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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

Winners of Arts Build Communities Awards Announced

Awards Showcase Contributions of Arts Organizations

December 08, 2009

Virginians for the Arts has announced winners of its Arts Build Communities Awards. The awards recognize arts organizations that best demonstrate the ability to enhance the community, lift our spirits, and build a better quality of life. Virginians for the Arts President Peter Fields says, "The awards showcase the ways the arts contribute to the overall quality of life in Virginia communities."

— - Abingdon's own Barter Theatre was selected to receive the Shining Star Award. With 150,000 annual patrons, Barter Theatre was selected for the extraordinary impact it has had on the Abingdon community, the region, and on the Commonwealth of Virginia. Barter Theatre has stood the "test of time" — it was founded in 1933 during the Great Depression when patrons could exchange vegetables for a ticket — and is Abingdon's 10th largest employer,

The Barter is recognized for its ability to successfully develop community partnerships and business, legislative, and local community support. Long-standing partnerships include the local Second Harvest Food Bank and United Way of Washington County, among many others. Barter maintains relationships with recruiting departments of corporations and hospitals, as well as regional economic development offices, to help provide positive experiences of the area when prospective executives, doctors, and businesses come to the area.

Barter enhances K-12 education in the region, discounting ticket prices by two-thirds for Student Matinees and providing free tickets to students enrolled in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Its education programs serve more than 55,000 children each year.

— - The Prizery, South Boston, was selected to receive the Rising Star Award, presented to an organization that contributes to and engages its community significantly, like the winner of the Shining Star award, but is not as well established. Founded in 2004, the Prizery has galvanized support for the fine and lively arts across the region, and it has become a mecca of performances, exhibits, and classes. Housed in a donated circa 1903 building, which underwent a $7 million adaptive re-use overhaul, today it is a major regional attraction for visitors and business prospects.

Among its significant programs supporting K-12 education, The Prizery operates a unique Pre-K Arts Academy for every public-school four-year-old, partnering with the Halifax County Public Schools. Its work has helped spawned businesses that include three restaurants, a retail art gallery, a clothing boutique, a home décor shop and an artists' guild. The organization has sparked an entirely new way of community thinking about the region's potential in a post-tobacco, post-textile era.


Shining Star Finalists:

Signature Theatre, Arlington; The Taubman, Roanoke; 1708 Gallery, Richmond, and Piedmont Arts Association, Martinsville.

Rising Star Finalists:

Empowered Women, International, Alexandria; Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester; Break the Glass Foundation, Chesapeake; and Gallery 5, Richmond.

Shining Star Honorable Mentions:


* Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center, Clifton Forge
* Bluemont: The Cultural Spirit of our Communities, Purcellville
* Educational Theatre Company, Arlington
* Greater Reston Art Center, Reston
* Municipal Band of Charlottesville, Charlottesville
* Piedmont Council of the Arts, Charlottesville
* Pro-Art Association, Wise
* Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Richmond
* Wayside Theatre, Middleton

Rising Star Honorable Mentions

* Southwest Virginia Community College, Richlands
* Bay School Cultural Art Center, Mathews
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* Parsons-Bruce Art Association, South Boston
* The Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville
* Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, Falls Church

Eighty-two Virginia arts organizations were nominated for awards. Judges for the awards included Willie Dell, Commissioner, Virginia Commission for the Arts; Peter Fields, President, Virginians for the Arts; Mark Flynn, Legislative Director, Virginia Municipal League, Richmond; Marjorie N. Grier, Director-Corporate Philanthropy, Dominion Resources, Inc., Richmond; Dr. Roderic A. Taylor, Member of the Board, Virginians for the Arts, Chesapeake; and J. Vaughan Webb, Commissioner, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Ferrum. Beth Temple, Alexandria, served as a judge and chaired the judges panel. She serves as Chair of the Virginians for the Arts Awards Committee.

According to Peggy Baggett, Executive Director, Virginia Commission for the Arts, "There are many arts organizations all across Virginia that are doing outstanding work in enriching the lives of their home communities. These organizations are anchors for downtown and neighborhood revitalization. Performances, festivals, and art exhibitions bring people together for shared experiences, which build cohesion within communities and create a sense of civic pride. Arts organizations employ people and make purchases from local businesses, adding to economic vitality. The new Arts Build Communities Awards bring a spotlight to the role of arts organizations in building strong communities."

Matthew D. Fine, a well-known sculptor from Norfolk, Virginia, with a growing national reputation, has been selected to prepare the award pieces.

Awards will be presented at the ArtWorks for Virginia Conference 2010 Luncheon on Jan. 27, 2010, in Richmond, Va.

Virginians for the Arts works to build awareness of the importance of the efforts of Virginia's state arts agency, the Virginia Commission for the Arts. In 2009, the agency provided grants for operating support for more than 200 arts organizations throughout the state and more than 1,000 other types of grants that benefit teachers, students, local government, artists and the communities they serve.

The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the only entity in the state concerned about developing the arts industry as a whole and about making the arts available in all parts of the Commonwealth. In 2008, the Commission helped to make possible 39,943 arts events attended by more than 7.7 million people, including 1.9 million school children.

As of October 2009, Virginia's arts agency was funded at 51 cents per capita, the lowest level of any state arts agency of its neighboring states: including (July 2009 figures) North Carolina at $1.18 cents, Maryland at $2.52, Kentucky at $.84, and West Virginia at $1.54.