Arts Business Education Consortium awards local leaders


The Arts Business Education Consortium held its annual award luncheon on Thursday, honoring community leaders for their contributions to art and education.

With walls covered in the artwork of area students and performances by Air Academy High School’s a cappella group and jazz choir, the atmosphere in the Antlers Hotel banquet room was one of artistic celebration.

After a performance of mixed-topic comedy and music by keynote speaker/comedian/singer Ron Feingold, the excitement began.

Here are some highlights:

Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Sally Hybl and Betty Ross accept the Bee an Arts Champion award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Sally Hybl and Betty Ross accept the Bee an Arts Champion award.

Perhaps the most emotional award was presented, for the first time ever, to a group of people rather than an individual. David Siegel, presenting the Bee an Arts Champion Award from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, lauded the contributions of Murray and Betty Ross, former UCCS chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak and Sally Hybl, all of whom contributed to the Ent Center for the Arts, which is set to open in 2018. Murray Ross, who passed away earlier this year, began TheatreWorks in 1975 and, according to Siegel, “set in motion the thriving theater community we enjoy today.”

Accepting the award, Betty Ross, Shockley-Zalabak and Hybl received a standing ovation. Shockley-Zalabak said of their missing honoree, “Murray’s quest for excellence changed our community.”

Along with the honor itself, the Bee an Arts Champion Award comes with $1,000 to be donated to the organization of the recipient’s choice. Appropriately, the three have decided to put that money into the Murray Ross Artistic Endowment at UCCS.

Another standing ovation greeted the family honored for the ABE’s Unique Project award. In response to the high number of local teens who completed suicide last year, the Weien family began painting their fence with bright imagery and messages of hope and love. Now, more than 1,000 people have participated in the mural project, which the family calls “Spray the Love.” Jim Ciletti, who presented the ABE awards, said that this is an example of how a community can “heal, strengthen and connect through the arts.”

Our own Indy chairman, John Weiss, received a new award to the ABE — The COPPeR Community Support of Arts Education Award — for his creation of the Indy Give campaign. Last year, Indy Give raised more than $1 million for local nonprofits. Andy Vick, presenting the award, said: “Many organizations have been empowered [by Indy Give] to do their best work and support children across the Pikes Peak region.”

Tom Naughton accepts the Business Support of the Arts award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Tom Naughton accepts the Business Support of the Arts award.
To acknowledge the contributions of the business community, Dirk Draper of the Colorado Springs Chamber honored Tom Naughton, the regional president of U.S. Bank, with the Business Support of the Arts award. Draper called Naughton a “longtime supporter of the arts” both personally and otherwise.

In addition to the above, Barbara Jack of the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind received the award for Distinguished Visual/Literacy Arts Teacher; Amy Keating of Discovery Canyon Campus was honored with The Distinguished Performing Arts Teacher award; Randy Zimmerman of CIVA Charter School received the Distinguished Administrator award; and Jenifer Erickson of Calhan School was honored for Ongoing Support for the Arts.

Kate Perdoni, director of The Pikes Peak Art Council, honored three individuals with PPAC awards: The Award in Arts Advocacy was gifted to Leah Lowe, who works with District 12 and Concrete Couch; The Fine Arts Center’s Nathan Halvorson was honored in the category of Arts Education; and Colorado College’s Aaron Cohick of the Press at CC and the NewLights Press received the Education Institution award.

Beyond the awards to community leaders, the ABE also honored 15 students with Mary Lou Anderson scholarships, and two teachers with $300 micro-grants.

See photos of the honorees below:

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