Nothing creates a sense of place within a community quite like the arts. Strong and relevant cultural organizations can help revitalize communities while spurring economic development and increasing quality of life. Though many are only now beginning to recognize the role of the arts in creating vibrant communities, Macon Arts Alliance (a Knight Arts grantee) has long understood this reality. More than two decades ago, the organization began a tradition of honoring those individuals and organizations who had made significant contributions to arts and culture. A well-deserved congratulations goes to Jane Boyd-Hamilton, Priscilla Esser and Nan Solomon, who were each honored this year.
The 2012 Cultural Awards ceremony was held at the auditorium of the Museum of Arts and Sciences on Monday, October 22. More than 100 people, including many past recipients, attended the event to honor the three individuals selected. Andrea Williford, president of Macon Arts Alliance, gave a welcome and champagne toast to begin the evening. She asked all past honorees to stand for a round of applause and she introduced Jan Beeland, the organization’s executive director, to speak. Beeland gave a report to the community on the accomplishments of Macon Arts Alliance during the 2011-12 year. She remarked on the successful launch of Ovations365.com, the organization’s new community calendar website, and the implementation of grants to create a Community Supported Art program in partnership with The 567 Center for Renewal.
The honorees were then introduced, one by one, by the person who had nominated them. Fred Hardin introduced Jane Boyd-Hamilton, who was nominated for her work with Warner Robins Little Theatre and her support of the performing arts. The central Georgia theater, which she helped found and has long supported, is currently celebrating 50 years of service.
Terrell Sandefur introduced Priscilla Esser, who is the current president of the Jazz Association of Macon and a past president of the Macon Arts Alliance. During her acceptance speech, Esser told the story about her move to Macon and how the arts helped to her make new friends in a new place. Her story reveals the power of the arts to make a community a home.
Jim Crisp, artistic director of Theatre Macon, introduced Nan Solomon at the event. Without prepared notes, Crisp spoke at length about the contributions Solomon had made to the arts community and in his life personally. He called her a consummate professional and a performer who was willing to do whatever was asked for the good of the show.
Following the presentation of awards, a reception was held in the lobby of the museum. Macon Arts Alliance awards cultural awards each October in celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month. The tradition is a long and enduring testament to the power of the arts to transform communities and of the perseverance of the individuals who have contributed so much to help arts and culture thrive in Macon and central Georgia.