The Governor’s Arts Awards recognizes individuals and corporations for their outstanding contributions to the arts in Arkansas. Established in 1991, the award is presented for outstanding contributions to the arts in Arkansas by individuals as well as corporations. Selection is made by an independent panel of Arkansas arts professionals from public nominations.


Patron Award

Johnelle Hunt – Rogers

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ohnelle Hunt is the chairman of Hunt Ventures. Hunt and her late husband, J.B. Hunt, founded J.B. Hunt Transport. Personal and corporate contributions from Hunt and J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., generously support arts organizations and numerous nonprofits in Northwest Arkansas to the benefit of the region and state at large. Among a plethora of projects, her largesse has resulted in the 9,500 seats Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, underwriting field trips for students in the northwest region to the Walton Arts Center. Recently, she was honored as 2016 Arkansas Woman of Inspiration by the Children’s Advocacy Centers. The award is given to “a woman who has made a contribution to society for the benefit of children and serves as a substantial fundraiser for the CAC of Arkansas.” She was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015 for her leadership and contribution to the state. Recently, she was honored as 2016 Arkansas Woman of Inspiration by the Children’s Advocacy Centers for her work, AY Magazine, September 2016.


Arts In Education Award

Art Porter Music Education – Little Rock

Art Porter Music Education (APME) was founded to honor the memory of legendary Arkansas jazz musician, producer and educator Art Porter, Sr., and his musician son, Art Porter, Jr. APME provides unique musical and educational opportunities for Arkansas youth, including a scholarship program for high school graduates pursuing a degree in music.


Arts Community Development Award

Barbara and Sam Tobias – Mena

For the past 15 years, Sam and Barbara Tobias have provided generous support to SouthWest Artists, Inc., a community-based arts organization in Mena founded in 1945, generously giving of their time and talents as well as financial support, to expand the work of SouthWest Artists, Inc. of presenting art to the people of Polk County.


Folklife Award

Freda Cruse Hardison – Mountain View

Freda Cruse Hardison is a writer, photographer, and a scholar of folklore, culture and history of the Arkansas Ozarks. In addition to books on the culture and people of Stone County, Hardison has documented the history of music in the same county in the The Mountain Music Project, as well as the award-winning “Birth of the Ozarks” at the Calico Rock Museum.


Individual Award

Reese Rowland – Little Rock

Reese Rowland is an architect and principal with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock. His designs have been published in 25 national and international periodicals, as well as 13 books.


Judges Recognition Award

Max Elbo – Eureka Springs

Max Elbo is a graphic artist specializing in music festival posters, award-winning logo designs, illustrations for children’s books and posters benefiting humanitarian causes. In the 1960s, he designed psychedelic posters, handbills, postcards and album covers promoting national and international rock acts at Detroit’s historic live music venue, the Grande Ballroom. Elbo is an inductee of the Eureka Springs Artists Hall of Fame.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Thom Hall – Little Rock

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hom Hall served as Museum Registrar,  Special Projects Coordinator and Collections Manager for the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock for 40 years, managing the preservation, storage and record keeping of more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and contemporary fine art objects. Also a visual artist, his work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and private and public collections throughout the United States. Learn more about Thom Hall and see images from his national exhibit featured in AY Magazine, December 2016.


 Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award

Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP. – Little Rock

Lindsey, Wright & Jennings have made significant contributions in support of the arts in Arkansas. One of their many contributions to the art community is next month’s Arkansas Literary Festival,  April 27-30, 2017 – of which they have been sponsors for seven years running. The firm created the program which enabled 16 national and international writers, journalists, illustrators and photographers to visit 12 area schools in Central Arkansas.



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