Showcasing the Arts

2024 Governor's Awards in the Arts

Nomination Deadline: March 29, 2024

The Kentucky Arts Council strongly encourages you to read and understand the Governor’s Awards in the Arts guidelines and instructions before accessing the online nomination.

Like all programs of the Kentucky Arts Council, the Governor’s Awards in the Arts Program is guided by the arts council’s core values. Successful nominations will embody these core values, and all nominators are strongly encouraged to read and reflect upon them before submitting a nomination.

Core Values of the Kentucky Arts Council

Program Purpose

The purpose of the Governor's Awards in the Arts is to recognize, with the commonwealth's highest honors in the arts, the extraordinary and significant contributions of artists, arts organizations, volunteers, schools, educators, local governments, legislators, and corporate citizens, to the arts in Kentucky or the nation.

The goals of the Governor's Awards in the Arts are:

  • To select, on an annual basis, exemplary recipients for the nine award categories
  • To honor the annual recipients in a public recognition ceremony
  • To expand and diversify arts advocacy

Program Description

The 2024 awards will be presented at a public ceremony and celebration, coordinated by the Kentucky Arts Council. In addition, the arts council coordinates the nomination process by panel and submits the nomination to the Governor’s Office for the Governor’s consideration and approval.

There are nine award categories. Each award category has its own eligibility requirements. The expectations are the same for all award categories. However, each award category has specific criteria.

Performance Expectations

Your nomination will be reviewed using the following expectations as applied to each award category description:

  • Personification of the value of the arts
  • Nominee has demonstrated their/its support of artists and organizations in providing arts activities

Milner Award: Outstanding philanthropic, artistic or other contributions to the arts.

Artist Award: Lifetime achievement in the arts.

Business Award: Outstanding interest in and support of the arts.

Community Arts Award: Positive impact in the community through the arts.

Education Award: Significant contribution to arts in education.

Folk Heritage Award: Outstanding effort to perpetuate and promote Kentucky's unique artistic traditions, including traditions brought to Kentucky from other regions, states or countries.

Government Award: Significant support for the arts through government action.

Media Award: Commitment to bringing the arts to the attention of the public.

National Award: Achievement of national prominence in the arts.

Who May Be Nominated

Eligible nominations, with the exception of the National Award, must be full-time residents of Kentucky, and must meet the following specific requirements in each of the award categories:

Milner Award: Be an individual resident of Kentucky or an organization located in Kentucky.

Artist Award: Be an individual resident of Kentucky, or group of Kentucky residents.

Business Award: Be a business located in Kentucky.

Community Arts Award: Be an individual resident of Kentucky or an organization located in Kentucky.

Education Award: Be an individual resident of Kentucky or a school or organization located in Kentucky.

Folk Heritage Award: Be an individual resident of Kentucky, an organization located in Kentucky.

Government Award: Be a Kentucky resident or a government agency located in Kentucky.

Media Award: Be an individual Kentucky journalist involved in print, broadcast or electronic media or a media organization located in Kentucky.

National Award: Be a Kentuckian who is a resident of, or is closely related to, Kentucky.


Past Governor's Awards in the Arts recipients (see list below) and deceased persons are ineligible for nomination in any category.

Past Recipients

Milner - Governor Julian Carroll, Moritz Bomhard, Jon Jory, James Still, Wendell Cherry, Harriet Simpson-Arnow, Jean Ritchie, Anna L. Huddleston, Barry Bingham Sr., Wendell E. Berry, Robert Penn Warren, Jesse Stuart, Harlowe Dean, Rude Osolnik, Lucille Little, Sherry Jelsma, Homer Ledford, Marilyn Moosnick, Alun Jones, Robert Bruce French, Roy P. Peterson, Crit Luallen, Donna S. Hall, Bill & Josephine D'Amato Richardson, David A. Jones, Glema Mahr, J. Alexander Speer, Owsley Brown II, Jerry E. Baker, Al Shands, Adalin Wichman, William G. Francis, Oakley and Eva Farris, Judi Jennings, Al Smith, Chester and Msiba Ann Grundy, Ruthie Bale, Cornelia Dozier Cooper, Michael Johnathon, James Gifford, Kaye Savage Browning, Todd Parker Lowe

Artist - Harlan Hubbard, Robert S. Whitney, Alma Lesch, Helen Starr, Barney Bright, Ray Fry, Adale O'Brien, Paul Owen, John Tuska, Warren Hammack, Ed Hamilton, Minnie Adkins, David Livingston, George Zack, Lee Sexton, Lee Luvisi, Melvin Dickinson, Moses Goldberg, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Elizabeth Hartwell, Jay Flippin, LaVon Van Williams Jr., Vince DiMartino, Chilton Price, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Kenneth von Roenn Jr., Gray Zeitz, Laura Ross, Larnelle Harris, Linda Pigman Fifield, Guy Gerard Kemper, Roger Wilford Cooper, Tim Hall, Silas House, The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, Amanda Matthews, Dan Neil Barnes

Business - Brown-Forman Corporation, South Central Bell, Ashland Oil Inc., Philip Morris USA, Humana, Inc., Texas Gas Transmission, Martin Coal Company, Liberty National Bank, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Trans Financial Inc., Charlie Johnson/Active Transportation, The Commercial Bank of Grayson, William & Meredith Schroeder, Bank of Louisville, Peoples Bank of Madison County, J. W. Kinzer Drilling Company, Fifth Third Bank, Community Trust Bank, Julius Friedman, Artique, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare, John Timmons/ear X-tacy, Liquor Barn, Hilliard Lyons, Alltech, UK HealthCare Arts in HealthCare Program, 21c Museum Hotel, Lexington Center Corporation Technical Services Department, Big Ass Solutions, Owensboro Health, The Kroger Company, First Southern National Bank, Tidball's, Paducah Bank, Independence Bank, Gnomon Press

Community Arts - Elmer Lucille Allen, Wayne Smith, Mary Yeiser, Bowling Green-Warren County Arts Commission, G. Caliman Coxe, Emily Wolfson, Ft. Knox Alumni Performing Arts Center, Donna Bradley-Morton, Rowan County Arts Council, Elizabeth Paxton, Fohs Hall Community Arts Foundation, Dorothy Brockman, John Edmonds, Tom Sternal, Appalshop, Jenny Wiley Theatre, Ashland Area Art Gallery, Princeton Art Guild, Cumberland County Arts Council, The Living Arts & Science Center, Roots & Heritage Festival, Billie Jean Osborne, Kenneth H. Clay, Paramount Arts Center, Saundra Kilijian, Master Musicians Festival, Covington Community Center, Jarrett Boyd, Louisville Central Community Centers, Montgomery County Council for the Arts, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Singletary Center for the Arts, The Baker-Hunt Foundation, Kentucky Book Fair, Kentucky Repertory Theatre, Janice Mason Art Museum, Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild, The National Quilt Museum, Latitude Artist Community, International Bluegrass Music Museum, Market House Theatre, Creative Diversity Studio, Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts, Valera Brooks, Artists Collaborative Theatre, Butler County Arts Guild, Murray Art Guild, Yeiser Art Center

Education - Henrietta Roush Scott, Hindman Settlement School, Lila Davis Bellando, Kentucky Educational Television, Norma E. Brown, Christian County Schools, Mildred Berkey, Hancock County Schools, Westport Middle School, Jean Green, Bige Towery Jr., Ballard High School, Judy Sizemore, VSA Arts of Kentucky, Dr. Diane Roketenetz/James E. Biggs Early Childhood Education Center, Daviess County Public Schools, Nancy Carpenter, Collaborative for Teaching & Learning, Diane Downs, Deborah M. Shannon, Vernell Bennett, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, Hazel Carver, The Russell Orchestra, Julie Ann White, Harry Pickens, Melanie Wood, School of Creative and Performing Arts, Christina Hartke Towell, Lexington Children's Theatre, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Nathan Link, Miles Osland, RiverPark Center Inc., CKYO MusicWorks, Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Jane Dewey, Nan Moore, Thomas Stites

Folk Heritage - Eddie Pennington, J. D. Crowe, Lynwood Montell, Lestel Childress, John Harrod, Marvin Finn, Lewis Lamb & Donna Lamb, Cowan Community Action Group, Kentucky Folk Art Center, Loyal Jones, Helen LaFrance Orr, Leona Waddell, Edward White, Bob Gates, Willie D. Rascoe, Hindman Dulcimer Project, Jennifer Zurick, George Beard, Shelly Zegart, Sue Massek, Maxine Ray, Tee Dee Young

Government - Senator David Karem, Mayor Scotty Baesler, Representative Jody Richards, Congressman Ron Mazzoli, Representative Harry Moberly, Sue Larison, Louisville Regional Airport Authority, Senator Wendell Ford, Mammoth Cave National Park, Mayor Pam Miller, Secretary Ann R. Latta, Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship & Technology, City of Paducah Artist Relocation Program, City of Berea, Hindman/Knott County Community Development Initiative, Governor's School for the Arts, Pike County Extension for Fine Arts, City of Covington, City of Maysville, Mountain Arts Center, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressman John Yarmuth, Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, City of Danville, Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Lexington Parks & Recreation, City of Greenville, City of Somerset, City of Beaver Dam, Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, Mike Buchanon

Media - Barry Bernson, Cass Irvin, William Mootz, Jane S. Blake, WYMT-TV (Hazard), WKMS Radio (Murray), WEKU/WEKH Radio (Richmond), Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky Educational Television, Public Radio Service of Western Kentucky University, WHAS-TV (Louisville), Byron Crawford, Nick Lawrence, Arts Across Kentucky, The Lane Report, Business First of Louisville, WTCR Radio (Ashland), Kentucky Monthly, Morehead State Public Radio, Charlie Hughes, Judith Egerton, Rich Copley, Erika Brady, Jeffrey Lee Puckett, Tom Eblen, Constance Alexander, Dave Shuffett, Paducah Life Magazine, Mountain Workshops, Bluegrass & Backroads, Al Día en América, Louisville Public Media, Morgan Cook Atkinson, Walter Tunis

National - George Wolfe, Marsha Norman, Marvin & Morgan Smith, Rosemary Clooney, Christine Johnson Smith, Joe Downing, Sam Gilliam, Barbara Kingsolver, John Henry, The Judd Family - Naomi, Wynonna & Ashley, Ricky Skaggs, The Everly Brothers, Patricia Neal, Suzan-Lori Parks, George Clooney, Annie Potts, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bobbie Ann Mason, Actors Theatre of Louisville, My Morning Jacket, Sam Bush, Wendy Whelan, jahi chikwendiu, Chris Stapleton, Tom T. Hall, Martha Redbone, Bobby Osborne, Ada Limón

Who May Nominate

Organizations, businesses or individuals from within or outside of Kentucky may make nominations. Nominators play a very important role in bringing nominations to the attention of the Governor.

Program Support

The Kentucky Arts Council will offer the following support to ensure that program standards and goals are met:

  • Consultation regarding nomination eligibility, details of the nomination form and attachments, etc.

How to Make a Nomination

Nominations will be accepted via this online form.

Detailed support materials are a valuable component of nominations. Nominators can include up to five one-page letters of support (page size 8.5x11 inches) for a nominee. Additionally, nominators can include up to 20 8.5x11-inch pages of support materials (photos, programs from performances, news clippings, etc.). Those pages may include no more than five links to audio or video samples of five minutes or less.

Nominators should carefully prioritize and select support materials. Audio or video samples of work can be included as links within the support materials.

Nominators are welcome to submit nominations in more than one category. A separate nomination form is required for each category.

Nominations will be kept active for three award cycles. Multiple nominations for the same nominee in the same year do not increase the nominee's competitiveness for an award.

Nominees may be nominated in more than one category, but the nomination and support materials (including letters of support) must be reflective of the category in which the individual or group is being nominated. For example, if you are nominating someone for the Artist Award and the Community Arts Award, the nomination packets cannot simply be copied and submitted separately. One nomination must make a case for the Artist Award, and the other must make a case for the Community Arts Award. Nominations in multiple categories that do not follow these instructions will be ruled ineligible.

Nomination Deadline

Nominations must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Eastern time, March 29, 2024. If the arts council does not receive the nomination by the deadline date, it will be considered ineligible.

For More Information

The Kentucky Arts Council welcomes all questions regarding this program and nomination form. For more information on this program, contact:

Tom Musgrave
Communications Director
888-833-2787 (toll free)