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District's Arts Celebrated at 28th Annual Event

Dorothy Rowley | 10/30/2013, 3 p.m.
Mayor Vincent Gray congratulates the winners, honorees and finalists during the Mayor's Arts Awards at the Warner Theatre in Northwest on Oct. 22. Photo by Roy Lewis

A teacher at the Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts and Howard University's School of Fine Arts are among the winners of this year’s prestigious Mayor’s Arts Awards, now in its 28th year of sponsorship by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH).

During the Oct. 22 ceremony, Marta Reid Stewart accepted the award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education, while Gwendolyn Everett, associate dean of the Howard University arts program, received the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Fine Arts division.

"The students at Duke Ellington are doing the work that no other high school students are doing in this country," Stewart said. "These students not only learned how to do that, but they learned how to live. They are dedicated to balancing work and play, and most importantly, they have a desire to leave their mark."

Many of Howard University’s graduates have gone on to win coveted honors that included Grammys, Oscars, Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize.

Everett told the audience of nearly 2,000 people who gathered at the Warner Theatre in downtown Washington, that it was an honor to accept the award on behalf of the entire Howard University family.

“We’re humbled by this distinction,” Everett said. “Where would the American cultural industry – particularly the artistic landscape – be without Howard University,” she asked to a thunderous round of applause. “We have made and continue to make significant contributions as award-winning playwrights, choreographers, vocalists, instrumentalists, designers and artists.”

DCCAH’s mission is to provide grants, programs and educational activities that encourage artistic expression and learning opportunities for District residents and visitors.

To that end, the creativity that takes place from Howard University to the Corcoran Gallery of Art all represent a multi-million-dollar industry which supports nearly 15,000 jobs annually. To help bolster those offerings, DCCAH’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget of $8.3 million was recently increased to include an additional $4.5 million.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray was among the host of presenters who congratulated the winners, honorees and finalists, who also included Jane Harman, president of the Harman Family Foundation and Barbara Harman, executive director of the Harman Family Foundation, both received the Visionary Leadership Award. Jim Abdo, president and CEO of Abdo Development, received the Award for Special Recognition.

“The awards highlight not only the achievement of those in the arts, but they serve to highlight the power of the creative industry here in the District of Columbia,” Gray said. “The artists and performers represent the diverse and inclusive spirit of this great city. A city that now has 632,000 residents and which by the way is larger than the entire state of Nevada,” Gray said, adding that he’s pleased by the manner in which DCCAH consistently supports the arts in the nation’s capital. “This work is absolutely vital to our creative economy, which we know is so much a part of being able to build resources for the city,” said Gray.

Performers for the two-hour event included actress E. Faye Butler – who also served as mistress of ceremonies, the Washington National Opera, Sharón Clark and Take Dance.

The achievement of others who exemplify the best in their fields included:

Carla Perlo, Outstanding Service to the Arts

Miriam's Kitchen and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Innovation in the Arts

Brian Grundstrom, Outstanding Emerging Artist

The Phillips Collection, Excellence in Artistic Discipline

Critical Exposure, also for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education

Topher Kandick, Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Language Arts

Sarah Pace, Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Performing Arts

Paige Byme, Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Visual Arts