Posted by Jeff Clarke, Vice President

Sheila Wyne

Photo Credit: © 2009 Hal Gage

Last Thursday evening, a large crowd was present (and decidedly enjoying itself) as Governor Parnell recognized an amazing group of individual Alaskans and corporations as 2009 recipients of the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. The Awards, presented annually to honor the contribution of individuals and groups that “enrich the civic, intellectual and cultural life of all Alaskans through the wisdom and techniques of the humanities,” are sponsored by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Office of the Governor.

The 2009 recipients are:

Wanda Chin, Fairbanks, Arts Advocacy Award;

Koniag, Incorporated, Kodiak, Business Leadership Award;

Dr. Rudolph Krejci and Dr. James M. Kari, Fairbanks, Governor’s Awards for the Humanities;

Lynda Leal, Anchorage, Alaska History and Culture Curriculum Teacher of the Year (Bartlett High School);

Pauline Lee, Petersburg, Lifetime Achievement Award for the Arts;

Florence Pestrikoff, Kodiak, Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Native Arts and Languages;

Sheila Wyne, Anchorage, Individual Artist Award

The Alaska State Council on the Arts press release provides good background about each recipient and their remarkable contributions to the quality of life here in Alaska.

Having had the opportunity to attend, I can say that the highlight of the evening was listening to the remarks shared by each recipient. The passion, insight, humor, commitment, and caring conveyed to and history shared with the audience was, in and of itself, a remarkable contribution to our state

In her remarks, Individual Artist Award recipient Sheila Wyne reframed how one might think about practicing artists and their important role within civil society. While sharing her comments with you here will not sufficiently stand in for the eloquence, passion and presence with which the remarks themselves were delivered, they do give you a sense of why those of us in attendance walked away filled with hope and inspiration:

“Thank you.  As an artist, I’m very grateful for this recognition. It’s wonderful to have this minute to speak to such a group. For those of you who may not know much about artists I want to illuminate an aspect of the artists’ life.”

“Like most working artists, I’m an entrepreneur of ideas – big ideas, subtle ideas, surprising perspectives, and sometimes outrageous notions.”

“Like other business entrepreneurs, artists create economic opportunity and revenue that spreads out into the larger economy. We do it through our white-collar management skills that oversee our blue-collar efforts to make good stuff. The work of artists is about taking something from start to finish. So we understand the practical connections between cause and effect, ends and means, debits and credits, assets and liabilities, trial and error, the internal and external nature of value.

“Like other entrepreneurs we cannot do this in a vacuum.  When a community is viable – chugging along on all cylinders – artists have a foundation to stand on to make their ideas real. It is the same for all entrepreneurs. Whether they work in the arts or in the energy sectors or in a cutting edge IT business; entrepreneurs want to be where the action is. These kind of people – my kind of people – are drawn towards communities and the businesses that provide an environment for the free flow of ideas, the support, investment and implementation of making good stuff happen.”

“Forward thinking communities become patrons and advocates of the creative class of entrepreneurs and thereby attract the next generation with their new wave of assets that will infuse the environment with new ideas and so strengthen all sectors of society.”

“I was given this award for what I’ve accomplished so far. I’d like to accept this award for what might yet be in our community.”

Do you have any stories about this year’s recipients and what they and their contributions mean to Alaska? Please share here.

Photo Credit: © 2009 Hal Gage