Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award

The Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award was created in 2006 to honor an individual at the state level who has dramatically affected the political landscape through their arts advocacy efforts. This award is presented annually at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention to an individual who may be an artist, associated with a local arts agency, a local arts organization, or a statewide arts organization. The award honors its namesake, Alene Valkanas, who retired after 20-plus years of tireless work as the executive director of the Illinois Arts Alliance (now Arts Alliance Illinois).


When submitting your nomination, please address the following points in your Statement of Nomination:

  1. The nominee has demonstrated sustained effort.
  2. The nominee has proven results.
  3. The nominee's work should include novel, creative and innovative concepts.
  4. The nominee's work is reproducible by others.

Submit a Nomination

Nominations Close at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 8, 2022.

Emerging Leader Award

Since 2006, Americans for the Arts has awarded the Emerging Leader Award to an exceptional young arts professional who demonstrates exemplary leadership and a commitment to advancing the arts in their local, state, or national communities.

We are pleased to announce that the American Express Foundation is sponsoring the 2022 Emerging Leader Award. The recipient will receive a $2,500 honorarium.

The 2022 American Express Emerging Leader Award will be awarded to an individual who demonstrates visionary leadership expressed through an ability to imagine what the arts community could look like and the steps for getting there; effective leadership that leads to impact within the community; authentic leadership that shows a strong sense of purpose, as well as true engagement with the community; and transformational leadership inspired by innovative thinking and a willingness to take risks to achieve results.


Nominees must be either 35 years or younger or have been in the field for five years or less.

Nominators must be current Americans for the Arts Members.

When submitting a nomination, please address the following in the Statement of Nomination:

  • How has the nominee impacted the local, state, and/or national community they are involved with?
  • How has the nominee shown a strong sense of purpose and how do they use this to engage their community?
  • How has the nominee demonstrated innovative thinking and risk-taking to achieve results?
  • What is the nominee’s vision for arts and culture in their community and how are they realizing this goal?

Submit a Nomination

Nominations Close at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 8, 2022.

Selina Roberts Ottum Award for Local Arts Leadership

The Selina Roberts Ottum Award recognizes outstanding contributions in the local arts agency field. The award honors individuals working in the arts and in arts management who have made a meaningful contribution to their local communities, and who exemplify those leadership qualities that made Selina so special.

The Selina Roberts Ottum Award celebrates and commemorates the life of someone very dear to the arts community in the United States. Selina served as president of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies from 1984 to 1986 and as a board member from 1983 to 1988. She also served as executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Commission in Portland, OR, (now the Regional Arts & Culture Council) and deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Selina’s leadership skills were accompanied by her straightforwardness, humor, honesty, caring, and ability to bring people together. Her work was always important to her, but making the community a better place to live was most essential. To encourage these qualities in those working in the arts, an endowment fund was established to create an annual award in her honor.

Submit a Nomination

Nominations Close at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 8, 2022.

View the list of Ottum Fund Endowment contributors.