The Arts Council for Long Beach this week announced the 2011 Distinguished Arts Awards winners, each being recognized for playing an essential role in furthering the arts in Long Beach. Awardees were selected by an independent panel, based on nominations submitted by the public. The winners are as follows:
Gregorio Luke (Distinguished Artist of the Year), who has given more than 1,000 lectures on the subjects of Mexican art, history, women’s issues and more. According to the Arts Council, his lectures and writing continue to inspire and educate audiences about the impact of the arts in our everyday lives.
Blair Cohn (Distinguished Arts Leadership of the Year) who, as executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, has built a new arts scene that includes the monthly First Fridays Art Walk, the Bixby Knolls Literary Society, and the Expo arts center, which now houses two galleries and two theater spaces. According to the Arts Council, Cohn’s hard work demonstrates that the arts can truly serve businesses and residents alike.
Mary Ellen Kilsby (Distinguished Arts Patron of the Year), who has supported the arts in Long Beach for 30 years. She incorporated music and performances in her ministries starting in 1981 when she arrived at United Congregational Church. After retirement, she continues to donate to many arts organizations, including Long Beach Opera, International City Theatre, The Found Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, and Long Beach museums. She is an art collector and includes many Long Beach artists in her collection.
Bobbie Cusato (Distinguished Arts Volunteer of the Year), who has been volunteering for the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra for more than two decades. A nominator describes Bobbie Cusato as “the kind of volunteer everyone wishes for. She is a leader of the first order, with an amazing talent for organizing and executing a project; she is an indefatigable, indispensable, cheerful volunteer.”
Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (James H. Ackerman Award), which has been supporting arts and culture in Long Beach for more than 20 years. The Agency’s Percent for Public Art Program funds permanent onsite, art-in-architecture projects as well as temporary public art and cultural facilities. The Agency also supports historic preservation and rehabilitation projects and makes arts-related loans to small, local organizations. In 2009 and 2010, the Agency’s arts-related funding totaled more than $3.2 million. A select list of projects funded by the Agency includes: The Collaborative at Gallery 421, Summer and Music festival, AerialPlaza and Promenade of Clouds: Image Emergence on the Promenade, the ArtExchange and the American Hotel rehabilitation.
The public is invited to the Distinguished Arts Awards on Wednesday, April 6 at 6pm at the Art Theatre, 2025 East 4th St. Free parking and valet will be located two blocks north at City at the Cross Church, 2209 E. 6th St. There will be a shuttle taking attendees back and forth from the parking lot to the Art Theatre. This event is free and open to the public.