CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Wednesday, March 4, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History (WVDACH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts sponsored the Governor’s Arts Awards at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. During the awards ceremony, nine Governor’s Arts Awards and 10 Legislative Leadership Awards in the Arts were presented. The 6 p.m. program included performances by Barbara Nissman on piano, The Mountain Stage Band, Kari Stafford Blankenship on vocals, Caden Glover on banjo, Liam Farley on fiddle and The Capital High School VIP Show Choir. Award recipients are listed below.

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented biennially to celebrate the state’s creative spirit and the amazing talents of the people and groups that produce art. They also recognize those whose willingness to support arts and artists help to ensure that the arts maintain an important place in our communities and schools. Matt Thomas, West Virginia artist, was commissioned by the WVDACH to make the awards, blending the timeless grain of wood with the permanence of hand-forged steel.

The Governor’s Arts Awards include Arts in Education Award, which recognizes efforts to strengthen arts education in public schools; Susan S. Landis Distinguished Service Award to the Arts, which recognizes individuals and organizations of exceptional talent and creativity that have fostered growth and influenced trends and aesthetic practices on a state and national level; Leadership in the Arts Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and access to the arts throughout the state; Artist of the Year and Arts Organization of the Year Award, which recognizes an individual artist and an organization who has impacted the exposure to the arts in West Virginia through his or her work; and the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, which recognizes an individual or organization for significant achievement in the arts.

The Legislative Leadership in the Arts Awards include Arts in Education Awards, Community Arts Awards, Cultural Facilities Awards, Folk Arts and Lifetime Achievement, which are presented to those members of the Legislature who have made significant contributions in the arts.

A panel of members from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and staff of the Department of Arts, Culture and History selected winners who were nominated based on the magnitude of their contributions and achievements, the range of individuals or groups served, the length of time and intensity of their dedication to the arts and their level of excellence.


Lifetime Achievement
Dr. Barbara Nissman, Lewisburg, Greenbrier County

Artist of the Year
Charly Jupiter Hamilton, Charleston, Kanawha County

Arts Organization of the Year
The River House, Capon Bridge, Hampshire County

Arts in Education
Individual – Michael McKowen, Wheeling, Ohio County
Organization – Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, Martinsburg, Berkeley County

Leadership in the Arts
Individual – Josh Baldwin, Lewisburg, Greenbrier County
Organization – Marshall Artists Series, Huntington, Cabell County

Susan S. Landis Distinguished Service to the Arts
Individual – Jeff Pierson, Charleston, Kanawha County
Organization – Oglebay Institute, Wheeling, Ohio County


Arts in Education
Senator Patricia Rucker
Delegate Jeff Campbell

Community Arts
Senator Bill Hamilton
Delegate Vernon Criss

Cultural Facilities
Senator Glenn Jeffries
Delegate Daniel Linville

Folk Arts
Senator Mark Maynard
Delegate Mike Pushkin

Lifetime Achievement
Senator Roman Prezioso
Delegate Erikka Storch

MEDIA NOTE: Photos from the event can be found at
Photo Credit: Stephen Brightwell, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History

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