Gov. Hickenlooper wins national arts leadership award

January 23, 2015
Photo: Gov. John Hickenlooper signs measure (AP Photo)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper passes out pens to members of the Legislature at a ceremony in Denver on Friday, May 18. 2012, after he signed a measure into law to increase tax rebates and incentives for film production in Colorado.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper received the 2015 National Award for State Arts Leadership at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Friday. 

Americans for the Arts, a national lobbying group for advancing the arts and arts education, and The United States Conference of Mayors presented the governor with the award at the mayors’ winter meeting.

“Gov. Hickenlooper embodies the best of what a civic leader can do to promote the arts,” Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert L. Lynch said in a written statement. “He understands the important role the arts play in advancing the economy and uniting communities.”

“There are many people to thank who contributed to the successes in the City of Denver and in the State of Colorado," Gov. Hickenlooper said in a written statement. "Advancing the cultural and artistic profile of any place requires the collaboration and support of many people including elected officials, hard-working staff and the community at large.”

Margaret Hunt, director of Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), the state arts agency, pointed to Hickenlooper's cultural achievements both as mayor and governor. 

"As mayor, he rallied the community to build the Clyfford Still Museum," Hunt said. "And the fact that he did this at a time when the economy was so bad makes the accomplishment even more significant."

Hunt said that during his first term as governor, Hickenlooper passed legislation that enabled CCI to become the first state arts agency in the country to invest in real estate development in creative districts. 

And she also attributed the governor's high profile as an advocate for the arts nationwide to his championing of the Biennial of the Americas, an international festival of ideas, arts, and culture hosted in Denver, Colorado on alternating years.

"This award gives us a greater opportunity to advance the arts agenda," Hunt said. 

According to Hunt, one cultural project that Hickenlooper is working on right now is the "Colorado Music Strategy," which seeks to promote music as an integral part of Colorado's identity. 

Two other awards were presented at the ceremony in addition to the National Award for State Arts Leadership. Local arts leadership awards were presented to Annise Parker, mayor of Houston, Texas, and Nashua, New Hampshire mayor Donnalee Lozeau. 

The ceremony included a performance by opera singer and Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department, accompanied by pianist Justin Snyder.