The Arts Awards recognize the accomplishments of creatives, arts and cultural organizations, and local individuals committed to enriching our community through the arts. All nominations were submitted through an open call for community members to submit nominations. The four award categories reflect the values of Spokane Arts: Leadership, Collaboration, Imagination and Inclusion. In each category, the nominated artists, volunteers, neighborhoods, educators, organizations, or community leaders were reviewed by a panel of Arts Commissioners and community arts representatives, and that panel selected the winners. The awards this year were custom-made by local artist Katie Creyts, who is an artist, art professor at Whitworth University, as well as an arts advocate. She works in a variety of mediums, including glass, which is what she used to craft this year’s awards. Each winner will receive a small, custom fused-glass art piece commemorating their award.
The Leadership nominees are an inspiring group that has led the way in forging new paths to keep the arts thriving through the challenges of the past year! All of the nominees have done amazing work to keep artists and creatives working, performing, and connecting throughout the challenges of the past 18 months. Selected as the winner of the Leadership Award, Inland Northwest Opera led that charge on a state and regional level. INO was a key advocate for performing arts in Washington state, petitioning Governor Inslee to find ways to include performing arts in re-opening plans. INO also worked quickly and tirelessly to find new creative ways to safely bring music to the region. Starting with Opera Grams in the summer of 2020, they spent 2021 building an Opera Truck to serve as a mobile concert stage and hosted free performances in parks and in neighborhoods. As INO’s general and artistic director Dawn Wolski says in the Leadership Nominee video, “Our mission is to bring beauty and joy and incredible music to the entire Northwest, so how we did that changed a bit but why we do it and what we’re doing hasn’t changed at all. When people couldn’t come to us in the theaters, we came to them.”
Inclusion nominees include several new projects and faces that will surely continue to shape the arts in Spokane in exciting ways, including the youngest Arts Awards nominee to date, 12-year-old artist Sindhu Surapaneni whose artwork and the online art classes she teaches for other young artists focus on celebrating diversity and creating inclusive spaces. The winner of the Inclusion category, Stage Left Theater, has been a valuable part of Spokane’s theater community for a decade, but recently took impressive strides in building a truly inclusive theater, under the leadership of executive director Jeremy Whittington, including new creative collaborations and a focusing on sharing new and undertold stories. Stage Left pivoted quickly in 2020 to create performances that could be livestreamed, focusing on one-person shows and other creative projects that could be successful within changing COVID-19 related restrictions. As one nominator wrote, “The constant creation of online productions during the pandemic reached thousands of people who had been confined to their homes, bringing art and joy into the lonely seclusion of the past year. Truly, this little theater included everyone at a time when everyone felt cut off and alone.”
Collaboration nominees include a neighborhood business district, a small business, a community theater group, a pair of collaborative painters, and the winner of the category, Darrien Mack, whose own creative practice spans an impressive range of mediums. Darrien Mack is a filmmaker, a dancer, a DJ, a storyteller, and designer. As one nominator wrote, Darrien is a “multi-disciplinary creative with a strong commitment to his own unique aesthetic, always holding every project to the highest quality standards.” His work at CMTV as well as his frequent collaborations with local community groups and artists means that he is behind the scenes of many great Spokane projects.
In a category full of artists creating exciting new work in a variety of disciplines, the Imagination Award is being given to writer Kate Lebo, whose Book of Difficult Fruit, a collection of essays with recipes, is the latest product of her creative mind. A writer, a cook, and a cooking teacher, Kate’s work is united by her unending curiosity to explore the connections that food helps create and support. As one nominator wrote, “Her blending of personal essay, natural history, folklore, and functional recipes was like nothing I’ve ever read before. Kate has been a vibrant part of Spokane’s literary (and culinary!) scene for many years, and it’s exciting to see her reach the next level in imagination and creativity with her new book.”
2021 Karen Mobley Impact Award Winner
Congratulations to Don Hamilton of Hamilton Studios, the 2021 recipient of the Karen Mobley Impact Award! From stage, to photography, to film, Don’s creative background and passion for the arts has imbued his decades of work in the Spokane community with nothing less than love. His generosity has supported area organizations and creatives for years and his impact on the local community is impossible to measure. Here are just a few of the many voices joining us in thanking Don for his decades of work!
“His creativity and commitment are stamped firmly on Spokane’s arts community.” – Annie Matlow
“Don Hamilton has always been focused on being an artist first and facilitating environments for other artists. The artistic impulse is always his driving force, before any other considerations. That makes him a thrilling and inspiring person to work with and for.” – Michael Weaver
“Don Hamilton is amazing and supports organizations big and small at no cost or very little. Don is a community treasure.” – Ben Stuckart
“Don’s studio has always had an open-door policy to young and upcoming filmmakers of the community, sharing his knowledge and resources for locally created projects. He has always been a believer that by supporting these young filmmakers he is planting seeds for the growth of the professional video industry in Spokane.” – Juan Mas
“He has just always been so generous with his resources, time, and talent to help uplift other artists. In both theater and film, I’ve experienced his generosity firsthand. He is truly a gift to our community and worthy of this award.” -Rebecca Cook
Congratulations to the 2021 Arts Awards Leadership nominees!
This inspiring group has led the way in forging new paths to keep the arts thriving through the challenges of the past year! Spokane Arts is excited to honor these community-nominated artists, organizations, and arts advocates. Learn more about each nominee in this beautiful video from Rogue Heart Media.
Congratulations to the 2021 Arts Awards Inclusion nominees!
This amazing group has created new and exciting opportunities for connection and made spaces for often unheard voices to be heard. Spokane Arts is excited to honor these community-nominated artists, organizations, and arts advocates. Learn more about each nominee in this beautiful video from Rogue Heart Media.
Luis Mota & Norman Robbins of The Palimpsest Group
Congratulations to the 2021 Arts Awards Imagination nominees!
This creative group has kept us captivated with their big ideas and beautiful work! Spokane Arts is excited to honor these community-nominated artists, organizations, and arts advocates. Learn more about each nominee in this beautiful video from Rogue Heart Media.
Congratulations to the 2021 Arts Awards Collaboration nominees!
This brilliant group has not only filled the past year with creative work but shown us new ways to connect in our community! Spokane Arts is excited to honor these community-nominated artists, organizations, and arts advocates.