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Conceived in 1973 as a partnership between the IAC and the Office of the Governor, the Governor's Arts Awards program recognizes and honors significant contributions to and profound positive impact on the arts and the state of Indiana. The awards have been presented every two years, with the exception of the 2015 Governor's Arts Awards, which will be held in April 2016 to celebrate the state's Bicentennial and the Indiana Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary.
Governor’s Arts Awards have been given to individuals, communities, and corporations for significant achievements in, or contributions to the arts in Indiana and beyond. Past recipients include artists, philanthropists, advocates, and educators who have made their mark in the arts on the international, national, or community level. Businesses and communities of all sizes have also received the award.
The Award's recipients are selected by an independent panel of distinguished representatives from Indiana's arts, education, business, public and private sectors. The IAC conducts a public call for nominations, and the panel reviews and scores nominations based on the nominee's total body of work and the impact of the nominee's work on the cultural climate of the city, region, the state of Indiana, or on the national and international level. A limited number of recipients are selected from the field of nominees to receive this distinguished honor.
In addition to recognizing key contributors to the arts, the IAC commissions an Indiana artist to design and create each award. The artist is selected through a statewide call for artists by the same independent panel that selects the Award's recipients.