A music educator and two voices familiar to local radio audiences are among the recipients of the 2021 Community Arts Awards from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. The awards, to be given during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Western Michigan University’s Shaw Theatre, recognize artists, arts organizations and arts supporters in the Kalamazoo area whose efforts enhance the arts in the community.
Two women with long careers in broadcasting and a music educator will receive the Community Medal of Arts, a lifetime achievement award recognizing individuals for their lifetime of contributions and leadership in the arts.
Cara Lieurance, who has been with radio station WMUK since 2001, launched Let’s Hear It, a show featuring local musicians, concerts and other performances. Over two decades, she has welcomed thousands of guests to the studio. In 2004, Lieurance and musician Dave Marlatt created The Pure Drop, WMUK’s Celtic music show, and The Pure Drop Concert Series, bringing world-class traditional musicians to the region for live performances at the Richland Community Hall. More recently, Lieurance has become WMUK’s host for the NPR flagship show, All Things Considered. Outside of the broadcast studio, Lieurance is a musician and vocalist and has performed with groups including Blue Dahlia, Whiskey Before Breakfast and An Dro.
As a radio and television host in the area for more than three decades, Lori Moore is a familiar name to many. A well-respected broadcaster, Moore brought attention to the arts and community events through interviews with guests on her shows, first as morning host on WKZO-AM/FM and then as host of The Lori Moore Show on CW7. Off the airwaves, Moore is an actress and singer and has performed leading roles in community and professional theaters in the area, including the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Western’s University Theater, Farmers Alley and the Barn Theater. She has received many awards, including having Lori Moore Day declared in 2006 by then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in recognition of Moore’s efforts to create positive change during her 25-year broadcasting career.
As the director of the Education for the Arts (EFA) program of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) since 2012, Bryan Zocher has been instrumental in providing Kala-mazoo County youth access to arts programs and education. Under Zocher’s leadership, EFA’s program offerings have grown, as have partnerships he has established among schools, teachers and arts organizations and between students and arts opportunities. As Zocher told Encore in a 2014 interview, “On the one end, EFA is there for those young people who are looking at the arts as a career, but EFA also has many entry points for Kalamazoo County students to explore, create and develop through the arts and for teachers to facilitate different ways of knowing through using the arts to develop creativity, innovation and critical-thinking skills.”
Bell’s Brewery’s longtime support of the local arts community, from its financial support to its creation of a performance venue, has earned it this year’s Business Arts Award, which recognizes businesses committed to creating alliances with the arts and arts organizations in the county.
In its 36-year history, Bell’s Brewery has provided financial support to numerous arts organizations, including the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, Crescendo Academy of Music, the Gilmore Piano Festival, the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony, and Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers. Bell’s support also includes connecting its products with nonprofit organizations, including developing a special beer for the biannual Gilmore Piano Festival. In addition, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe’s back room and outdoor space not only provide opportunities for local artists to perform, but also bring in national touring performers.
The other 2021 Community Arts Awards recipients and the awards they will receive are:
• The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, which will receive the Epic Award, given to a nonprofit organization or program of high artistic quality that serves to enhance community life through the arts. In addition to its museum, collection and exhibitions, the KIA, which has existed for nearly a century, provides arts education for all ages through its Kirk Newman Art School, programs and outreach efforts.
• Mandy Clearwaters and Aubrey Jewel Rodgers, arts educators who will both receive the Gayle Hoogstraten Arts Leadership Award for Arts Education.
Clearwaters, an art teacher with Kalamazoo Public Schools, will receive the award for her efforts to showcase art created by KPS students through participation in the KIA Arts Fair at Bronson Park, the WMU Social Justice Art Competition, the Young Artists of Promise show at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Young Artists of Kalamazoo County shows at the KIA, and Art Hop.
Jewel Rodgers, an animation and art instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media, will receive the award for the work she does outside the classroom mentoring students, showcasing their work and facilitating their exploration of various art mediums, including video, multimedia and graphic design.
• Kerry Hagy, executive director of the South Haven Center for the Arts, who will receive the Gayle Hoogstraten Arts Leadership Award for Arts Administration. Hagy has been on staff at the SHCA since 2016 and was named executive director in June 2018. In this role, she has created opportunities for artists through collaborations with South Haven’s Downtown Development Authority and the South Haven Visitors Bureau. In addition, Hagy’s leadership was instrumental in the SHCA’s successful navigation of the pandemic by guiding the organization’s transition to offering its programs online.
• Judah Gesmundo, a member of the Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers board of directors for more than 20 years, will receive the Theodore C. Cooper Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. Gesmundo is Wellspring’s longest-serving board member and has served in many of the board’s leadership roles. She is a former dancer and dance instructor and is also board secretary of Speak It Forward, a local organization that aims to challenge stereotypes and instill a sense of empowerment and community through spoken-word poetry.
• Morgan Brown will receive the Adam F. Carter Young Artist Award for her work with Rootead Youth Dance Company. Brown, now a freshman at Howard University, has been involved with Rootead since seventh grade, becoming a Rootead facilitator, creating and teaching six-week lesson plans for youth ages 2 to 13. She also has held fundraisers for Rootead youth to travel to Chicago to take master classes and see professional dance companies.