In celebration of its 90th anniversary, the Utah Arts Council has inaugurated the first annual Governor's Awards in the Arts. Accordingly, at a gala dinner on March 11 Gov. Norm H. Bangerter presented awards to six leaders of Utah's arts community, and each received a commissioned work of art.
Recipients and their categories are: artist, Willam F. Christensen, Salt Lake City; arts education, Norman Skanchy, Ogden; arts organization, the Utah Opera Company, Salt Lake City; business, Bonneville International, Salt Lake City; patrons, D. LaRell and Yvonne Johnson, Spring-ville; and special citation, Fred C. Adams, Cedar City.Willam F. Christensen is a leading pioneer in American dance and founder of the San Francisco Ballet and Utah's Ballet West. At the University of Utah In 1951, he created the first ballet program within a fine arts department at an American university. He is credited with many U.S. choreographic firsts in classical ballet; among them, the first full-length "Nutcracker" in America, set on San Francisco Ballet in 1944, and now an annual favorite in Utah. Mr. C. retired as artistic director of Ballet West in 1978, but at age 87 he continues to train young dancers at the Christensen Centre in Murray.
Norman L. Skanchy is a multifaceted artist, administrator and educator who originated, coordinated and organized the Ogden City school district's first festival of the arts. He was director of the Ogden City school district's arts core project, which received statewide recognition; he also pioneered the artist in residence program in Utah and directed the district's arts planning team, first of its kind in the state.
Creator of a closed-circuit television program for Ogden City school district, he's also a talented sculptor, calligrapher, poet, jewelry craftsman and stained-glass artist.
The Utah Opera Company has grown phenomenally since its founding in 1977 and now has the largest budget of any U.S. company of its age. Founding director Glade Peterson brought the knowhow of a professional opera singer to his work, and has assembled consistently high-caliber casts, of-ten of national renown. The company was the youngest in the nation to adopt Supertitles (simultaneous English translations). Utah Opera's aggressive outreach program has brought opera to virtually every school in Utah, reaching an annual audience of approximately 80,000 students.
Bonneville International, with its family of broadcast outlets, provides a model for business in its outstanding support of arts organizations, through direct cash contributions, in-kind donations and advocacy. The corporation, through its Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, provides significant cash contributions to Utah's major arts organizations. Its broadcast subsidiaries, KSL Radio and KSL
Television, donate invaluable in-kind services and help to create a regional presence for Utah arts organizations, and its news staffs regularly cover arts events and editorialize on issues.
D. LaRell and Yvonne Johnson have donated a half century of selfless devotion to Springville's culture. Talented musicians, the Johnsons have performed in, directed or organized countless church and community musical and dramatic presentations. They have also been deeply involved in promotion of and service to the Springville Museum of Art in both artistic and volunteer capacities, among many other cultural, educational, historical and recreational activities and projects.
Fred C. Adams is recognized for his vision and leadership in creating the world-class Utah Shakespearean Festival. Under Adams' inspired leadership (as founder and now producing director), the festival has grown from a first-year budget of $1,000 and 18 participants to an annual budget of $1.5 million with a staff of 233 artists, administrators and technicians. The festival now attracts 100,000 people each year from every state in the Union and from abroad and is ranked by the New York Times as one of the five foremost Shakespearean festivals in the United States.
Winners were selected by a committee of the Utah Arts Council board of directors, with representation from the governor's office.