From a pool of over 350 nominees, the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA), the state arts agency, has selected the Birthplace of Country Music’s (BCM) Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival to receive one of its prestigious “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” in the category of Exemplary Programs & Pinnacle Events!
The “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” were conceived and designed by the Commission as a 50th anniversary tribute to 50 examples of programs, individuals, and organizations critical to the arts in Virginia. The designated “Arts Inspirations” may have played a critical role in the last 50 years, or they may serve as today’s leaders and exemplars or be tomorrow’s visionaries, leading the way to a culturally vibrant future. The Commission was established by law in 1968 to promote awareness of and access to the arts across the state and to support a broad range of artists, arts organizations, and arts educators.
Following a statewide call for nominations, nominees for the awards in all categories were accepted for two months this spring. A panel comprised of former commissioners and arts leaders reviewed the nominations this past summer and recommended a slate to the full Board, which adopted the final roster this fall. To ensure impartiality, no former commissioners and no state-elected officials were selected for the roster.
“We are indeed fortunate in Virginia to have an abundant and diverse roster of outstanding artists and organizations and their supporters spanning disciplines and decades,” said Margaret Vanderhye, the Commission’s executive director. “The 50 selected winners are representative of the best, but this list is far from definitive. Every day in communities across the Commonwealth, thousands of people benefit from the creative energies and pursuit of excellence that characterize Virginia artists and arts organizations.”
VCA Commissioner and 50th Anniversary Co-Chair Jo Hodgin (Annandale) stated: “These awardees carry the banner for countless arts workers and supporters who use the arts to build a strong Virginia. We believe the arts are essential for a creative 21st-century workforce, economically dynamic communities, and a culture based on wellness and accessibility.”
“The Birthplace of Country Music is honored to have achieved this recognition for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion from the Virginia Commission for the Arts,” said Leah Ross, BCM Executive Director. “Art and culture is essential to achieving a vibrant community. Business owners want to locate in communities that not only offer good education, infrastructure, and a strong and diverse workforce, they also want a good quality of life for their employees. Communities that offer a wide range of arts and culture to its citizens cultivate a good quality of life for their residents. The arts help provide an identity that is very specific to a region. This is valuable for tourism. The state of Virginia and the Virginia Commission of the Arts recognize this and offer valuable support to communities. There has never been a more important time to support the arts than right now. We are so grateful to VCA for their amazing work and for everything they continue to do for Bristol.”
Award recipients were honored on Tuesday, along with other state arts leaders and supporters, at a special reception at the Executive Mansion with Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe during a special Celebration of the Arts.
On Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 1:00-5:00 p.m., the Commission will hold a 50th Anniversary Program for arts organizations across the state at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. That afternoon the 50 for 50 Arts Inspiration award recipients, including the Birthplace of Country Music, will be officially recognized for their achievements. A reception will follow in the Marble Hall.
Commission Chair Shelley Kruger Weisberg (Williamsburg) commented: “The entire Commission applauds the ’50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Award’ recipients whose work is representative of the transformative power of the arts in our Commonwealth. The impressive array of arts leaders, arts organizations, pinnacle events, and artists are a testament to the extraordinary diversity and vitality of the arts in every corner of the state.”
Each of the five nomination categories represents a different element of the arts in time and focus. For the Exemplary Programs and Pinnacle Events category awarded to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, the criteria for winners was for programs and events from the past 50 years that have demonstrated artistic excellence, celebrated diversity, offered outreach to underserved populations, and engaged community partners, along with having a visionary or innovative approach to their program or event.
Other categories included Bedrock Institutions, Emerging Artists and Organizations, Arts Leaders and Supporters, and Outstanding Artists.