Johnelle Hunt of Rogers is among the 2017 Governor’s Arts Awards recipients for her contributions to the arts in Arkansas.
The initiative is led by Little Rock-based nonprofit Arkansas Arts Council, which has recognized individuals and corporations with the awards for 26 years.
Hunt, chairman of Hunt Ventures of Rogers and a co-founder of J.B. Hunt Transport Services of Lowell, is the recipient of the Patron Award, recognizing her “support and corporate contributions … to arts organizations and other nonprofits in Northwest Arkansas for many years.”
According to the profile accompanying the award, Hunt donated 6 acres of land to kick-start development of the Walton Arts Center’s Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) in Rogers. The outdoor amphitheater accommodates more than 9,500 people with 3,200 covered seats, with additional general admission seating on a sloped lawn. Additionally, Hunt provided a $3 million interest-free loan to help fund construction of the outdoor facility.
She also provides a busing subsidy that makes it possible for area schools to take field trips to see educational performances at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.
Other recipients are: Thom Hall of Little Rock (Lifetime Achievement Award); Sam and Barbara Tobias of Mena (Arts Community Development Award); Art Porter Music Education Inc. of Little Rock (Arts in Education Award); Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP of Little Rock (Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award); Freda Cruse Hardison of Mountain View of Mountain View (Folklife Award); Reese Rowland of Little Rock (Individual Artist Award); and Mex Elbo of Eureka Springs (Judges Recognition Award).
Recipients were nominated by the public and chosen by an independent panel of arts professionals from around the state. Award-winners were announced Oct. 31 and will recognized at a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in the spring. The date has not been determined.
Honorees will also receive an original artwork created by Arkansas artist Elizabeth James of Springdale.
The AAC is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.