Joe Starita to receive 2019 Sower Award

Joe Starita will receive the 2019 Sower Award in the Humanities as announced by Humanities Nebraska.  Starita will be presented with the award on Thursday, October 24 at Omaha’s Holland Performing Arts Center.  The presentation will immediately precede the 24th Annual Governor’s Lecture.

 

Starita is currently a journalism professor at University of Nebraska, Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass communications.  Before joining the faculty in 2000 Sarita was an investigative reporter at the Miami Herald where he specialized in exposing unethical practices in the medical community.  One of his stories of extortion of insurance companies with bogus claims was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the category of local reporting.

Starita is also an author of three books that have been recognized for exploring the role of Native Americans in history.  “The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge – A Lakota Odyssey” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Proceeds from “I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice and “A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor” fund scholarships that enable Nebraska Native American students to attend college.  Starita earned the national civil right award, Leo Reano Award in July of 2011, for his work with the Native American Community.

 

Starita’s ability to deeply probe these subjects that have shaped the past and the lives of many secures him as one of Nebraska’s treasures.  The Nebraska Cultural Endowment would like to extend our sincere congratulations to Starita for this well-deserved honor.

 

Start the year with a story…

Happy New Year and a big THANK YOU for an amazing 2018!

I’d like to start this year with gratitude and a reflection…

 

20 years ago, Nebraska looked much different. We’ve had tremendous shifts in our economic and community landscapes from Scottsbluff to Omaha, Norfolk to McCook. And while MY perspective of things may have been from about 2 feet closer to the ground and sitting in an elementary school classroom in Lincoln, I can appreciate the amazing changes that have come about. In fact, these changes have shaped my own upbringing – indeed I am, in many ways and like many others, the product of these significant shifts – including the one brought on by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

In Memory of State Sen. LaVon Crosby of Lincoln, who, along with Sen. Don Pederson of North Platte, first championed this unique and powerful legislation.

In the years leading up to the formation of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, public funding for the arts and humanities at the federal level was under significant threat. Because of this mounting uncertainty, a visionary group of policy-makers and passionate citizens sought a solution to sustain our state’s treasured cultural resources, to be shielded from shifts in the political or economic landscape. It was a solution other states have tried with varying degrees of success – to create a publicly-funded Cultural Trust. However, Nebraska being Nebraska, we wanted to do things just a bit differently… just a bit better.

Instead of an entirely publicly-funded trust, we would create a public-private Endowment, where private investments in the arts and humanities of tomorrow would be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a public investment in the same vision, and vice versa. Early aspirations for this initiative were to hold $25 million in order to sustain the arts and humanities by directing the earnings from investments to the Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities Nebraska.

 

Fast-Forward –

I am thrilled to share that the Nebraska Cultural Endowment… the product of the tireless work of these visionary policy-makers and community members… is currently responsible for investments of $21 million. What’s more, starting in 2019, we have the legislative mechanism to grow to a combined $30 million by 2028. However, we can’t do it without the support of our community.

WeBop workshop at Omaha Performing Arts

The impact of this nationally-unique, public-private partnership is exceptional and perpetual. Without decreasing the principal of $21 million, the NCE grants over $1 million per year back into the cultural sector of Nebraska, and we currently account for about 20% of each of the state councils’ budgets. As we grow to $30 million, we expect that to increase to 30% or greater, further sustaining the rich and vibrant cultural resources of Nebraska.

Together, we will rise to this challenge – to ensure that future generations will have access to the same or better arts and humanities education, and that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will know a Nebraska that fosters creativity and free thought. With your support, Nebraska will remain informed, creative, and civically engaged. We all know Nebraska is a special place to live; and we have the opportunity today, to make sure that remains true tomorrow.

 

So, in this time of celebration and renewal, I would like to thank our community for making Nebraska’s cultural landscape what it is today by embracing and supporting this powerful initiative; and I invite you to join us as we continue to cultivate a legacy for the arts and humanities in Nebraska.

 

Happy New Year!

-Kyle

Kyle Cartwright
Executive Director
Nebraska Cultural Endowment

 

 

NAC Director to Receive National Award

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Suzanne Wise, executive director of the Nebraska Arts Council, the recipient of its 2018 Gary Young Award. The award recognizes an executive director who has made an extraordinary contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels. The award will be presented on November 3 during NASAA’s annual conference, Assembly 2018, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Suzanne Wise has been executive director of the Nebraska Arts Council (NAC) since 2003. Before her appointment, she served on the NAC staff managing grant programs, special initiatives and the 1% for Art program. She was part of the development team that established the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, a public-private partnership that raises and invests funds for NAC and Humanities Nebraska. The endowment is currently at $20 million and is on track to have assets of $30 million by 2029.

During Wise’s tenure as director, NAC has collaborated with the Nebraska Department of Education in developing the state’s first fine arts curriculum standards, reestablished the Nebraskans for the Arts advocacy organization and created an artist showcase gallery at the NAC offices in Omaha’s Old Market district.

Wise has served on the boards of the Lincoln Arts Council, Sheldon Film Theatre (now Ross Media Arts Center), National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Her service to the field also includes serving on grant review panels at the federal, state and local levels and providing facilitating services for area colleges and universities.

Wise has degrees in art history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Kansas. She held curatorial positions at Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln, Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha and Block Gallery at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and has taught at Creighton University and the Lincoln and Omaha campuses of the University of Nebraska. She was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Hixon-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts.

“NASAA applauds Suzanne Wise’s receipt of the Gary Young Award, our field’s highest honor for executive leadership,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “The constructive collaborations she has piloted throughout her state, her policy acumen, and her commitment to arts education and advocacy have greatly advanced the public value of the arts in Nebraska. NASAA is pleased to recognize Suzanne’s many accomplishments with this award.”

The Gary Young Award was established by the New England Foundation for the Arts to honor the memory of a man who made numerous contributions to the state arts council movement in the United States, and to provide recognition to those who carry on his tradition of leadership in this field.

Founded in 1968 and celebrating 50 years of service in 2018, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is the nonpartisan membership organization that serves the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. NASAA helps state arts agencies fulfill their many citizen service roles by providing knowledge services, representation and leadership programs that strengthen the state arts agency community. NASAA also serves as a clearinghouse for data and research about public funding and the arts. To learn more about NASAA and state arts agencies, visit www.nasaa-arts.org.

 

Former NCE ED to receive 2018 Sower Award

Humanities Nebraska announced that Pamela Hilton Snow of Ashland will receive the 2018 Sower Award in the Humanities. Mrs. Snow will be honored on Tuesday, October 9 at a benefit reception and dinner held at Lincoln’s Embassy Suites hotel. The 23rd Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham will follow at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

The Sower Award is presented annually to an individual who has made “a significant contribution to public understanding of the humanities in Nebraska.” This contribution can be through any combination of time, expertise, or resources, and the selection committee examines how the nominee has helped inspire and enrich personal and public life in our state through the humanities.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Pamela Hilton Snow is known for her passion and commitment to the humanities in Nebraska. In his nomination letter, Robert Nefsky referred to Mrs. Snow as “among those Nebraskans whose contributions to the humanities have made a real difference.”

A founding board member (1999-2006) and former executive director (2006-2014) of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Mrs. Snow’s long history of serving the humanities includes being a board member (1996-2006) and chair (1999-2000) of Nebraska Humanities Council, and board member (1999-2006) of the Nebraska Foundation for the Humanities. She was also instrumental in bringing the Great Plains Chautauqua to Grand Island, planning and consulting for the Nebraska Book Festival, and recruiting Humanities Nebraska board members.

Mrs. Snow has served on several other boards and is a current board member of the Cooper Foundation.  She travelled to other state humanities councils as a National Endowment for the Humanities site visitor and consultant, and helped strengthen many other Nebraska institutions.

Edythe Manza, retired director of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Federal-State Partnership Division, wrote from Maryland, “During my time at NEH, I worked with dozens of site visitors. Pamela Hilton Snow was one of the best…[She] understands the importance of collaboration. She represented NEH in the highest professional way while also bringing distinction to Nebraska, its cultural institutions generally, and Humanities Nebraska in particular.”

According to Kim West Dinsdale, Mrs. Snow is known for her talent to create successful teams through her incredible leadership skills. “Her name is synonymous with the Humanities,” Dinsdale wrote. “It is out of respect for Pam and all that she has done that people are eager to say, ‘Yes!’”

Mrs. Snow is credited for her leadership, organization, philanthropy, knowledge and love for the arts and humanities. She is also a talented writer and photographer. Her hard work in Nebraska, specifically the Grand Island area, led to the creation and enhancement of many institutions of the humanities that have benefitted countless communities.

The 2018 Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities is presented by Humanities Nebraska, along with co-sponsors E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues and the University of Nebraska. The free public lecture by Jon Meacham is titled, “Tumult, Tragedy and Hope: America in 1968 from a Half Century’s Perspective.”

The 7:30 p.m. lecture is free and open to the public. Table sponsorships and tickets for the pre-lecture benefit reception and dinner are now available for purchase. For more details visit www.HumanitiesNebraska.org.

From the board and staff of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, congratulations to Pamela Hilton Snow for being awarded the 2018 Sower Award in the Humanities. This award recognizes Mrs. Snow’s tremendous leadership, commitment and dedication to furthering the humanities in Nebraska. She has, and continues to, cultivate a legacy which has empowered communities and inspired many.

Please consider joining the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and Humanities Nebraska, along with the Nebraska Arts Council, as we, too, cultivate a legacy for the arts and humanities in Nebraska.

NCE Participates in Give to Lincoln Day and Omaha Gives!

Each year, the community comes together to support its favorite causes on one day! NCE encourages you to support YOUR favorite cultural organizations in Lincoln and Omaha on May 23 for Omaha Gives and May 31 for Give to Lincoln Day!

The Nebraska Cultural Endowment is participating in both days and is grateful for the tremendous support from our community. Thank YOU for supporting Nebraska’s cultural future on either Omaha Gives or Give to Lincoln Day!

Click the links below to support us!

Give to Lincoln Day, now until May 31: https://www.givetolincoln.com/nonprofits/nce

Omaha Gives, now until May 23: https://www.omahagives.org/NCE/overview

NCE Board Member Robert Nefsky Awarded Leonard Thiessen Award

Board Member Robert Nefsky, Recipient of the 2018 Leonard Thiessen Award

 

Earlier this month, our board member Robert Nefsky was awarded the Leonard Thiessen award at the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards. I had the privilege of asking Mr. Nefsky a few questions about the award, and his involvement in the arts.

JL: Congratulations on winning the Leonard Thiessen award! How does it feel to be recognized with this honor?

RN:I am honored to be in the same company as the past recipients of the Leonard Thiessen award, and in the company of those of who work every day to bring the arts to Nebraskans.

JL: The Thiessen is awarded “to an individual who…typifies the highest degree of commitment to the arts in Nebraska.” From helping found the NCE and serving as the founding director of the Friends of Sheldon Film theater, to serving on the boards of numerous arts and culture non-profit organizations, it’s clear that you are a fierce advocate for arts and culture in Nebraska. What motivates this passion?

RN: My interest in the arts and culture comes from a lot of sources. The arts and culture, particularly the arts and the humanities, are important parts of our life. I like being part of a team that builds things that serve the common good. Having decided to live in my hometown of Lincoln as an adult, I want access to the same kinds of things: arts, culture, education and history, that I might have if I lived in a larger place. The way to get these things is to work with others to bring them here, support them and enhance them.

JL: As someone whose main profession is relatively distanced from art, what advice do you have to people who aren’t necessarily artists themselves, but want to support the arts?

RN: Actually, that’s not as true as one might think. My initial work for nonprofit organizations has involved pro bono legal work or using my legal skills to help structure something. Just as in business, the success of a charitable venture depends on a strong base, attention to the details and a commitment to internal and external integrity. In my experience, a great idea needs to be executed well to succeed. That said, get involved.  It’s interesting and engenders passion.

JL: Thank you, Mr. Nefsky!

If you’d like to hear more, be sure to check out his video here. Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards!

Putting to practice my knowledge and skills is my livelihood

Josh’s Story:

Since completing my MFA in 2010, I have endeavored to make art the foundation of my livelihood. Though I am a practicing studio artist, I do not rely on the sale of my work for an income. A quick look at my website will demonstrate my lack of broad, commercial appeal… Instead, I derive a livelihood from the knowledge and skills accumulated from the pursuit of making my work.

Putting this philosophy to practice, I have taken on several roles; teaching art courses part-time at the university level, working as an on-call museum preparator, serving as an art department shop technician, and currently in a full-time capacity, as the Residency Arts Technician at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. My multifaceted employment history comes in handy at the Bemis, where all staff must wear multiple hats and possess a depth of utility. My primary responsibility is overseeing the Okada Sculpture and Ceramics Facility and providing technical support and process demonstrations to the artists-in- residence, though it’s not uncommon for me to be unclogging a drain, interviewing an intern candidate, or handling artwork for the exhibitions program. For the most part, my position is quite literally a collage of my past occupations, a synthesis of my experience as a teacher, an art handler, a fabricator, a technician, and an artist. That being said, I am still engaged in “the hustle”, as I teach a 3-D foundations course at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the evening.

Having a livelihood with many moving parts has its measure of challenges. Navigating museum practices, researching and maintaining shop equipment, instructing college art students and (now) professional artists in the operation of a multitude of power tools and fabrication techniques, presents an array of (related, but equally involved) subjects vying for my attention. At times, it’s easy for me to lose sight of the big picture, or in other words, undercut the career that prompted my vocational abilities – being an artist, and more specifically, a sculptor.

Through a healthy dose of self-reflection, reinforced by natural porosity, my stuttering (yet persistent) studio practice has evolved along side my livelihoods. Completing the circle, my years of exhibition fabrication, tool investigation, and building organizational, shop fixtures have found a ready home in my sculpture. Part bricoleur, part tradesman, I mine my immediate environments for construction materials and found objects to break down and reorganize with my growing aptitude for carpentry – a direct byproduct of my livelihood.

 

About Josh:

Sculptor Josh Johnson makes connections between two environments — one at hand, and the other remembered. His current series, Distance Learning, offers a sideways glance of Plains landscape and the creation of Mount Rushmore, softening the edges between the physicality of what is materially accessible

and the limited view offered by the mind’s eye. Drawing upon the rock formations of the South Dakota Badlands and their fabricated proxies dotting Lincoln’s Antelope Creek greenway, Johnson carves, constructs, and joins second hand materials into lonely vistas alluding to the slippages associated with memory’s shaky hold on place.

Josh Johnson earned a BFA at the University of North Dakota, and an MFA at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has exhibited nationally, including shows at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, the Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis, Colorado State University, and Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati. Josh received a 2016 Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, and was twice selected as a finalist for the William and Dorothy Yeck Young Sculptor’s Competition at Miami University in Oxford, OH. Josh has taught sculpture at Nebraska Wesleyan University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the College of Visual Arts. He is currently the Residency Arts Technician at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE and teaches 3-D foundations at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

 

 

 

A Welcome Address from New Executive Director, Kyle Cartwright

Happy New Year to the Nebraska Cultural Endowment’s partners, friends, constituents and beneficiaries!

I am thrilled to be serving our cultural communities with you through the mission of the NCE and our partner organizations, Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities Nebraska. This year marks 20 years of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment creating sustainability funding for our state’s cultural resources. It is thanks to the vision and initiative of the Nebraska Legislature, and the community in response, that we have this truly unique asset in Nebraska.

Continue Reading…

A Farewell Message From Executive Director, Marian Fey

Today marks the start of my final week as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Together we have accomplished much, reaching record fundraising goals and growing the circle of supporters to the arts and humanities throughout the state. Thank you for your commitment to Nebraska’s artists, programs, and organizations! Continue Reading…