Honorees to be Recognized on June 17 in San Francisco

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, announced the recipients of the 2017 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: 
  • Cath Brunner: Public Art Network Award
  • Guillermina Gonzalez: Michael Newton Award
  • Sarah Johnson: Arts Education Award
  • John Schratwieser: Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
  • Kevin Seaman: American Express Emerging Leaders Award
  • Laura Zucker: Selina Roberts Ottum Award
“These tremendous leaders have distinguished themselves as passionate advocates for the arts and arts education,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “They 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.”
The awards will be presented at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in San Francisco on Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 
2017 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards Honorees
Cath Brunner, Public Art Network Award
Given annually since 2003, the Public Art Network Award recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrates innovative contributions and/or exemplary commitment to the field of public art. Cath Brunner is the director of public art at 4Culture—the cultural services agency for King County, Washington—where she has brought over 25 years of experience as a built environment innovator, managing large-scale integrated public art projects, and acting as a project manager for 4Culture projects including Harborview Medical Center and Brightwater, a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant and public park. Brunner has supported the growth of 4Culture’s program from a staff of one to six and expanded its scope to include international consulting engagements. In 4Culture’s consulting practice, Brunner works with government agencies, private developers, and elected officials to create art plans, scope artwork, select artists, and implement public art projects throughout the region. Brunner received her BFA in Sculpture from Miami University. She is a member of Americans for the Arts. 
Guillermina Gonzalez, Michael Newton Award
The Michael Newton Award, presented by the Americans for the Arts’ Private Sector Network, is given annually in recognition and honor of an individual for his or her innovation in developing arts and business partnerships for the arts and/or long-term achievement in effective and creative techniques to engage the private sector. Dr. Guillermina Gonzalez is a multicultural professional with experience in the United States, Mexico, and Europe as an executive in both the corporate and the nonprofit sectors. Dr. Gonzalez was appointed Delaware Arts Alliance (DAA)’s first executive director in January 2010. Through her work, DAA helped double the state arts budget since 2014, making Delaware third in the nation in state arts funding. DAA has quadrupled its individual membership and increased its institutional support, while doubling its funding base in three years. Dr. Gonzalez has also expanded DAA’s outreach by making social media part of the organization’s effort. Dr. Gonazalez is a member of Americans for the Arts. 
Sarah Johnson, Arts Education Award
Presented each year since 2007, the Arts Education Award honors transformational leadership in arts education through strategic planning, programming, and partnerships to achieve community goals. Sarah Johnson is the executive director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. In her ten years at Carnegie Hall, she has doubled the budget to over $12 million, tripled the size of the staff (more than quadrupling its diversity), and increased the program contact reach fivefold. Johnson launched the first national youth orchestra in U.S. history—NYO-USA—which gathers and trains American music students and takes them on a high-level international tour every year. She followed this with the launch of NYO2—the first national orchestra for underserved students, fast-tracking their preparation for conservatories and major opportunities. Johnson also recently launched the nation’s most ambitious arts-in-corrections programs, in juvenile corrections. A graduate from the Juilliard School, Johnson received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in oboe performance. She is a member of Americans for the Arts. 
John Schratwieser, 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. John Schratwieser serves as director of the Kent County Arts Council, where he has launched ARTikultur-MD, an artist residency program and facility, the first of its kind in Maryland. It will serve as a space for citizen artists to create cross disciplinary works as arts-based solutions for civic and social challenges. Schratwieser is the former director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) where, for seven years, he led the state’s efforts to secure strong, consistent public funding for the arts; an effort that, with the help of hundreds of organizations and thousands of advocates, increased state funding for the arts by nearly 50 percent since the depth of the 2008 recession. Schratwieser received a B.A. from Fairfield University and an M.P.A. from The George Washington University. 
Kevin Seaman, American Express Emerging Leader Award
Given annually since 2006 and sponsored by American Express since 2011, the American Express Emerging Leader Award recognizes visionary leadership by a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact his or her community. Kevin Seaman is an artist, curator, and consultant of Bring Your Own Queer (BYOQ), a San Francisco-based community arts organization that fosters greater understanding between disparate segments of the LGBTQ community and its allies. He was named one of SF Weekly’s “16 Artists to Watch in 2016” and is currently an Association for Performing Arts Presenters’ Leadership Fellow. Seaman has been commissioned by RADAR Productions and THEOFFCENTER, been in residence with SAFEhouse Arts and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and has received grants from the Endeavor Foundation for the Arts and San Francisco Arts Commission. He has performed and exhibited at artistic venues including Brava, CounterPULSE, de Young Museum, The LAB, Intersection for the Arts, and Victoria Theater (Frameline35).
Laura Zucker, Selina Roberts Ottum Award
Presented jointly by Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts for the past 27 years, the Selina Roberts Ottum Award recognizes an individual working in arts management who has made a meaningful contribution to his or her local community and who exemplifies extraordinary leadership qualities. Laura Zucker is executive director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, where her efforts resulted in the ten-fold growth of the County’s organizational grant program, which currently funds close to 400 nonprofit arts organizations through a two-year $9 million grant program. Zucker was instrumental in the adoption of the County’s civic art policy in 2005, and since then more than 40 civic art projects have been completed and another 40 commissions are underway. She led the creation of Arts for All, the initiative dedicated to restoring arts education for all public-school students, and spearheaded the creation of the arts internship program for undergraduates. She has executive produced the LA County Holiday Celebration broadcast on public television, and led the revitalization of the John Anson Ford Theatres over more than two decades. Zucker received a B.A. in English from Barnard College and attended the Yale School of Drama. She is a member of Americans for the Arts. 
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 55 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