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SCERA Announces 13th Annual STAR AWARD Honorees


SCERA Announces 13th Annual STAR AWARD Honorees

Those who have made significant contributions to the arts in a variety of categories will be recognized for their achievements in enriching the communities and citizens of Utah at the 13th Annual Star Awards held Saturday, March 10, 2018 at the SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem.

Violinist and entertainer Lindsey Stirling will receive the night's biggest award -- The 2018 Star Award. Bill and Marilyn Brown will receive the Lifetime Achievement honor. Awards will also be given to Grassroots Shakespeare Company for theatre, Angela Johnson for visual arts, Ryan Shupe for music, Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance for dance, James and Andrea Clarke as Friend of the Arts, Heber Valley Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering for Advocate of the Arts, and Bonnie Busco for volunteerism.

"We recognize that the scope of talent and commitment to the arts in Utah is tremendous, and the Star Awards are a way of calling attention to their achievements and applaud their talent and dedication," says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA President & CEO. "The challenge of the nominating committee is in choosing from an amazing array of people, which is the kind of challenge every arts organization should have."

Host of ABC Channel 4's "Good Things Utah," Nicea DeGering, will emcee the awards. The awards are interspersed with live entertainment, and will follow an elegant dinner by the UVU Culinary Arts and a silent and live auction. 100% of the proceeds from the evening will support SCERA's non-profit charitable Endowment for the Arts.

Each honoree will be given a plaque and make a short acceptance speech. A video tribute for each will be shown at the award ceremony, featuring friends, family and associates speaking on the attributes of each honoree and their contributions to the arts.

The general public is invited to attend the Gala and Star Awards, and the following options are available: 1) Dinner, silent and live auctions, and VIP seating for awards and entertainment is $95/person or a table of ten for $950 2) Awards and entertainment only for $10. Reservations are required, and may be made by calling SCERA at (801) 225-ARTS or online at

Lindsey Stirling

2018 Star Award

An acclaimed violinist from Gilbert, Arizona, and a 2015 graduate of Brigham Young University, Lindsey entered a futuristic world of electronic beats, leaping her way through the music industry with 10.5 million YouTube subscribers, over 2 billion views on her YouTube channel, 2 Billboard Music Awards, and chart-topping hits. She's created a world where modern classical meets the infectious energy of dance and electronica.

At the age of six, Lindsey begged her parents for violin lessons, and was classically trained until the age of 17 when her teacher told her to never come back...she had spent more time playing with her rock band Stomp On Melvin than practicing her classical music!

When Lindsey began her career eight years ago, she was told by industry professionals that she was too different. After a devastating experience on America's Got Talent, multiple rejections from record labels and fruitless open mic nights, she was introduced to a new online platform that seemed to be the watering hole for entertainment "rejects"...YouTube. It was the perfect fit for Lindsey, and in 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 placed Lindsey at #4 on its YouTube artists list, making her the highest-ranked female.

Stirling has been awarded 2 Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Album, and her sophomore opus Shatter Me would not only garner an RIAA Gold certification, but rank as the #2 Electronic Album and #1 Classical Album on Billboard's 2015 year-end charts. Lindsey has worked with some of her idols including Celine Dion, Josh Groban, The Muppets, John Legend, Evanescence, Rivers Cuomo (weezer), Christina Perry and more. Her Christmas album Warmer in the Winter was the best-selling holiday album of 2017.

In 2016, Lindsey released her first book, a memoir called "The Only Pirate at the Party" which she co-wrote with her sister, Brook S. Passey. The New York Times Bestseller shares stories of Lindsey's humble yet charmed childhood, humorous adolescence, life as a struggling musician, personal struggles with anorexia and depression, and finally, success as a world-class entertainer.

Lindsey's critically praised concerts have sold out venues across the globe, spanning the U.S., Europe and South America. Stirling has played to packed crowds at Red Rocks Amphitheater, Chicago Theater, New York's Central Park and the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and to date, Lindsey's tours have sold over 800,000 headline tickets worldwide.

Smack dab in the midst of a national tour, Lindsey was found in an audience of graduates at BYU, earning a degree in Recreational Therapy three years ago, something she calls "a life goal." She loved her time in Provo, describing the "incredibly uplifting, positive spirit that resides on the campus," and the humble superstar is proud to be a BYU alum. In 2017, Lindsey gained a legion of new fans by making it to the final two on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars." The model of a modern independent recording artist and a motivational speaker who strives to uplift and inspire through her art, Stirling uses her own story to show that you've got to have confidence in the very thing that makes you unique - then wait for the world to catch up.


Lifetime Achievement

Marilyn Brown considers most of her artistic work to lie in her novels. Though she enjoyed art classes in college, after achieving the MA from BYU and MFA from the University of Utah in creative writing, she has published more than twenty books, some winning prestigious awards: First Place and Honorable Mention in the Utah State Fine Arts Awards, the first Mayhew Prize at BYU, First Novel Award for the Association of Mormon Letters, First Place in both poetry and short story from Utah Writers, a Whitney nomination and Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award. She also won the Smith-Petit Award for her outstanding contribution to Mormon literature.

After raising six children, and enjoying sixteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren with her husband Bill, she joined him in developing 96 live plays at Springville's Villa Playhouse. After his health problems, she helped establish their small gallery on Springville's Main Street -The Brown House of Fine Arts. Although a fire destroyed more than thirty percent of their work, they agree that the joy of creating art is so satisfying, they are ready to do more. The creative couple live in Hobble Creek Canyon with three cats, visiting raccoons, wild turkeys, and mountainsides spotted with deer.

Bill Brown's love of the arts began at Provo High School, when theater teacher Ray Jones asked him to play the role of Jonathan in "Arsenic and Old Lace." He won the Actor of the Year Award for the performance and was hooked. Bill went to BYU to become a drama teacher, and finally graduated with a degree in Theater in 2002 - some 40 years later - as the oldest graduate in his class!

During that time, Bill was a successful real estate broker for 52 years. But theater was his passion. He and Marilyn founded two community theaters in Springville, the Villa Playhouse and the Little Brown Theater. They put money, time and talents into those ventures and produced nearly 100 productions in ten years. Hundreds of children and youth gained confidence and experience in their youth theater programs. They closed the theaters after Bill had a serious heart attack.

While recuperating, he started painting with Marilyn in 2006, and they opened The Brown House of Fine Arts Gallery and Studio in 2008. It has been open continuously until a fire destroyed it on October 19th last year. The couple are planning to rebuild and reopen sometime this year, but until then, their garage is their studio. Bill and Marilyn love to paint together and have won several awards. Bill considers his greatest achievement to be marrying Marilyn 42 years ago, and their entire extended family.



Grassroots Shakespeare Company is a collaborative touring ensemble of multidisciplinary artists who create joyous, vibrant productions inspired by Shakespeare's original staging techniques. Through open-air performances, interactive workshops, and scholarly events, they produce and promote genuinely engaging, popular and relevant theatre.

In their ten years as a company, GSC has strived to bring accessible Shakespeare to audiences everywhere. The troupe perform free, mostly in public parks, and pride themselves on attracting crowds who might have just been out for a leisurely stroll, but find themselves drawn in through the magnetism of the actor's performances. Men, women and children all stop, sit on the grass, and become engaged and connected to Shakespeare.

Grassroots Shakespeare is what is called an Original Practice company, meaning they explore the theatrical techniques and circumstances of Shakespeare's day. Shakespeare's company, The King's Men, had no director. In that same spirit, GSC productions are collaboratively staged by each member of the cast. There are no designers - all the costuming and props you see in their shows were created by each individual actor for their part. Shakespeare's actors took to the stage with little or no rehearsal time, sometimes meeting only the morning of the show to learn the fights and the dances. GSC honors that tradition by spending just three days in rehearsal - unheard of the live theatre world! Shakespeare's actors performed on a large wooden platform unadorned by fixed sets or scenery--with only the occasional chair, table, or rock to suggest a setting, thus allowing the audience to fill in the blanks with their imaginations. Grassroots has a portable wooden stage held up by barrels, a curtain for entrances and exits, and minimal pieces.

Perhaps the most important element of Elizabethan theatre was the audience! The Globe Theatre held over 3,000 wild, crazy spectators, and, for those audience members, Shakespeare's theatre was entertainment, sporting event, rock concert, and social outing all rolled into one. Grassroots Shakespeare Company's approach calls for direct audience interaction...a departure from conventional theater. They players encourage audiences to cheer, boo, yell, and talk to the actors. This allows patrons to experience shows, not just with their eyes and ears, but also with their voices and hands. It's one of the many reasons GSC has a following of fans that make it an annual tradition to attend their unique live performances.

As a non-profit charity, Grassroots Shakespeare Company relies on volunteer work from a dedicated staff, but pride themselves on being able to pay their actors competitively. Starting three years ago, nearly 70% of their budgeted spending goes to the high quality talent who bring Shakespeare to vibrant life. The Bard himself would be proud.

Angela Johnson

Visual Arts

Angela is the founder and sculptor of The Light of the World at Ashton Gardens in Lehi. There are 35 monumental statues that comprise fifteen scenes in the garden, and it was 13 years of epic intensity from receiving the concept to completion. Her story as a self-taught artist is a personal and inspiring journey of using art to testify of Jesus Christ.

Before Angela started sculpting in her late thirties, she had devoted her life to raising her children and pursuing a career as an operatic soprano. She was a faculty member at BYU's Education Week for eight years, where she taught the power of music and the development of gifts and talents. Angela performed dramatic presentations portraying woman of courage, including Golda Meier, Corrie Ten Boom, Mary Fielding Smith, Lucy Mack Smith and Helen Keller.

She describes her path from soprano to sculptor as "a divine commission." One day, as Angela sat down to begin 4-5 hours of vocal work, she received a strong impression that she would never accomplish her ultimate vocal goals. She was completely devastated.

She immediately went to the art supply store, bought a block of clay, one tool and four hours later there was a bust of a little girl on her kitchen table. She describes the experience eloquently: "When I pulled the plastic off and dove into the clay, I felt all the devastation leave my heart. It was as though I already knew what to do and my hands moved like a beautifully choreographed dance."

Angela met Karen Ashton at a women's retreat where she was asked to be a guest artist. After giving a presentation on statues, Karen pulled her aside and said "We need to talk." That was 2008, and the beginning of what would become the Light of the World Garden.

Angela explains, "I was not chosen, in the traditional sense of a commission, to create the Light of the World Garden. I was given the concept as an answer to prayer when I asked God what He wanted me to do with the gift of sculpting He gave me."

When a significant donation was given with the stipulation to finish the Garden, she had to sculpt two scenes a month and Adonis Bronze had to cast two scenes a month to meet the timeline. That never happens in the bronze industry!

Angela is passionate about developing gifts and talents: "We participate with God in a dynamic, fierce learning process about ourselves. We also learn about the need to give to each other, and to learn from other's perspectives as they create. We learn to face and overcome fear, and feel God's personal interest in us."

Singing will always be part of her life, and Angela still uses her musical talents when she gives presentations about the statues. She received a Merit Award from the LDS Church for her life-sized statue "Come Unto Me."

Angela has written a book, No Way Forward, that is sold at Ashton Gardens. It is her story of finding her path and sharing her joy through art.



Fifth-generation fiddler Ryan Shupe has been playing almost since he could walk, starting with a group of youngsters his father assembled called the PeeWee Pickers! Nowadays, Shupe puts his top-notch musicianship and witty creative songwriting to good use with four equally talented friends in the wildly popular group, Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand.

Accomplished on electric guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin, Shupe has been touring extensively across the United States since he was 10 years old. He is no stranger to the national stage and he and his band have appeared on Good Morning America, E!, CNN, National Public Radio, Mountain Stage, Woodsongs, 2002 Winter Olympics, Great American Country and CMT.

Hard to explain. Undeniably entertaining. That's Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband, who often describe their music as "Post Hee Haw Funkadelic Hip Hop New Grass." Ryan's joyful spontaneity and original compositions punctuate what Shupe calls an "organic approach to music." He was nominated for Songwriter of the Year by the Colorado Bluegrass Music Association and the band won the prestigious Telluride, Colorado National Band Competition.

Audiences can expect bluegrass, but also get a good dose of rock, hip hop, hillbilly, pop and funk. RubberBand is a perfect name for Ryan Shupe and his band of amazing artists. The group is known for its ability to stretch out musically in all directions, pinging back and forth with a natural talent for entertaining that most bands could barely imagine, let alone achieve. Each member possesses years of experience on his respective instrument and when the band comes together, their collective rapid-fire vocals, tight harmonies and daring musicianship is an explosive forced to be reckoned with. That explosion is backed up with national rankings for their abilities on the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass, banjo, bouzouki and drums.

RubberBand formed serendipitously in the mid '90s when Shupe developed the idea that he could have an outlet for his songwriting and play with musicians who would be able to come in and out of the band at will-much like a rubber band. The rotation worked for a while but when several of his friends stayed, a more permanent Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand emerged.

Ryan and his band of bluegrass hybrid enthusiasts have opened for Creed, Marc Anthony, 10,000 Maniacs, Bob Dylan, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chris LeDoux, Nickel Creek, John McEuen and many more.

Shupe and his bandmates's virtuosic jamming with acoustic instruments has made them one of the most successful musical groups to come out of Utah, and they received nationwide attention when they signed with Capitol Records and produced the hit single "Dream Big," which as used as the theme song for NBC's show "Three Wishes" hosted by Amy Grant. But the band's live shows are their artistic bread and butter, and the quirky quintet continue to tour regularly with stops at festivals, concert series, special events and packed venues. They'll be pickin'...and audiences will be grinnin'!



Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance (UHDA) was formed in 2000 and is made up of folk dancers from throughout Utah who want to preserve the ethnic dance traditions of Latin America and promote community inclusion as they showcase the excellence of Hispanic culture through dance. The UHDA's performances are unique in that they showcase the folk dances and culture of all of Latin America. Not only does the audience experience the sounds and flavors of Mexico, but they may also witness the traditions of Bolivia, Chile, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and many others. Colorful costumes, vibrant music, and native performers all serve to produce a truly authentic cultural experience.

The highlight of UHDA's season is the annual "Latin American Dance Spectacular." Held since 2000 in downtown Salt Lake City, it is an event which has been recognized by respected dance critics as "a gem," "wonderful addition to Utah's diverse arts scene," and "one of the most acclaimed cultural endeavors that Utah has to offer."

UHDA also participates at various smaller presentations including educational school events and assemblies, community cultural celebrations, as well as private events. They have performed for an audience in excess of 15,000 at the LDS Conference Center and for inmates at the Central Utah Correctional Facility.

One of their highest profile accomplishments occurred in January of 2013, when UHDA was invited to represent the State of Utah at President Obama's 2nd Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. The group was selected from among thousands of organizations who competed for this great honor, in large part due to their ability to represent the highest caliber of traditional Hispanic art and culture. UHDA has presented dance shows throughout Utah, the western United States, Europe, and even in South America. It speaks highly of UHDA that its members are exporting Hispanic folk dance to - of all places - South America!

The force behind UHDA is artistic director Jessica Salazar, who founded the alliance. A native of Sonora, Mexico, Jessica received her Masters Degree in Dance from Brigham Young University where she also choreographed and performed with the acclaimed Lamanite Generation. While living in the Midwest, Jessica served as a board member with the Ethnic Dance Theater of Minneapolis, taught as a guest choreographer at St. Olaf College, and served as an artist in residence for the Minneapolis School District. Currently, Jessica resides in Salt Lake City, where she also serves as a panelist on the Utah Arts Council Dance Board and is a certified Arts Administrator through the Utah Arts Council's Front Porch Institute Program. Jessica was recognized for her unique contribution to art in Utah and profiled by Artes de Mexico in their New Chapters oral history project. This exhibit, funded by the Utah Humanities Council and the Utah State Office of History, "recognized the unique histories of Utah artists who have added new chapters to Utah's history - chapters necessary to fully understand our State's past and the richness its diversity brings."


Friend of the Arts

Andrea & James Clarke operate Clarke Capital Partners, a Global Growth Equity and Alternatives Firm. In 2001, James founded and led Utah-based CLEARLINK-named by combining Clarke + Earl, as a tribute to his fiancé-which now has over 2,000 employees.

James is an alumnus of BYU, Harvard University and holds a Master's Degree in Major Programme Management from the University of Oxford, where he returns to lecture on occasion. Andrea excelled in Marketing in her early career and received a Bachelor's Degree from the Eccles School at the U of U.

While living in SLC, James's served on boards for Kingsbury Hall, Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, and Deer Valley Music Festival. James and fellow board members worked tirelessly to save those organizations during a time of particular economic hardship.

Serving alongside UVU President, Matt Holland, and Foundation CEO, Scott Cooksey, they helped raise more than $20 million for the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, which will be completed in early 2019. The UVU Foundation has more than doubled in asset size during Clarke's first tenure as chair.

The Clarkes have served in organizations dedicated to improving life in our community. Andrea chairs the UVU Women's Success Center Advisory Board and is a board member of Bridle Up Hope-The Rachel Covey Foundation, and worked alongside Derryl Yeager on the Odyssey Dance Theatre board.

As a couple, the Clarkes were part of the Young Benefactor organization at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and were Executive Producers of 8 albums for Broadway artists like James Conlee and local acts like The Strike. During college, James performed with Showtime Company, touring the US/Canada and later won a spot as a backup singer to Donny Osmond, albeit very briefly.

As a family, the Clarkes frequent art museums globally and enjoy collecting original art, particularly Utah artists. The family's love of the arts was instilled by an oil painting from Grandma Rissa Clarke, whose paintings now hang throughout her descendant's homes. Further influencing this love affair was their neighbor and friend, Arnold Friberg, whose paintings now adorn the Clarke offices.

The Clarke Capital team served as special advisors to the CEO of the Global Citizen Festival, now an annual event held in New York's Central Park, which generates over $1 billion annually to eradicate extreme poverty and has featured artists such as Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Sting and Coldplay.

Recently, the Clarkes joined forces with Lord David Rowe-Beddoe and The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, underwriting scholarships for the Royal Welsh College of Music in Wales.

In 2014, the Clarkes commissioned Liz Lemon-Swindle to complete 13 Masterwork paintings, which were donated to BYU-Idaho to create the Marilyn & Jack Clarke Collection, in honor of parents who devoted much of their career at the university.

Andrea and James moved their family to Utah Valley after selling their Salt Lake-based business and love raising their three children in this community. Today, the Clarkes serve at SCERA where James's mother performed in her youth, and have made a multi-year commitment to further SCERA's artistic mission. They are honored to contribute to causes which support the arts, education and poverty elimination.


Advocate of the Arts

One fall day in 1994, three friends from Midway, Utah - Tom Whitaker, Ben Quinters and Kim Cutler - began reminiscing about cowboy poems and stories of dusty trails, nights under the sky, bucking broncs and of the old West. Tom suggested that they pool their talents, invite a few other local musicians and poets and have a "Cowboy Poetry Gathering" to share some of these classic odes to the Western way of life.

The very first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in the Midway Town Hall happened in November of 1994 to a standing room crowd where the entertainment was free, and the Dutch Oven chili was just five bucks.

Out of that first Gathering would grow one of the largest and most respected cowboy music and poetry events in the nation. Today, it has grown to a five-day event around the Heber Valley. Now, 23 years later, the gathering has hosted hundreds of Western music performers and cowboy poets who have entertained and educated tens of thousands of people.

The mission of the gathering is to promote the cowboy way of life through music, poetry, art, and by giving back to the community through the annual Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair. Performers from all over the United States travel to Utah to perform in front of audiences that embrace the Western culture. Cowboy poets tell tales of Western life through rhythm and rhyme, through stories that will make you laugh and cry, and leave patrons feeling grateful for the traditional tales of the old time cowboy. Heber Valley's Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair includes western booths with arts, crafts and cowboy gear, a mountain man camp, cowboy church and nonstop cowboy poetry and entertainment.

Over the years, faces have come and gone, but for the past thirteen years event organizers Brent and Mary Kelly have worked with the nine-member executive committee to find and bring new talent, and manage the more than 50 staff members and 200 volunteers who make the event a success each year year.

This year, they invite you to enjoy the talents of more than 40 entertainers on eight different stages, including the harmonies and humor of the Bar J Wranglers. The 2018 Heber Valley Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering will be held October 24 - 28. Ya'll are invited!



Provo's Freedom Festival has become a collection of many wonderful civic activities celebrating our great country. Bonnie had the privilege and responsibility to co-create and direct "Cries of Freedom - The Musical," which has performed as part of the festival's outreach activities in Orem's SCERA Park. Along with the historical aspect, the production showcases Bonnie's choice of music and some of her choreography.

Bonnie has always had a deep love for the performing arts. She received her B.S. degree in elementary and secondary education from Utah State University, but minors in dance and performance brought her where she is today. Bonnie's career took her to Weber State College, where she taught dance and directed the drill team, cheerleaders, and dance team.

She left teaching for a time to raise her wonderful three children: Steven, Holly, and Kent. But of course she volunteered at their school, and it wasn't long until Bonnie was offered a teaching position. This experience became a dream come true, as Bonnie has a great love for young people and patriotism. That passion increased as she worked with the young people at Wasatch Elementary, where she created programs that taught them respect for one another as well as love for their country. Each day students were involved in school and civic duties that included membership in a seventy-member flag corp and also participated in a yearly patriotic musical. All these things Bonnie did voluntarily, outside of her teaching responsibilities.

After twenty-five years of teaching, Bonnie was led to Scott Swain and his company, Roots of Freedom. Another dream come true as she discovered they had the same vision and passion for freedom, liberty, and America. When they created "Cries of Freedom - The Musical," both Scott and Bonnie were touched by the inspiration of our all-mighty God and the spirit of liberty. Their volunteer efforts were arduous but rewarding. Many of Bonnie's former students, now in high school or college, joined the cast, and she says the young people involved in the patriotic experience have expressed that it has been life-changing.

Bonnie loves America, and she lives her life by the philosophy that if you listen closely, you might hear the Founding Fathers calling from their graves for all Americans to roll up their sleeves and do everything we can to help keep America the greatest nation in the world. Bonnie is the epitome of one who answers that call.

Bonnie expresses special thanks to Scott Swain, Paul Warner and Adam Robertson. She is also grateful for good parents who taught her to work hard and instilled a desire to serve others. When she was young, Bonnie's father gave her a book of poems with words that guide her life: "I don't need a prize to put upon the shelf. It's just that I like doing things because I please myself."

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