Arts, Business, Education Luncheon honors community members

April 16, 2014 Updated: April 16, 2014 at 7:57 pm
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The 35th annual Arts, Business, Education Luncheon brought together a slew of both familiar and new faces on Wednesday to honor those who have contributed to the arts in Colorado Springs.

"I look around the room, and I see people with a passion for art and a passion for kids," said master of ceremonies Glenn Strebe, president and CEO of Air Academy Federal Credit Union.

The city's art scene is one of its best assets, said regular attendee Mary Ellen McNally, arts advocate and former city council member.

"It's very strong," she said. "Every organization is being supported, and it's amazing how the arts have taken hold and become a leader."

Keynote speaker Connie Stewart, visual arts associate professor at University of Northern Colorado and executive director of The Center for Integrated Arts Education, kicked off the awards with a slideshow presention: "Colorado Springs - Together Through the Arts."

"In times of loss and fear, we can turn to the arts to find strength," she said.

Winners included Daisy McConnell, director of Gallery of Contemporary Art at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who was presented with the Bee Vradenburg Foundation's Bee an Arts Champion award.

"Under her directorship, the gallery has expanded to a downtown gallery and increased audience size by 25 percent annually," the Vradenburg foundation program said.

The foundation also posthumously honored Colorado Springs Philharmonic Maestro Lawrence Leighton Smith, who died last year.

Visual arts teacher Vanessa Scott won the Unique Project award for inspiring her eighth grade Eagle View Middle School students in the making of art installations around the school. She also took students on a walking trip through areas affected by the Waldo Canyon fire in order to create charcoal drawings for auction.

Fifteen elementary, middle and junior high students won Mary Lou Anderson Scholarships, providing them with exposure to dance, theater and other arts.

Other awards included:

- Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards: Arts Opportunities - Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association; Youth Recognition - Jay Patel and Sourabh Basak; Arts Advocacy - Beth Carlson

- Distinguished Administrator: Jim Smith, principal, Eagleview Middle School, Academy School District 20

- Distinguished Arts Teacher: Jeff Brown, artist in residence, Fountain Valley School of Colorado

- Ongoing Support for the Arts: Ruthi Manning-Freeman, assistant director, Talented and Gifted Program, Academy School District 20

- Business Support: Mary Ciletti, Hooked on Books bookstore

- Community Support for Arts Education: Imagination Celebration, What If Festival, coordinators Deborah Thornton and Dan Wecks

- Colorado Springs Business Journal Award: Mike Jorgenson, Red Noland Auto Group (Cadillac, Infinity, Range Rover and Collision Center)

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