CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Ten members of the West Virginia Legislature received Legislative Leadership awards for their significant contributions in the arts at the Governor’s Arts Awards gala on Thursday, March 13 at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The event was hosted by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Del. John D. O’Neal IV, R-Raleigh, and Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, were presented with Arts in Education Awards. O’Neal, a resident of Beckley, was recognized for his support of the statewide VH1 Save The Music Foundation program, which started in his district, putting musical instruments at Shady Spring Middle School, and his advocacy for Theatre West Virginia and the Southern West Virginia Youth Museum. Sypolt, a resident of Kingwood, also is a strong supporter of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation as well as Arthurdale, the first New Deal planned subsistence homestead community founded by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression, and the Tucker County Opera House, a historic vaudeville and movie theater building built in 1902 in Thomas.

Del. Carol Miller, R-Cabell, and Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, received Community Arts Awards. Miller of Huntington has been a driving force for community support and funding for the Huntington Museum of Art, restoration of the historic Keith Albee Theater and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Fitzsimmons of Wheeling has been a strong supporter for the restoration of West Virginia Independence Hall, birthplace of West Virginia statehood; The Capitol Theatre, also known as the Capitol Music Hall, is a landmark building in the national historic district of downtown Wheeling; and the development of the Brooke County Museum in Wellsburg.

Del. Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, and Sen. Ronald F. Miller, D-Greenbrier were recognized with Cultural Facilities Awards. Craig, a resident of Huntington, is a strong supporter of the restoration and maintenance of the Keith Albee Theater and the Huntington Museum of Art, and advocates for the Huntington Symphony and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Miller, a resident of Lewisburg, has long supported art venues like the Greenbrier Valley Theatre and Carnegie Hall and their cultural impact on the community, as well as new organizations like the Fayetteville Art Coalition.

Del. Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, were presented with Folk Arts Awards. Storch of Wheeling was recognized for her strong support of the historic sites of Capitol Theatre and West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling and Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville. Boley of St. Marys actively works to ensure the Parkersburg Arts Center and Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park have funding to continue promoting and preserving the arts in the Ohio River Valley and supports the North Bend State Park artists program.

Del. Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, and Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Skinner, a resident of Shepherdstown, is well-known throughout the Eastern Panhandle for his involvement with the Contemporary American Arts Theater Festival and other art activities, advocates for the Future Fund legislation and supported the division’s presentation of the West Virginia Juried Exhibition (WVJE) in Martinsburg last year. Snyder, a resident of Shenandoah Junction, has actively supported projects such as the restoration of the Roundhouse in Martinsburg, promoted local community arts organizations and the WVJE in Martinsburg.

Other awards presented at the Governor’s Arts Awards gala include the Distinguished Service to the Arts Awards to Carnegie Hall, performance hall in Lewisburg, and John Gillispie, director of public relations for the Huntington Museum of Art; Leadership in the Arts Awards to the Community Music Association in Charleston, celebrating 80 years of bringing national and international entertainment to West Virginia and Susan Adkins, executive director of Carnegie Hall; Arts in Education Awards to Clay Center Explore and Soar 21st Century Community Learning Center in Charleston, which uses STEAM education to improve grades, and Sandy Shaw of Beckley, visual art teacher for 34 years; Artist of the Year Awards to Barrie Kaufman of Charleston, artist, art teacher and art therapist, and Nina Denton Pasinetti of Charleston, dance instructor and artistic director of the Charleston Light Opera Guild; and Lifetime Achievement Awards to Cathey Sawyer of Lewisburg, artistic director of the Greenbrier Valley Theatre, and Don Page (posthumous award), who devoted more than 50 years of his life promoting and developing arts and crafts in West Virginia.

For more information about the Legislative Leadership Awards, contact Renée Margocee, director of arts for the division, at (304) 558-0240.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Media Note: Photos of the Governor’s Arts Awards gala are available from our website at