The 2014 Vermont Arts Awards Gala
A Warm Reception in the NEK
A friendly Northeast Kingdom audience clapped enthusiastically on the evening of Tuesday, October 7, as three Vermonters received accolades for individual accomplishment in the arts.
The Arts Council travels to a different region of the state each year to celebrate the cultural richness of the area. Thank you! to the St. Johnsbury Academy and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum for welcoming the Council to town this year.
Ellen Bryant Voigt offered a poetic tribute to Galway. Her touching words spoke to the unique and central influence Kinnell’s body of work offers to living American poets. She read expertly from his first published book of poetry, “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World” (Houghton Mifflin, 1974) and offered her own praise of all he has accomplished.
Governor Peter Shumlin then stepped to the podium and spoke about Kinnell’s life and achievements, and about the value of the arts in the creation of vibrant Vermont communities. Galway’s son, Fergus Kinnell, was there to accept the award from the Governor.
A seven minute video was prepared to honor the great poet.
Arts Council staffer Michele Bailey introduced Bess O’Brien, speaking of four characteristics that best describe Bess’ work: empathy, dialogue, healing, and education. Michele offered that “Bess has fostered many opportunities for learning and cross-cultural communication about some of the toughest issues facing Vermont…By raising awareness about difficult issues, and bringing them to the forefront, her work has the power to affect change and initiate healing.” As examples, Michele brought attention to a number of Bess’s films, including “Ask Us Who We Are,” ” Journey into Courage,” and “Here Today.” Bess’ acknowledgment of the Cerf Medal award turned focus to the many collaborators and community members who have participated and supported her work.
Barbara Morrow, the immediate past chair of the Council, lauded Jody Fried’s spirited and inspiring work for the arts in the St. Johnsbury community saying, “Jody has collaboration in his bones. He is willing to take a risk to benefit not just Catamount, but the community. His leadership is inclusive and broadly welcoming.” Barbara also spoke specifically of Jody’s community-minded approach to his work, explaining, “Together with his board, he has created a community asset from the 20th century that fills out the jewels in our crown from the 19th century: The Athenaeum, the Fairbanks Museum, St J Academy….and Catamount Arts.”