STAUNTON, VA – October 25, 2017 – From an original pool of over 350 nominees, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the state arts agency, has selected the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) to receive one of its prestigious “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” in the category of Bedrock Institutions.  

The “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” were conceived and designed by the Commission as a 50th anniversary tribute to 50 examples of programs, individuals, and organizations critical to the arts in Virginia. The designated “Arts Inspirations” may have played a critical role in the last 50 years, serve as today’s leaders and exemplars, or may be tomorrow’s visionaries, leading the way to a culturally vibrant future. The Commission was established by law in 1968 to promote awareness of and access to the arts across the state and to support a broad range of artists, arts organizations, and arts educators.

Following a statewide call for nominations, nominees for the awards in all categories were accepted for two months this spring. A panel comprised of former commissioners and arts leaders reviewed the nominations this past summer and recommended a slate to the full Board which adopted the final roster this fall. To ensure impartiality, no former commissioners and no state-elected officials were selected for the roster.

Winners in the Bedrock Institutions category have been in existence more than ten years, demonstrated a benefit to the economic health and or tourism in the community, exhibit artistic excellence, celebrate diversity, and showcase Virginia as a cultural destination.

“We are indeed fortunate in Virginia to have an abundant and diverse roster of outstanding artists and organizations and their supporters spanning disciplines and decades”, said Margaret Vanderhye, the Commission’s executive director. “The 50 selected winners are representative of the best, but this list is far from definitive. Every day in communities across the Commonwealth, thousands of people benefit from the creative energies and pursuit of excellence that characterize Virginia artists and arts organizations”, she concluded.

“These awardees carry the banner for countless arts workers and supporters who use the arts to build a strong Virginia,” said VCA Commissioner and 50th Anniversary Co-Chair Jo Hodgin (Annandale). “We believe the arts are essential for a creative 21st century workforce, economically dynamic communities, and a culture based on wellness and accessibility.”

“Being selected as a Bedrock Institution alongside organizations such as Signature Theatre and Virginia Repertory is an honor,” said ASC Managing Director Amy Wratchford. “We have been proud to play a part in the incredible artistic landscape of the Commonwealth for 29 years through touring, educational programming, and performances at the Blackfriars Playhouse. With the cultural vibrancy of Staunton as our foundation, we are excited to see where new initiatives like the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries competition will take us next.”

Award recipients were honored October 24 with other state arts leaders and supporters at a special reception this fall for a Celebration of the Arts at the Executive Mansion with Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. the Commission will hold a 50th Anniversary Program for arts organizations across the state at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. That afternoon the ASC will be officially recognized and for its achievements. A reception will follow in the Marble Hall.