Nominations Open for Revamped Governor’s Arts Awards

Posted By on November 20, 2019

Nominations are now open for the 39th Annual Governor’s Arts Awards, which will be presented to individuals, businesses and organizations that have made substantial and outstanding contributions to arts and culture in Arizona. 

Changes in the nomination process for 2020 include fewer categories and a process to highlight more rural artists and communities by grouping nominations by region based on legislative districts. Nominations will be vetted by peer-based panels with representation from five regions in Arizona – Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast and Central.  

Categories have been reduced from eight to four – Artist, Arts Organization/Administrator, Businesses and Philanthropy.  The Shelley Award, presented to an individual and determined by a committee of past honorees, will continue to be awarded.

“We felt it was time to streamline the number of awards and the process,” said Joseph Benesh, executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts.  “The main categories are legacy awards that recognize people and organizations who have been contributing to the arts and culture sector for a long time or in large ways.  We encourage cities and regions to recognize emerging and innovative artists and organizations in their own communities.”

Three volunteer selection panels comprised of business and arts leaders from across the state will review nominations based on three criteria: significance of the contributions and achievements of the nominee; range of individuals or groups served by the contributions and length and degree to which the nominee is dedicated to the arts.

The panels will be: Philanthropy, to determine philanthropy honoree; Honoree, to determine the winner in each category; and Finalist, to determine three finalists in each category.

Awards will be presented at the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards Gala, March 26, 2020 at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. in Mesa. Reception begins at 6 p.m. with awards presented from 7:30-9 p.m.  A one-hour After Party will start at 9 p.m.

Categories are:

• Artist: recognizing a living Arizona artist of significant merit, leadership or reputation whose creations or contributions enrich the state and the field of the arts.  This category is open to artists of all disciplines.

• Arts Organization/Administrator:  recognizing a nonprofit arts organization or an individual who has demonstrated significant support for or participation in activities fostering excellence in, appreciation of or access to arts in Arizona. 

• Business: recognizing for-profit businesses that demonstrate significant support locally or statewide for the arts through contribution(s) of time, energy, personnel, expertise, financial support and/or other activities which foster excellence in, appreciation of, or access to the arts. This category is not limited to arts-related businesses and may include retail, hospitality, services, manufacturing or any other business sector. 

• Philanthropy: recognizing extraordinary philanthropic leadership through the contribution of financial resources to non-profit arts and culture organizations, and by encouraging the philanthropic support of others. 

Nominees in all categories must be either living residents of Arizona, a business operating in and for the benefit of Arizona, a school or a community organization.  Business, arts organizations or school honorees that have won the award may be nominated again if at least five years have passed since receiving the award.  Previous individual Governor’s Arts Awards recipients in any category are not eligible.

Deadline for nominations should be submitted online at, by Saturday, Nov. 30.

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