ArtCentre of Plano’s For the Love of Art 2017 Honorees

Co-chairs Jean Ellis Newman and Sue Whitehurst with honoree Gene Dillard

On Oct. 28 the ArtCentre of Plano honored individuals and organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the arts in Plano at its annual “For the Love of Art” event. Honorary event chairs were Deepa and Raj Menon, longtime supporters of the arts. Event co-chairs were artist Jean Ellis Newman and community volunteer Sue Whitehurst.

The ArtCentre of Plano is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage, support and promote excellence, diversity, and vitality in the arts and art education in North Texas. The ArtCentre brings outstanding art exhibitions to its new home in the renovated, historic Saigling House in the Downtown Plano Arts District.

Co-chair Sue Whitehurst with Alex Hargis, accepting on behalf of Historic Downtown Plano Association // photos Mike Newman

2017 “For the Love of Art” Honorees:

Arts Patron Award: The Shops at Willow Bend – The Starwood Retail Group
The Shops at Willow Bend was honored for its support of the Plano Children’s Theatre. The Shops is providing more than $1 million in constructions costs and future rent as part of Plano Children’s Theatre’s move to the mall. The facility will also house the North Texas Performing Arts office.

Arts Education Award: Plano ISD Fine Arts Department
The department is responsible for curriculum and instructional support services for music, visual art, theatre, speech and more. The department has inspired thousands of Plano ISD students to pursue careers in the arts and to further develop their talents personally and commercially.

Arts Leadership Award: Cigna
Cigna has provided funding for a new afterschool arts program at the Salvation Army in East Plano.  This program provides music lessons to underserved children that would not otherwise be able to learn and participate in music. Cigna has been a great corporate partner in bringing together several nonprofits to benefit the children.

Artist Award: Gene Dillard
Gene Dillard is a recognized portrait artist with a background of extensive academic training and experience in the graphics field. He has taught classes at SMU, the Dallas Art Institute and in the School of Visual Arts at the University of North Texas. His works have been exhibited widely and he has been commissioned frequently for his portrait expertise.

Arts Organization Award: Historic Downtown Plano Association
The Historic Downtown Plano Association supports the ongoing vibrancy and beautification of the arts district for the benefit of the entire community. It produces unique events each year that are family-friendly and celebrate the arts and cultural heritage of the unique district.

Arts Volunteer Award: Anu Appaji
Anu Appaji is a dedicated community volunteer recognized for her commitment to the arts. A graduate of Leadership Plano, she quickly immersed herself in the arts community by joining the board of the ArtCentre of Plano and volunteering to redesign its website. She is a master of social media and works daily to ensure that the arts are front and center.

Impresario Award: The City of Plano
The City of Plano is being honored for its support of the arts. Among the numerous examples of its commitment to making the cultural arts a foundation of community life are public art, including the mural project and the sculptures which will soon grace the entrance to downtown Plano; the renovation of the Saigling House as a home for the ArtCentre of Plano and its support of the Downtown Plano Arts District.

Special Recognition Award: Theatre Britain (Sue and Ian Birch)
Theatre Britain has developed a strong fan base in Plano of theater lovers who recognize and appreciate the unique plays produced by Sue Birch, co-founder, artistic director and executive producer, and her husband, Ian Birch, the company’s production manager. The company has given many opportunities for up and coming local artists to hone their British accents.

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