May 4, 2017 at the Phoenician Resort

More than 500 arts supporters from all corners of Arizona and all parts of the community gathered at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale to celebrate the phenomenal individuals and organizations that comprise our vibrant and growing arts sector in Arizona.

8 new honorees joined more 200 individuals and organizations that have been honored since 1981.

10 Pioneers of Advocacy were honored in a special presentation of the Shelley Award alongside a parody of Hamilton's My Shot. Performances from Scorpius Dance, Phoenix Chorale and Phoenix Theatre actors punctuated the evening. 

Our Members video premiered at the 2017 Governor's Arts Awards with a message about what Arizona Citizens for the Arts does and how you can help!

The Shelley Award, named after former Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Director Shelley Cohn, is presented annually to recognize individuals who have advanced Arizona arts and culture through strategic and innovative leadership to create and support public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona. This year, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Shelley Award will recognize a group of individuals – Pioneers of Advocacy – whose dedicated work on behalf of arts and culture during the formative years of arts advocacy in Arizona helped create the vibrant arts and culture environment we enjoy today. 

The individuals recognized truly are “pioneers” of advocacy, each in their own way.  They were leaders in the corporate community, establishing a tradition of corporate support for the arts. They help create institutions like the Arizona Commission on the Arts that serve the arts in every corner of our state. And they provided the leadership for the development of major cultural institutions in Phoenix and Tucson – examples to communities all over Arizona. In so many ways, they are role models for today’s leaders and examples of how dedicated community stewards support arts and culture.


Dino and Beth Murfee DeConcini, Tucson
Arts, philanthropy and advocacy leaders

Katie Dusenberry, Tucson | Corporate philanthropy and arts leader

Shirley Estes, Tucson
Corporate philanthropy and arts leader

Terry Goddard, Phoenix
Former Mayor of Phoenix

Myra Millinger,Phoenix
Foundation leader and arts advocate

Gene Polk, Prescott
Foundation leader and arts advocate

Kim Sterling-Heflin, Phoenix
Corporate philanthropy and arts leader

Richard and Linda Whitney, Phoenix
Arts, philanthropy and advocacy leaders

70 Artists, Arts Organizations, Businesses, Educators and Individuals from 19 Arizona communities were nominated in eight categories this year.

We want to acknowledge ALL of the 2017 nominees, who are wonderful individuals and organizations that do so much for arts and culture in Arizona and deserve to be recognized for their talent, innovation and immense efforts.

On February 20, 2017, nominees, sponsors and guests gathered at Phoenix Theatre to celebrate this year’s nominees and announce three finalists in each category as well as the inaugural Philanthropy Honoree. The celebration consisted of a cocktail hour, live entertainment and a semi-formal program in the Hormel Theatre.

Billie Jo & Judd Herberger were the Presenting Sponsor, APS was the Nominee Reception Sponsor; SRP, the Evening Program Sponsor;  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, the Entertainment & Video Sponsor; J.W. Kieckhefer and Margaret T. Morris Foundations were the Artist Award Sponsor and Sonoran Glass School sponsored the Finalist & Shelley Awards as well as created centerpieces.