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2022 Daniel E. Offutt III Arts & Culture Empowerment Awards to Take Place in June

The purpose of the Awards is to recognize the impact, quality, and diversity of the arts and culture throughout coastal Fairfield County. 

2022 Daniel E. Offutt III Arts & Culture Empowerment Awards to Take Place in June

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County has announced its Sixth Annual Daniel E. Offutt III Arts & Culture Empowerment (ACE) Awards, celebrating the creative changemakers of Fairfield County who have made a difference in their communities through Arts & Culture. The purpose of the Awards is to recognize the impact, quality, and diversity of the arts and culture throughout coastal Fairfield County. This year, CAFC honors those artists, arts educators, companies, cultural nonprofits, and philanthropists who worked to connect, heal, and strengthen communities through the most challenging times of the pandemic.

According to a January 2021 report by the Federal Management Agency (FEMA), "Nowhere has the effect of the pandemic been more direct, deep, and immediate than on the Arts." While the Arts sector was the hardest hit during the pandemic, it can be argued that they continued to be the hardest working. Production of arts and cultural goods and services generates $919.7 billion (4.3% of GDP) of economic economy* - an amount that is greater than the value added by such industries as construction, transportation, and agriculture.
In coastal Fairfield County, the ACE six awardees are illustrative of how the arts sector enriches, enhances, and connects communities through the arts - leading to community vibrancy, wellbeing, economic prosperity, and enhanced quality of life.
David Green, Executive Director of Cultural Alliance agrees, "Creatives are thought leaders and changemakers who see challenges as opportunities. They are naturally gifted to identify solutions and vision for the future. They steered us through a challenging time by offering hope, connection, energy, and a sense of pride to their communities, and they will continue to help rebuild the future through their work. Their stories are inspiring!"

Alicia Cobb (ACE Artist Awardee) is a Bridgeport-based artist and muralist who is dedicated to helping others process their world through art. Her art has inspired tourism, positive mental health, and well-being. Alicia brings public spaces to life through murals and performance art, and as a teaching artist, Alicia connects with students through arts integration residencies, and curricular enhancement programs designed to foster creativity, curiosity, and self-awareness.

William (Bill) D. Felton (ACE Civic Awardee), is an inspirational leader among leaders who has been instrumental in creating MoCA Westport which offered the community world class shows and performances through the pandemic, and continues to provide notable exhibits, concerts, programs and opportunities that unite us through the arts. a??a??His unwavering commitment to the arts, his leadership, guidance, passion and philanthropy continues to inspire others.
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Fairfield County Bank (ACE Corporate Awardee) has not only provided financial support to artists, but they have placed volunteers in leadership arts roles and provided mentorship throughout the arts sector, building bridges and key relationships across sectors. The Bank, and its President Daniel Berta, have been strong supporters of the arts in Fairfield County for decades. They are dedicated to making arts and culture available to everyone in the community through the organizations that make it possible. This commitment was especially helpful during the pandemic.

Pam Lewis (ACE Educator Awardee), creator of Bridgeport-based nonprofit Connect -Us, brings together suburban and urban neighbors by offering a performance-based approach to youth and community change that will impact the community for generations to come. Through a suite of free after-school programs, Pam is dedicated to creating meaningful partnerships with local schools, nonprofits, businesses, and residents across Fairfield County which help young people develop the skills they need to be successful in life.

Suzanne Kachmar and City Lights & Co. (ACE Nonprofit Awardee) helped to make Bridgeport a destination through arts initiatives and open studio events, breathing life, color, and vitality into downtown when it was most needed. City Lights continues to bolster tourism through its Bridgeport Art Trail (BAT), the largest celebration of the arts in Fairfield County, with visitors streaming through city-wide open studios and attending gallery shows, music, and poetry slams. City Lights has tirelessly promoted the artists of Bridgeport, giving them their first art exhibitions, training artists as educators, assisting them to write grants to provide culturally enriching programming, and championing public arts projects.

Alexandra Davern Korry (ACE President's Awardee), honored posthumously, was a trailblazing lawyer whose vision was to connect underserved students and under represented artists, offering a welcoming space, mentorship, and empowerment to them. As the spirit behind the transformation of a 1935 former Norwalk church, she was instrumental in preserving history by creating The Norwalk Art Space, a combination gallery, cafe, studio and classroom space.

These six community catalysts are just a few shining examples of creative leaders who impact communities economically, socially, and physically. Lorie Lewis, Communications and Marketing Director for the Cultural Alliance states, "Communities are investing in the Arts & Culture because the sector creates jobs, improves the economy, attracts tourism, and helps communities thrive. As Americans for the Arts says 'the arts mean business' and I believe the road to post-pandemic recovery will be paved by creative leaders and changemakers such as those we are honoring on June 15th."

The keynote speaker at the breakfast will be David Lehman, Commissioner for Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Also speaking will be Elizabeth Shapiro, Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums (DECD), and Jason Mancini, Executive Director, CT Humanities. All three speakers collaborated in an unprecedented manner over the last two years of the pandemic to discover and fulfill the financial needs of cultural organizations devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its social, mental health, and economic ramifications. The Master of Ceremonies will again be Tony Award winning actor, James Naughton.

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County appreciates the major support received from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, The Daniel E. Offutt III Private Foundation Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Norwalk. To learn more, visit culturalalliancefc.org The ACE Awards were renamed the Daniel E. Offutt III Arts & Culture Empowerment (ACE) Awards in 2021 after a significant contribution from the Daniel E. Offutt III Private Foundation Trust.
Tickets are available at bit.ly/cafcACE22.

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