Vermont Arts Council

Governor’s Arts Awards

Francois Clemmons at the 2019 Vermont Arts Awards.
Jerry Williams and Chris Miller with their Governor's Awards in 2018
Sculptors Jerry Williams and Chris Miller received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2018.

Since 1967, the Vermont Arts Council, in association with the governor’s office, recognizes outstanding individual and organizational contributions to the arts in Vermont with a variety of awards. The Governor’s Arts Awards are a biennial event, although nominations for the awards are accepted year round. Nominations are reviewed by an outside panel. Awards are presented at a public ceremony, providing an opportunity for the recipient to be honored by colleagues, friends, family, and the wider Vermont community.

Recipients: 2023, 202220212020

For award recipients before 2020, please visit the pages for each individual award.

The Awards

Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

This award is the most distinguished recognition bestowed by the State of Vermont. Accordingly, it is reserved for Vermont artists who have had a profound impact on their field within the state of Vermont and beyond. The governor selects the recipient from a list of nominations compiled from across the state and vetted by the Arts Council.

The award is given to a person (or persons) of distinction in the arts according to the criteria for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Read more and view past recipients.

Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts

The Walter Cerf Medal is presented to individuals who have made a sustained contribution to the arts and have had an impact on Vermont’s cultural life. The award is named in honor of the late philanthropist Walter Cerf whose generous gifts, exceeding $5 million, have benefited numerous Vermont institutions including the Arts Council. Mr. Cerf was instrumental in establishing the Arts Endowment at the Vermont Community Foundation, and his contributions have created a $1 million fund to assist Vermont’s artists and arts organizations.

Selected by the Council, the medals may be awarded to artists of renown or to those in a closely related field, such as philanthropy, administration, production, education, advocacy, or mentoring, according to the criteria for the Cerf Medal. Read more and view past recipients.

Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education

This award is presented to individuals who have made a sustained contribution to learning in and through the arts and/or have had a positive impact on the quality of education in Vermont. The award is named in honor of Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, former executive director of the Vermont Arts Council and president of Marlboro College. Recognition may be for work done on the local, statewide or national level, and is expected to focus on, but not be limited to activities related to pre-K through 12 education.

Selected by the Council, the award may be given to arts educators, professional teaching artists, teachers, or administrators and others whose work has substantially improved student engagement in and knowledge of the arts, according to the criteria for the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award. Read more and view past recipients.

Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy

This award is presented to an individual who has an established and well-deserved reputation in Vermont as an advocate for the arts and their impact on Vermont. The award is named in honor of former Council chair and artist Peggy Kannenstine whose spirited work on behalf of the arts has benefited numerous Vermont institutions including the Arts Council. Recognition may be for work done at the local, state, or national level.

Selected by the Council, the award may be given to Vermonters committed to furthering the arts in fields such as accessibility, administration, education, mentoring, philanthropy, production, wellness, and others according to the award criteria for the Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy. Read more and view past recipients.

Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts

The award (formerly the Citation of Merit Award) is named after the Council’s founding executive director, Arthur Williams. In addition to his critical work at the Arts Council, Williams’ long career included public school teaching, serving in the Vermont Legislature, and chairing the effort to restore the Vermont State House. The award is given to those who mirror his selfless public service and devotion to artistic excellence as one vital ingredient in a robust community as well as his desire to see the arts thrive.

Selected by the staff of the Vermont Arts Council, this award is given to a person or organization for meritorious service to the arts in Vermont, according to the criteria for the Arthur Williams Award. Read more and view past recipients.

Submit a Nomination

The next Vermont Arts Awards will be held in fall 2025. To be considered for the 2025 awards, candidate names must have been submitted by May 1, 2025.

Recipients are chosen by an external panel, except for the Arthur Williams Award, which is selected by the Arts Council staff.

Arts Council board and staff are not eligible.

Awards are bestowed on living persons; there are no posthumous awards. Also please be sure to check that your nominee is not a past recipient.

To nominate a Vermont artist or cultural organization, please carefully review the criteria for each award.

To nominate a Vermont artist or cultural organization:

  • complete this online form or
  • send an email to the Council with “Award Nomination” in the subject line. Include your name and contact information; the nominee’s name and contact info; and the award that you are nominating them for. Also list three to five achievements, based on awards criteria, that qualify this nominee for the award and provide one to three links to information about the nominee that support this nomination.

Occasionally, people or companies worthy of recognition by the Council do not fit comfortably into one of these categories. Parties interested in nominating such an individual or business should still use the form and make the case for recognition.

Please note that the number of nominations an individual or organization receives has no bearing on the choice of recipient.

admin-place August 8, 2014