The NASAA awards program showcases best practices of state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, recognizes exemplary leadership, and demonstrates how government creatively, effectively and efficiently serves the public through the arts.

NASAA congratulates and thanks this year's recipients for their outstanding leadership and contributions to the field. All three awards will be presented October 15 at Assembly 2010 in Austin, Texas.

Gary Young Award

Arni Fishbaugh

Arlynn (Arni) Fishbaugh, executive director of the Montana Arts Council, is the recipient of NASAA's 2010 Gary Young Award for her exemplary leadership, innovative thinking, and extraordinary contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels.

Under Fishbaugh's leadership, the Montana Arts Council's work has become a model for the state arts agency field. She is highly regarded for developing a successful campaign to promote the public value of the arts. Fishbaugh organized this effort around the theme of "The Three Rs: Relevance, Relationships and Return on Investment." Through this framework, the agency effectively illustrates its public value and generates arts advocates statewide and nationally. Because of its success, this strategy has been replicated and promoted by other states, regional service organizations and NASAA.

Fishbaugh's career has centered in the field of arts marketing, having held positions at the Guthrie Theatre, the Houston Grand Opera's Texas Opera Theater, the Metropolitan Opera and the National Video Corporation. She has been a frequent speaker on arts marketing and tour marketing at colleges, universities, and state and regional arts agencies. She has served on National Endowment for the Arts panels and on the board of trustees for the Western States Arts Federation. She currently serves as vice chair of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and is 1st vice president of NASAA. She recently was elected to the board of Grantmakers in the Arts.

Distinguished Public Service Award

Lu Ellsworth

Lu Ellsworth, former chair, Virginia Commission for the Arts, is the recipient of NASAA's 2010 Distinguished Public Service Award. The award honors a volunteer leader whose outstanding service and leadership have had a significant impact on public support for the arts in his or her state and across the country.

Ellsworth was appointed to the Virginia Commission for the Arts in 2001 and served as chair from 2003-2009, and has been passionate about ensuring that all Virginians have access to high-quality arts experiences throughout their lives. Under his leadership, the Commission reached its largest state appropriation in history. He helped the Commission maintain bipartisan support with policymakers, establish the Virginia Heritage Awards, and create MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts, an initiative to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of the arts across the state.

A tireless arts advocate, Ellsworth has served on the board of Virginians for the Arts for almost 20 years, including two as president. He holds leadership positions with the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, Symphony of the Mountains, Pro-Art, Inc., Community Arts Council of Buchanan County and Virginians for the Arts Foundation.

As a member of NASAA's Executive Committee, Ellsworth worked to significantly increase National Endowment for the Arts funding to the arts nationwide and to NASAA. He served six years on the NASAA board and four years on its Executive Committee, and remains active on numerous NASAA committees and task forces. Ellsworth is a champion of chairs and council members and has helped NASAA engage this group in national issues.

A historian, Ellsworth lives in the heart of Appalachia in Wise, Virginia, with his wife, Phyllis Hatcher. He has been a college professor and administrator and is the retired president of the Appalachian School of Law. In addition to his volunteer work in the arts, Ellsworth is active in the Methodist Church and in Hospice of Virginia.

North Carolina  Arts Council

National Accessibility Leadership Award

The North Carolina Arts Council is the recipient of the 2010 National Accessibility Leadership Award, presented by NASAA in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The award recognizes the Council for its exceptional leadership in making the arts fully available to people with disabilities, older adults, and people in health care environments.

Beginning in 2006, the North Carolina Arts Council organized a team of four staff members who are dedicated to increasing access to the arts through strategic partnerships, planning, assessments and marketing, which has resulted in a variety of highly effective initiatives.

Partnering with Arts Access, a Raleigh-based accessibility service organization, the Arts Council worked to expand the organization's capacity from a local service provider to a statewide resource. This collaboration included a series of regional access workshops and site evaluations for arts groups around the state. Since then, Arts Access has conducted more than 350 needs assessments to determine where technical assistance and resources are required for increased accessibility.

The Arts Council implemented an awareness-building and technical assistance campaign for cultural providers in North Carolina. This included a new Arts Inclusion section for its website and a checklist that is a required component of every grant application submitted to the Arts Council.

The Arts Council collaborated with the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services to reshape the Division's on-line and print tourism guide, ACCESS North Carolina, and include arts organizations in its listings.

The Arts Council is partnering with the Center for Creative Aging-North Carolina to involve older adults in the arts as creators themselves, and has an ongoing role as funder and collaborator of arts in health care programming across the state.

NASAA's mission is to strengthen state arts agencies.
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