A concert pianist from Lewisburg, a county arts council and a folk arts coordinator at the Augusta Heritage Center are among seven winners recently selected from numerous nominations for the 2008 Governor’s Arts Awards, which will be held at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston tonight at 6:30 p.m. The winner of the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement for significant accomplishments in the arts, selected from among four finalists, will be announced on the night of the awards ceremony.
The Appalachian Folklife Award will go to Gerry Milnes of Elkins, who has dedicated himself to the practice and preservation of West Virginia folklife and folk art in all forms. He is currently the folk arts coordinator at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College. A Distinguished Service to the Arts Award will be given to Adam DeGraff and Barbara Nissmann, both of Lewisburg. DeGraff has spent the last 20 years utilizing his skills to serve as a concert violinist, dedicated teacher and ambassador for the arts. He currently teaches and provides private violin instruction to more than 60 students. Nissman is a concert pianist, teacher, writer, lecturer and recording artist. As a Steinway artist, she has performed with the leading orchestras of Europe and the United States, and is honored in the Steinway Hall of Legends.
Leadership in the Arts Awards will be presented to Larry Groce and Lakin Ray Cook of Charleston and the Morgan Arts Council of Berkeley Springs. Groce, as a singer/songwriter, has created a body of work comprised of 22 albums and 40 other recordings. He is perhaps best known for serving as artistic director, host and co-producer of Mountain Stage, the two-hour live radio show produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Cook has an extensive career in the arts both in the public and private section. She was the director of arts for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, served on numerous grant panels for state and national granting programs and boards of many national agencies, and is currently the director of performing arts and education for the Clay Center in Charleston. The Morgan Arts Council was one of the first local arts councils established in West Virginia. For more than 31 years, the group has provided strong leadership to individual artists, schools, the statewide arts community and arts organizations.
The honorees will receive a limited edition, signed and numbered, cobalt blue vase created by Blenko Glass of Milton. The gala awards ceremony and reception will feature performances by West Virginia artists including the Appalachian Children’s Chorus under the direction of Selina Midkiff, Pianafiddle, Donald Laney of the West Virginia Dance Company, Ryan Hardiman, Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Barbara Nissman, winner of the Distinguished Service to the Arts, and the Ryan Kennedy Trio. The program also will honor eight Artist Fellowship winners.
The Governor’s Arts Awards program is sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Tickets for the evening are $25 per person and can be reserved by calling (304) 558-0220, ext. 123, or purchased at the door.
For more information, contact Jeff Pierson, director of arts for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 717.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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