison Krauss and Leon Russell, and has played at festivals across the country.