Each October the Kentucky Arts Council coordinates the presentation of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, which recognize individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary and significant contributions to the arts in Kentucky. Awards go to artists, arts organizations, art critics, volunteers, schools, educators, local governments, legislators and corporate citizens. The Kentucky Arts Council solicits nominations for these awards and coordinates the panel selection process, and the awards are presented by the Governor of Kentucky at a public ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. Each year the arts council commissions a Kentucky artist to create custom works of art to serve as the awards.
There are nine award categories: Milner (for outstanding philanthropic or other contributions to the arts), Artist, Business, Community Arts, Education, Folk Heritage, Government, Media and National (for achievement of national fame in the arts). Nominations are accepted from organizations, businesses or individuals from within or outside Kentucky.