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NEPR Announces the Recipients of the 10th Annual Arts & Humanities Awards

The New England Public Radio Foundation, Inc. is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 NEPR Arts & Humanities Award. This year, NEPR will honor The Literacy Project; poet and founder of Springfield's Teatro V!da, Magdalena Gómez and music director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn Kuan. It will also celebrate David Tebaldi, Executive Director of Mass Humanities with the first ever "Lifetime Achievement" Arts & Humanities Award. Dr. Tebaldi will retire in October after 33 years at the helm of Mass Humanities. 

Each year, New England Public Radio invites the community to nominate their choice for the award. This year, the station received over 150 nominations from listeners and community members from Pittsfield to Hartford and beyond. 

"It's always a thrill to pore over the nominations that come in," said Dr. Stephen Wittenberg, chair of the NEPR Foundation's Community Engagement Committee, which selects the winners each year. "We are thrilled to honor these four awardees, and to celebrate all who make this region richer with their work." 

This will be the 10th anniversary of the Arts & Humanities Awards, which have recognized 28 individuals and institutions over the past decade including glass artist Josh Simpson, writer Jane Yolen, illustrator Barry Moser, Easthampton City Arts, Community Access to the Arts, Springfield Museums and many others. 

"The Literacy Project has long believed in connecting literacy with literature. We all share the capacity to be uplifted by the power of poetry, prose, and the arts, yet our students are nontraditional participants in the world of arts and humanities," said Judith Roberts, Executive Director of The Literacy Project. "We are deeply honored to have NEPR recognize The Literacy Project students and teachers for the work we do."

Recipients will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 8th at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The celebration benefits the programs and services of New England Public Radio. Tickets are available at  nepr.net

More information on the New England Public Radio Arts & Humanities Awards can be found at  nepr.net

The 2018 Arts & Humanities Award Recipients: 

Magdalena Gómez
Magdalena Gómez was an original member of the Nuyorican Literary Movement, and is cited by poet and scholar Urayoán Noel as "...the bridge between the founding Nuyorican poets and a new generation informed by slam and def poetry." Her book, Shameless Woman , published by Red Sugarcane Press, NYC in 2014, became an instant classic and is included college and university curriculums throughout the U.S. Ms. Gómez was the first Master Teaching Artist with the SmART Schools Network, founded in 1999, and remains on their faculty. She is the co-founder and artistic director of Teatro V!da, the first Latin@ theater in Springfield, MA. In 2010, NYC's Pregones Theater named Ms. Gómez a National Endowment for the Arts Master Artist and produced her selected poems and monologues,  Dancing in My Cockroach Killers as a musical. After multiple successful runs since 2011 in NYC and Los Angeles, the show will have a Washington, D.C. premiere this coming June through July at the renowned Gala Hispanic Theater. Ms. Gómez has been a commentator with New England Public Radio and writes monthly articles for the  African American Point of View News Magazine . In 2017, Teatro V!da was invited to become the Theater in Residence at the Bing Arts Center in Springfield, MA. Ms. Gomez has been a powerful contributor to the region's art scene for years and has touched almost every corner of the region with her work. New England Public Radio is proud to honor her commitment to developing a passion for the arts among women and young people, and for sharing her unique voice with those in our community and on the national stage.

Carolyn Kuan, Music Director of The Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Recognized as a conductor of extraordinary versatility, Carolyn Kuan has enjoyed successful associations with top-tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide. Her commitment to contemporary music has defined her approach to programming and established her as an international resource for new music and world premieres. Appointed Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in 2011, she has recently signed a new six-year contract extending their creative collaboration through May 2022. She is a true and valued asset to the greater Hartford arts community and to music lovers across the region, and NEPR is thrilled to honor her many accomplishments as music director for the HSO.

The Literacy Project
There are really no stronger or truer testimonies to the transformative potential of literature and the arts than those offered by Literacy Project students: "What this program has given me you cannot begin to imagine. It has given me back my tomorrows." The Literacy Project (TLP), with classrooms in Ware, Orange, Greenfield, Amherst, and Northampton, has been teaching reading and writing and preparing adult students in the Pioneer Valley for the high school equivalency exam for 34 years. Through its work, more than 300 adults a year discover the power of reading and writing for their own lives. If not for The Literacy Project, many of these adult students would be left out in the margins of society. They are immigrants and refugees, formerly incarcerated men and women, young mothers, recovering drug addicts and homeless veterans. They are the working poor and recipients of DTA (welfare). TLP helps give voice to those who might otherwise be silenced. Those voices are a crucial component of the cultural fabric of our communities. "The extraordinary work that The Literacy Project does not only provides much needed basic skills but also develops a love of story and a sense of voice in people whose words and perspectives are generally not valued in this society," says Amherst College Professor Karen Sanchez-Eppler, one of many who nominated The Literacy Project for the 2018 Arts & Humanities Award. New England Public Radio is thrilled to honor the work of The Literacy Project with the Arts & Humanities Award.

David Tebaldi, Mass Humanities
After 33 years as Executive Director of Mass Humanities, Dr. David Tebaldi will be retiring in October of 2018. During his tenure, Dr. Tebaldi has overseen the funding and implementation of hundreds of programs that have made the humanities available to the public of western Massachusetts in innumerable ways. Recent highlights include the Clemente Course in the Humanities in Springfield and Holyoke, through which low-income adults are offered tuition-free, college-accredited introductory classes in the humanities; Reading Frederick Douglass community readings in Amherst, Charlemont, North Adams, Pittsfield, Plainfield, and Springfield; the establishment of Public Humanities Centers at Berkshire Community College and Holyoke Community College in 2016; and grants which have totaled more than $2 million awarded to hundreds of nonprofit organizations and public agencies, for an amazing variety of programs presented to all kinds of audiences.

"David has for 33 years been a leader in opening doors to the humanities for all," said Robert Pura, President of Greenfield Community College, one of many who nominated Dr. Tebaldi for the Arts & Humanities Award. "In doing so he is bringing all that is good and right out from the walls of the academy and into the lives of those who all too often have no access. He is making the humanities an experience for the betterment of life and not just an area of study. He is the real deal Humanitarian." New England Public Radio is thrilled to honor Dr. Tebaldi with the first Arts & Humanities "Lifetime Achievement" Award in honor of his 33 years of service at Mass Humanities.

Click here to learn more information on the Arts & Humanities Awards and past recipients or contact Vanessa Cerillo, Director of Marketing and Communications at 413.735.6605 or vcerillo@nepr.net.