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Nearly 500 people attended the 2009 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony Friday, September 25, at Muncie’s Cornerstone Center for the Arts. This year’s event, hosted jointly by the Office of Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana Arts Commission, recognized the achievements and contributions of world renowned soprano Angela Brown; the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis; Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne; Vectren Corporation, Evansville; and the Ball Brothers Foundation, and George and Frances Ball Foundation, both of Muncie.
“Every year I have the opportunity to attend many different events such as this to honor and celebrate those things that make our state great, but this event is something that I look forward to for two years,” Governor Daniels said during his opening remarks. “This time I’ve had an extra special reason to look forward to this evening. This beautiful award we will be presenting tonight was created by India Cruse Griffin who, in addition to being a gifted artist, shares this talent as an art teacher. In fact, a few years back she taught art to the Daniels girls, so this is a very special evening.”
IAC Executive Director Lewis C. Ricci provided a brief retrospective of some of the previous recipients recognized over the 36 year history of the event.
“It is astounding to realize the difference Indiana’s culture has made to our quality of life, and to the cultural life of our country and world,” Ricci stated. “Perhaps it was Indiana’s location, one which nearly everyone would pass through, or perhaps it was simply the nature of our citizens, hard and creative workers who would not be out-done or consider themselves second rate to more cosmopolitan people or for that matter, anyone.”
Governor Daniels, along with IAC commissioners or former commissioners from the home communities of each recipient, presented the awards. The ceremony also featured live performances by 2006 Violin Competition Gold Medalist Augustin Hadelich and Angela Brown.
While the performing arts certainly enjoyed a major share of the spotlight, the impact the arts have on business and business has on the arts, was well evident. The contributions of Sweetwater Sound and Vectren Corporation to organizations in their respective communities were highlighted as were the years of support from the Ball Brothers Foundation and George and Frances Ball Foundations.
“You can’t expect to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce to a community unless those amenities like the arts are in place,” said Norman E. Beck, CEO of the George and Frances Ball Foundation upon accepting the award for his organization.
Muncie embraced hosting the biennial arts awards with downtown gallery walks, live performances, and an arts expose’ highlighting artists and organizations. Even the presence of light rain showers could not dampen the celebration.
“In spite of the rain, we had steady traffic in the gallery all night,” said Brian Gordy, artist and co-owner of Gallery 308. “The arts are very important to our downtown – to all of us. This has just been great.”
The next Governor’s Arts Awards program will be held in the fall of 2011.