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City of Milwaukee Arts Board announces 2018 Artists of the Year and Friends of the Arts Awards

Community artist Tia Richardson and Florentine Opera associate conductor and chorus master Scott Stewart were named 2018 Artists of the Year, the City of Milwaukee Arts Board announced recently. Katie Heil and Diane Buck were named 2018 Friends of the Arts.

“Each of these individuals has generously shared their talent and passion for the arts on behalf of all of us in Milwaukee. We are fortunate they have chosen to dedicate their careers in our community,” said Alderman Michael Murphy, Milwaukee Arts Board Chair.

They will be honored by the Milwaukee Arts Board and the local arts community Monday, June 11, at a 4:30 p.m. reception at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, followed by an awards program and celebration at 5 p.m. Representatives of 35 city-based arts organizations that received arts board grants will also be recognized. The public is invited. Please RSVP by Friday, June 9.

Scott Stewart, 2018 Artist of the YearScott Stewart is celebrating his 40th anniversary at the Florentine Opera, where he wore many hats -- Associate Conductor and Chorus Master; Musical Director of the Florentine Donald and Donna Baumgartner Studio Artists Program; Musical Director of the Florentine Opera Summer Concert Residency Series; and Program Director of the Young Singing Actor Intensive Summer program. He studied choral conducting with Margaret Hawkins, orchestral conducting with Kenneth Schermerhorn and private independent study with Roberto Benaglio, former Chorus Master of La Scala and the Dallas Opera. Mr. Stewart is a 2012 recipient of the Civic Music Association’s Distinguished Citizen Professional in the Arts. He has conducted Florentine educational performances of L’Italiana in Algeri, The Barber of Seville, Hänsel and Gretel, Doctor Miracle and The Impresario. He has penned many educational in-school programs and developed new outreach programs for the Florentine Opera, as well as adapted and re-orchestrated operas for young audiences. Scott has also conducted performances for The Milwaukee Opera Theater and Skylight Opera Theatre.

Tia Richardson, 2018 Artist of the YearAs a full-time community mural artist, Tia Richardson employs a collaborative, therapeutic approach centered on emotional well-being. She is certified in Trauma-Informed Care from First Aid Arts and has worked with youth and adults in a variety of settings, including public schools, social services agencies, neighborhood organizations, the juvenile justice system, after-care centers, and grassroots collectives. She often incorporates large group conversation, small group collaboration, and reflection in her technique; as well as restorative practices like talking circles.

Photo Credit: David Haynes

Richardson has completed more than 30 collaborative murals and other creative projects. Most recently, with participation from over 150 community members, she painted a 56-foot long mural, Sherman Park Rising, depicting ways the community is restoring hope after the unrest. This process led to the production of a documentary short selected to screen at the Beloit International Film Festival. She was also featured in a Wisconsin Life public television segment, Artist Paints her City in a Positive Light, nominated for a producer's 2017 Arts/Culture/Entertainment Midwest Emmy.

Katie Heil, 2018 Friend of the ArtsA Milwaukee native, philanthropist Katie Heil has been a passionate community volunteer for more than 30 years. She works to create positive cultural change through a spectrum of non-profits from social services to the arts.

Most recently, Heil spearheaded an effort to study the financial and cultural impact of greater Milwaukee's burgeoning film industry. She founded an industry-led working group which resulted in the formation of the Milwaukee Film Alliance.

Through the arts and culture initiative Imagine MKE, Heil brought together more than 100 members of philanthropic, community, and arts sector leadership over a two-year collective impact process to unite arts and culture organizations and artists to strengthen their ability to thrive and contribute to an inclusive, engaged and inspired community. Imagine MKE will launch as a leadership hub in October 2018. She serves on numerous boards including the Milwaukee Film Alliance, Milwaukee Film Board, Milwaukee Rep MPACT Council, and the Cultural Commons Steering Committee at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.

Diane Buck, 2018 Friend of the ArtsTrained as a museum educator, Diane Buck became interested in the history of Milwaukee’s public art. With Virginia Palmer she co-authored Outdoor Sculpture in Milwaukee: A Cultural and Historic Guidebook, published in 1995 by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. She has worked as a volunteer with various civic and governmental agencies to educate, fundraise and conserve historic monuments in Milwaukee. She helped identify 12 historic sculptures that badly needed conservation, dubbed “The Dirty Dozen.” Only one remains on the “Dirty” list -- the monument to German-American Revolutionary War Hero Von Steuben near Washington Park.

Established in 2012, the Friends of the Arts Award is given to individuals who, often behind the scenes, have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to Milwaukee’s arts community. Past recipients include: Jan Serr and John Shannon, Sande Robinson, Thallis Hoyt Drake, Andy Nunemaker, Steve Vande Zande, Lori Bauman, Konrad Kuchenbach, John Holland, Dorothy Nelle Sanders (posthumously), Lucinda Gordon, Gloria Wright, Sue and Tim Frautschi, Joseph Pabst, Barbara Brown Lee, Mario and Catherine Costantini.

The Artists of the Year program was inaugurated in 1995 by Wayne Frank, then alderman and Milwaukee Arts Board Chair. Recipients each receive a $1,500 cash award. Funds used to launch the first award included a memorial bequest in honor of Milwaukee artist and MAB member Jim Chism. Additional funds for the award come from those arts board members who donate the stipend paid for their meeting attendance.

Past Artists of the Year include: Sheri Williams Pannell, Jane and Chris Flieller, Dasha Kelly, Della Wells, Dale Gutzman, John Riepenhoff, Evelyn Patricia Terry, Barbara Leigh, Bill Theisen, Reginald Baylor, Roy Staab, Antler, Debra Loewen, Richard Taylor, Yevgeniya Kaganovich, John Ruebartsch, Dinorah Marquez, C. Michael Wright, Lee Erickson, Ruth Schudson & Monty Davis, Sarah Price, Jason Yi, Marie Kohler, Ray Chi, JoAnna Poehlmann, Raoul Deal, Berkeley Fudge, Mark Bucher, Kevin Stalheim, Marina Lee Meyer, Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, James & Rose Pickering, Reynaldo Hernandez, Jill Sebastian, Terese Agnew, and John Schneider.

The Milwaukee Arts Board project grant program is funded by the City of Milwaukee with additional support from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. The MAB also awards matching funds annually for new works of public art and conservation of public art. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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