A painter and promoter of the arts for the past 50 years, a businessman who provided local artists with affordable studio space, and the area’s only professional theatre designed just for children, have been named the winners of this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.
Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards recognize distinction in arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley. Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the Roanoke Valley region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are any past Kendig Award recipients. Hollins University and Roanoke College employees and programs are not eligible. Awards are presented in each of the following categories: Individual Artist, Individual or Business Supporter, and Arts and Culture Organization.
Harriet Stokes, whose large and colorful canvases can be found in public venues and private homes throughout the Valley, is this year’s Individual Artist award recipient. A Salem resident who recently celebrated her 99th birthday, Stokes was one of the originators of Art in the Alley and has been an exhibitor in Roanoke’s Annual Sidewalk Art Show for 54 of the competition’s 55 years. She was also a strong advocate for the Roanoke City Schools’ art program when it was threatened by budget cuts. In an essay for The Roanoke Times, Dorsey Taylor, owner of LinDor Arts in downtown Roanoke, called Stokes “the grande dame of the arts” and noted, “Through her efforts, she has shaped the friendliness of the art community to embrace one another rather than see us all fall to self-promotion.”
Richard Kurshan, who for a decade made two floors of studio space available to many local artists at Studios on the Square on Roanoke’s West Campbell Avenue, is the winner in the Individual or Business Supporter category. “I will always be grateful to Richard for enabling me to have a downtown Roanoke studio space at a price I could afford for 10 years,” said Susan Jamison, whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationwide. “Having this space has enabled me to create countless works, establish my career, and feel grounded as a working artist.”
In the Arts and Culture Organization category, the Roanoke Children’s Theatre (RCT), whose mission is to offer quality theatre education and entertainment for kids, their families, and their schools with year-round productions and programming, is this year’s awardee. RCT provides more than 4,500 programming hours to 17,000 youth each year, and since opening in 2008, RCT’s productions, educational outreach programming, and theatre education classes have reached more than 56,000. Recently, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized RCT’s “RCT4TEENS” program, which focuses on relevant and challenging issues youth face, and in 2011 RCT received the Roanoke City School Board’s Award of Recognition for its efforts to address bullying among sixth-graders in the Roanoke Valley.
Stokes, Kurshan, and the RCT will be officially honored at The Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards presentation on Sunday, November 3, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. in Roanoke College’s Colket Center Wortmann Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Laura Rawlings at (540) 375-2088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.