Honorees to be Recognized at Americans for the Arts Convention in Boston

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, announced the recipients of the 2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards. These awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts. 
This year’s recipients are: 
  • Brad Erickson: Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
  • Flora Maria Garcia: Michael Newton Award
  • Barbara Goldstein: Public Art Network Award
  • Laura Perille: Arts Education Award
  • Michael Spring: Selina Roberts Ottum Award
  • Octavia Yearwood: American Express Emerging Leaders Award
“Our Leadership Award honorees have distinguished themselves as tremendous leaders and passionate advocates for the arts and arts education,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These leaders have implemented innovative and transformative programs to strengthen the communities they serve, and their unwavering commitment to local, state, and national support for the arts is deserving of this recognition.”
All of this year’s honorees are members of Americans for the Arts. They will be presented with their awards at the Americans for the Arts 2016 Annual Convention in Boston during on Friday, June 17, 2016 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. 
2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards Honorees
Brad Erickson, Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
Since 2007, the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award has honored an individual whose arts advocacy efforts have dramatically affected the political landscape at the state level. Brad Erickson serves as executive director for Theatre Bay Area, one of the nation’s largest regional performing arts service organizations, with more than 320 theatre and dance company members and some 2,200 individual members. For thirteen years, Erickson has led the organization’s efforts to support, promote, and advocate for the region’s vibrant theatre and dance community. Under Erickson’s leadership, Theatre Bay Area has gained a national reputation for innovative programs and services for the field, and their nationwide study on the intrinsic impact of the theatre experience on the audience is a leading example. For six years Erickson served as president of Californians for the Arts and California Arts Advocates. He currently serves as Treasurer of both CFTA and CAA and as California State Captain for Americans for the Arts, and is the past Chair of the State Arts Action Network. Also a playwright, Erickson’s plays have won several awards and have been produced in theaters from San Francisco to Indianapolis. Erickson received a BFA in acting from the Goodman School of Drama (now The Theatre School) at DePaul University. 
Flora Maria Garcia, Michael Newton Award
For the past 25 years, the Michael Newton Award has recognized exemplary leadership skills and extraordinary dedication to supporting the arts through a united arts fund, which is a combined effort to raise money on behalf of multiple arts institutions in the community, or through unique and powerful partnerships with the private sector. In 2012, Flora Maria Garcia became president and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida—a 501-C-3, $5.8 million, local arts agency for the four-county region and the City of Orlando. Since its inception in 1989, United Arts has invested more than $136 million in local cultural organizations and individual artists. Previously, Garcia was CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Coalition. During her tenure, statewide legislation that would significantly fund arts and culture was introduced and as result, received the Georgia Shakespeare, Spirit of Will Award for Advocacy. On the national level, Garcia has served on the boards of the National Assembly for Local Arts Agencies and Mid-America Arts Alliance, numerous committees for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and on several panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. She served for two years as Vice President of Americans for the Arts’ Urban Arts Federation, an association of the 60 largest arts councils in the country. In addition to more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit arts management, Garcia has a Master’s in Business Administration and Arts Administration from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Modern Languages from Saint Mary’s College. Garcia was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. in the early ‘60s.
Barbara Goldstein, Public Art Network Award
Given annually since 2003, the Public Art Network Award honors innovative contributions to, and exemplary commitment and leadership in, public art. Barbara Goldstein is an independent consultant focusing on creative placemaking and public art planning. She is the former Public Art Director for the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs and editor of Public Art by the Book, a primer published by Americans for the Arts and the University of Washington Press. Goldstein has directed the public art programs in Seattle and Los Angeles, worked as a cultural planner, architectural and art critic, editor and publisher. She has lectured and participated in workshops on public art in the United States, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, and Abu Dhabi. She is past chair of the Chair of the Public Art Network for Americans for the Arts. In 2015, Goldstein was a Fellow in Stanford University’s Distinguished Careers Institute where she also served as Scholar in Residence for the School of Chemical and Systems Biology. 
Laura Perille, Arts Education Award
Presented each year since 2007, the Arts Education Award honors the best in arts education program design, execution, and organizational leadership. Laura Perille is the CEO of EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit with the mission to increase the number of schools in Boston delivering dramatically improved educational outcomes for all students. Since its launch in 2002 under Perille’s leadership, EdVestors has raised and helped investors direct over $21 million in funds for urban school improvement through its School Solutions Seed Fund, the School on the Move Prize, and the Improving Schools Initiative. Prior to EdVestors, she led Perille Consulting Group and previously served as Director of Education for Crittenton Hastings House, Policy Analyst for Community Catalyst/Families USA, and Director of Programs for the Greater Boston Food Bank. A graduate of Brown University, Perille and her family live in Boston.
Michael Spring, Selina Roberts Ottum Award
Presented jointly by Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts for the past 26 years, the Selina Roberts Ottum Award recognizes outstanding contributions in the local arts agency field. As director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Michael Spring is responsible for supervision of a public arts agency with an annual budget of more than $33 million. In 2014, he was appointed to serve as a Senior Advisor for the County’s Cultural Affairs and Recreation portfolio, including oversight of the arts, parks and libraries. Over the more than thirty years that he has served the Department of Cultural Affairs, Spring has helped build Miami-Dade County’s cultural community into a more than a $1 billion annual industry comprised of more than 1,000 non-profit cultural groups and thousands of artists. Spring has a B.A. from the University of Miami and earned an M.A. in painting from New York University, involving studies in Venice, Italy. He continues to paint and develop his interests as a visual artist. 
Octavia Yearwood, American Express Emerging Leaders Award
Given annually since 2006 and sponsored by American Express since 2011, the American Express Emerging Leaders Award recognizes an exceptional new and/or young arts professional for their exemplary leadership, deep engagement with community, and strong commitment to advancing the arts. Octavia Yearwood is an arts educator and CEO/Director of Team Ohhh where she developed a dance enrichment program, The Team Ohhh Playbook, based on teamwork as the root and art as the vehicle for how people treat each other and themselves. After working with the Precious Dreams Foundation, Octavia became vocal about her childhood story through a motivational speaking performance, “Fostering a Voice.” Performed at the Center for Social Change and several events, it combines performance art, multimedia, and talk to share with young people how the arts helped her find voice and purpose. Octavia continues to spread her message through the arts and community building, but is also working on her first book, a guide to overcome adversity, center oneself, and manifest the life one deserves.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.
Inga Vitols