CONWAY, Ark. (Arkansas PBS) — As part of its Arkansas Live initiative, Arkansas PBS will livestream the 2023 Governor’s Arts Awards at noon April 26 from Robinson Center in Little Rock at myarpbs.org/arkansaslive.
Established in 1991, the annual Governor's Arts Awards program recognizes Arkansas artists, arts patrons, arts educators, arts organizations and businesses for their outstanding contributions to the arts community.
Recipients are nominated by the public, then selected by an independent panel of arts professionals from around the state. Each recipient receives an original work of art created by an Arkansas artist. Awardees are honored during a special luncheon and ceremony April 26.
The 2023 recipients are:
- Christina Littlejohn of Little Rock, Arts Community Development Award – Littlejohn is the CEO for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Through her leadership, she has guided a once-struggling nonprofit to become the state’s leader in music education and the top employer of professional teaching artists and musicians.
- Jorge Villegas and Maria Botti Villegas of El Dorado, Arts in Education Award for an Arts Educator – Jorge and Maria Botti are teaching artists at the South Arkansas Arts Center and in arts-in-education programs in El Dorado area public schools. Both relocated from Argentina to Arkansas and in 1982, the South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC) developed an in-school artist residency program which Jorge became the first teaching artist. Maria joined the program in 1993. Both have been sharing their diverse artistic expertise with students in public schools across south Arkansas ever since.
- The Foundation of Arts in Jonesboro, Arts in Education Award for an Arts Organization – The Foundation of Arts (FOA) began as a community theatre when it was founded over 32 years ago. In the last decade, FOA has expanded student learning opportunities in dance, vocal music, musical theatre, drawing and painting. The organization offers more than 40 classes to nearly 300 students every week.
- The Springs Magazine in Hot Springs, Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award – The Springs Magazine began in 1993 to serve the growing arts community in Hot Springs. The monthly print publication is a guide to art gallery openings, musical performances, poetry readings and other local entertainment and festivals.
- The Music Roots Program/Founder Danny Thomas in Mountain View, Folklife Award – The Music Roots Program was established in 1997 by Danny Thomas, the superintendent of the Mountain View School District. Through a career orientation grant, an in-school program was developed to create a career path for young people in town known for folk music. The program is in partnership with the Ozark Folk Center State Park, which reviews and recommends musicians as program instructors and provides performance opportunities for the students.
- Sammy Peters of Little Rock, Individual Artist Award – Sammy Peters is an abstract painter who has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work is included in collections around the world including the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, the estate of Winthrop Rockefeller and many private collections from Little Rock to London. His work has been described as multi-layered, richly textured and complex in color.
- Kelly and Marti Sudduth of Bentonville, Patron Award – Kelly and Marti Sudduth relocated to Northwest Arkansas in 2009. They have made significant contributions to the arts in their new home state for the past 12 years. They have made significant contributions to not only the Walton Arts Center, but also the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) and Crystal Bridges Musuem of American Art. In 2016, the Sudduth’s substantial donation of a $1 million gift enabled the Waltons Art Center to meet its deadline for a major challenge grant. The funding was part of a capital campaign dedicated to the expansion of the arts center.
- Andrew Kilgore of Fayetteville, Lifetime Achievement Award – Andrew Kilgore is a portrait photographer who specializes in documenting intriguing groups of people. His signature black and white documentary style of photography is distinctly recognizable. Kilgore moved to Arkansas 50 years ago after spending time in India with the Peace Corps and attending theological seminary school. At age 82, Kilgore is still an active photographer.
Arkansas Live is an initiative from Arkansas PBS that brings informative and engaging events directly to Arkansans through livestreaming. Get front row access to some of the most educational and entertaining events across the state, including livestreams from Crystal Bridges, Arkansas Department of Heritage, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and more.
Anyone interested in submitting an event to be considered for livestreaming through Arkansas Live should complete the form at myarpbs.org/arkansaslive.
Arkansas Arts Council
The Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of Arkansas Heritage, advances the arts in Arkansas by providing services and supporting arts endeavors that encourage and assist literary, performing and visual artists in achieving standards of professional excellence. In addition, the Arkansas Arts Council provides technical and financial assistance to Arkansas arts organizations and other providers of cultural and educational programs. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
Arkansas Heritage was created in 1975 and is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. There are eight agencies with unique heritage focuses under the umbrella of this division: Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Mike Mills serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.
About Arkansas PBS
Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, empowers learners of all ages by educating, informing, entertaining and inspiring communities. Arkansas PBS serves as a daily and essential resource for Arkansans by creating, sharing, celebrating and driving conversation around Arkansas stories and classic, trusted PBS programs through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at myarpbs.org/watch, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at myarkansaspbs.org. Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado), KETS (Lee Mountain), KETS (Forrest City) and KETS (Gaither).