The Arkansas Arts Council, a division of Arkansas Heritage, will honor several in the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards at a ceremony in March. Since 1991, the annual awards program has recognized individuals and businesses for their outstanding contributions to the arts in Arkansas.
Recipients are nominated by the public, then selected by an independent panel of arts professionals.
Arts Community Development Award
Gretchen Hall of Little Rock, president and CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB.) Hall began her work at LRCVB as an event coordinator in 2001, before becoming the manager of marketing and public relations. Hall managed the $70 million renovation of the Robinson Center’s performance hall, which included major improvements to the backstage area, technical and acoustic improvements, as well as restoration to the Art Deco architectural features. She founded Jazz in the Park, which pays local jazz musicians to perform a series of free outdoor concerts two months out of the year.
Arts in Education Award
Jeannie Hulen of West Fork, associate dean and professor of ceramics at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Hulen was a major catalyst in conceptualizing, organizing and implementing historic fundraising and grant-writing efforts that resulted in the construction of a 33,000-square-foot, state of the art, sculpture facility at the university. Her vision helped establish the university’s School of Art, which was made possible via $120 million from the Walton Family Foundation and $40 million from the Windgate Foundation. She is a ceramics and multimedia sculptor who has exhibited internationally. She was a visiting resident artist in Taiwan in 2009 and U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Ghana, West Africa, in 2018 and 2019.
Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award
Arkansas Health and Wellness in Little Rock. Arkansas Health and Wellness (AHW) is a subsidiary of Centene Corp., a health insurance company based in Little Rock. It has sponsored the ACANSA, the annual visual and performing arts festival in Central Arkansas, since its inception in 2014.
Marty Scarbrough of Jonesboro. Scarbrough is the program director at KASU-FM 91.9 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. He began working at KASU-FM in 1992 and has more than 30 years of experience working in public radio. Although he has hosted radio shows focused on jazz, classical, blues and folk music, he has made a special effort to promote bluegrass music specifically. Scarbrough created a weekly bluegrass radio program, called “Down Home Harmonies,” in the late 1990s. In 2002, KASU-FM began monthly concerts, called “Bluegrass Mondays,” to feature live music and to contribute to the downtown revitalization effort. Scarbrough works to promote bluegrass music by booking the bands, doing all publicity for the event and serving as emcee at the concerts. Scarbrough has been instrumental in bringing 187 free bluegrass concerts to Northeast Arkansas. He has brought in local and nationally renowned bluegrass acts to venues across the region. The events are funded by support from sponsors and donations from concertgoers. Up to 400 bluegrass fans attend monthly.
Individual Artist Award
Mark Landon Smith of Fayetteville. Smith is the executive director of Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville, where he’s worked since 2003. He is an actor, comedian, playwright and stage director. Under Smith’s direction, Arts Live Theatre produces nine productions a year, up from two to three shows a season. He has 16 published scripts, mostly in the “Southern comedy” genre. He also is the founder and director of the Actors Casting Agency, which helps place actors and crew members in Arkansas film projects.
Judges Recognition Award
The Breakfast Club Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville. This program was created in 2015 to teach skills for life, school and work through visual, performing and stagecraft skills. Certified professionals teach students drawing, painting, computer-aided design, acting, costuming, play writing, set construction and prop design. Students in the program are required to participate in one public service project each semester. Past projects have included creating murals to cover graffiti, beautifying a bike path and reading to elementary students.
Madison and Suzanne Murphy of El Dorado. The Murphies provide significant levels of financial support and attends performances and other events. They have been involved in creating an arts district in their hometown of El Dorado. Madison Murphy is chairman of the board for Murphy USA. He is a founding member of El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc., which gave rise to the creation of the Murphy Arts District, known as “MAD,” in El Dorado.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Henri Linton Sr. of Pine Bluff. Linton is an artist, curator and retired educator. For more than 50 years, Linton worked in the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). He began his career in 1969 as an art instructor, then became a professor before being promoted in 1980 to chairman of the art department. He remained chairman until his retirement in 2014. In 2004, Linton founded and became the director of the University Museum and Cultural Center, a facility that documents UAPB’s and the surrounding Delta area’s 144-plus years of history and creates changing art exhibitions. In 2018, he was selected for inclusion into “The HistoryMakers Digital Archives,” a video collection of prominent African Americans that is housed at the Library of Congress.