WASHINGTON, DC, January 24, 2020—Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors today presented the 2020 Public Leadership in the Arts Awards to three elected officials at The U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. The honorees have supported and promoted arts and culture in their communities, and include:
• Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, was awarded the National Award for State Arts Leadership;
• Becky Ames, Mayor of Beaumont, Texas, received the National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities with a population of 100,000 or more;
• Jill Techel, Mayor of Napa, California, was awarded the National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities with a population fewer than 100,000.
“Governor Inslee, Mayor Ames, and Mayor Techel have each demonstrated ongoing dedication to the development and support of arts and arts education programming. Their vision and commitment to supporting creativity has played a vital role in enriching the lives of citizens of all ages and backgrounds. Their cultural leadership as elected officials has contributed enormously to our country’s artistic and cultural vibrancy. I applaud them each for their accomplishments and commitment worthy of this recognition,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts.
“The U.S. Conference of Mayors is pleased to recognize the exemplary work of Mayor Ames, Mayor Techel, and Governor Inslee as they use the arts and culture to not only promote their city/state, but to grow their economies,” remarked Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayors understand the inherent value of the arts to bring people together, promote cultural understanding, and make cities safer places to live, work, and play.”
About the 2020 Public Leadership in the Arts Awardees
Governor Jay Inslee
During his long career in politics that started in the 1990s and extends through today, Governor Inslee has been clear in his love and respect for the arts. This extends to support of his state Arts Commission, ArtsWA, and arts education. At a 2018 meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), he unveiled his painting, “Bear in the Woods” and announced that he was going to auction it off to support arts education programming at Americans for the Arts. He also understands the importance of ArtsWA grants investment programs and their impact. Governor Inslee was an early supporter of Washington’s proposed Creative District Certification program and was pleased to sign House Bill 1183 into law in 2017. The program leverages arts and culture to generate economic activity in local communities. Governor Inslee has carried the positive messages of the arts nationally to other governors by facilitating sessions on the arts and culture at NGA meetings. From the arts as an economic engine to understanding the importance of arts education as integral to the development of 21st century skills, he is a strong champion of the arts and culture. Last fall, Governor Inslee paired up with former Washington State House Speaker and Tacoma Mayor Brian Ebersole for “Nonp(art)isan” at MU Gallery in downtown Tacoma, in which they each showcased 15 works of art.
Governor Inslee commented, “I’m proud to be the governor of a state that celebrates the arts and all they bring to our communities. From our education system to our local economies, every part of Washington benefits. As the brother and brother-in-law of retired art teachers and a lifelong artist myself, I am particularly honored by this recognition.”
Mayor Becky Ames
Mayor Ames has supported the funding, operations, and maintenance of historical and cultural assets owned by the City of Beaumont, including the Jefferson Theatre, The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and the Julie Rogers Theatre, which is home to the Symphony of Southeast Texas, as well as presentations by the Beaumont Civic Opera, Beaumont Civic Ballet, and Beaumont Ballet Theatre. The theater has become the cornerstone of entertainment in downtown Beaumont. Mayor Ames supported and approved the creative use of the Hotel Occupancy Taxes to commission local artists for murals in downtown Beaumont by way of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and local nonprofit The Art Studio, Inc. Further, she has allocated Community Block Grant funding to local theater programs for low to moderate income youth, teens, and adults the Jonathan Williams Center for Performing Arts. At the street corner level, she supported an initiative for a beautification project to engage local artists to paint traffic control boxes throughout the City of Beaumont in 2018. She has lent support and funding to the Cultural Arts District Designation Application, which was recently awarded and presented by the Texas Commission on the Arts to the Downtown Beaumont Cultural Arts District. At the national level, she has served for more than 12 years on the USCM’s Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee.
Mayor Ames commented, “I am excited and honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of my city! I believe that public art enhances our city in so many ways…from a quality of life standpoint for our citizens, to raising awareness of our local talent along with driving economic development. I have seen firsthand how even small art projects can enhance community pride and ownership. It’s difficult to explain how proud I am of everyone that helped us get to the point to receive this award and I am confident that we will continue to elevate the arts in our proud city! It is another great day in Beaumont!”
Mayor Jill Techel
Mayor Techel supports innovative programs and champions the philosophy that public art programs can provide a multitude of benefits to a community. With the Rail Arts District, BottleRock music festival, and the Napa Art Walk, Napa continues to be enriched and enhanced by incorporating the arts in its community fabric. Napa’s newest development is the creation of the Napa Lighted Art Festival, a celebration of creative arts, technology, and light, held annually in January, the city’s slowest tourism month. In 2019, approximately 35,000 people attended the festival, with approximately 40% from outside Napa County. The City of Napa raised more than $225,000 for the festival which accounted for 80% of all revenue and reduced the burden on the city’s general fund to support free cultural events. The economic impact to the city was estimated at $1.8 million. Under the direction of Mayor Techel, city staff also developed a local community engagement component for the festival, which included partnering with the Napa Valley Unified School District. During this past year, 30 students in the digital design lab at New Tech High School created one of the installations downtown. These students worked together and showcased their artwork next to other highly acclaimed international and regional artists.
Mayor Techel commented, “I am humbled by this honor and the recognition of the City of Napa’s Art Scene. Arts brings us great joy and provides us a place to come together and celebrate with our neighbors, friends and visitors. Arts has been the connector that has brought the educational, economic, recreational and non-profit sectors together. Our projects around the arts have brought magic to Napa.”
A list of previous award winners is available on Americans for the Arts’ awards page.
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 60 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.
Jay H. Dick
Americans for the Arts