Congratulations to the 2019 Honorees

And thank you for all that you do to support, inspire and cultivate arts and culture in Arizona!

Shelley Award | Joanie Flatt

Longtime arts advocate Joanie Flatt received the Shelley Award, for her work advancing the public initiatives that built the Mesa Arts Center and the Tempe Center for the Arts, as well as her leadership in fundraising campaigns for Childsplay and the Arizona Theatre Company, among other activities. The Shelley Award, presented annually since 2005, goes to an individual who has advanced the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona.

Philanthropy Award | Susan & Bill Ahearn (Phoenix)

Bill and Susan Ahearn’s philanthropy flourishes at the intersection of the arts, natural conservation and American history. In 2018 alone, the Ahearns made significant commitments to capital and maintenance improvements at ASU Gammage, the Ahearn Desert Conservation Laboratory at the Desert Botanical Garden, an Arizona PBS documentary celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Canyon as a National Park (February 2019), and production and promotion of an Arizona tour of “Man In The Arena: Theodore Roosevelt” (coming spring 2019).

The Ahearns also are active volunteers. Susan Ahearn has accumulated more than 16,000 volunteer hours at the Desert Botanical Gardens in the research department assisting in conservation, field work and the herbarium.  Bill often can be found taking pictures of Gammage’s Camp Broadway participants, or using his engineering skills to map out the logistics for Gammage campus events. In so many ways, the Ahearns prove arts and culture truly can be an integral part of our lives.

Philanthropy Award | James & Louise Glasser (Tucson)

Many are the Southern Arizona cultural institutions that have benefitted from the generosity of James and Louise Glasser – through financial support, as well as active leadership that encourages others to support institutions which help make Southern Arizona a better place to live.

The pair share board membership in an array of cultural and community organizations. James is a longtime board member of the Center for Creative Photography and the Humanities Seminars Program Board at the University of Arizona (UofA), as well as the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Board. Louise serves on the Board of the College of Fine Arts at UofA, the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and the Sonoran Institute. In these and many others, they are “hands-on” in their involvement.

Most recently, they provided a leadership gift to renovate the TMA galleries which was matched with $650,000 from other donors, and Louise also chaired the Sonoran Institute’s Endowment Campaign.

Artist Award | Craig Bohmler (Scottsdale)

Craig Bohmler has been contributing to the Phoenix arts community for more than three decades as a composer, musician, musical director, vocal coach and artistic mentor. At the same time, his work, including his musicals “Enter the Guardsman” and “Gunmetal Blues,” has earned him national and international repute. Locally, he has collaborated with Arizona Opera, Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company and Musical Theatre of Arizona.  He’s also trained a generation of young Arizona performers through his work as a vocal coach and musical theatre director. Many of his compositions illuminate and celebrate the spirit of the Southwest, notably “Riders of the Purple Sage, which made its world premiere at the Arizona Opera in 2017. In total, he has composed four operas and 12 musicals as well as numerous art songs, concerti, wind ensemble, choral and symphonic works.

Individual in Arts Education | Erica Herman (Casa Grande)

Erica is a Casa Grande native who knew she would be an artist from the time the first crayon was placed in her hand. A proud graduate of Casa Grande Union

High School and Central Arizona College, she then traveled the world before obtaining  a Bachelors’ degree in Elementary Education and a Master in Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico. She’s taught for the past 21 years in the same school she attended, imparting her love for the arts, as well as showing young people how arts can help heal through activities like engaging past and present participants in the juvenile court diversion program in painting community murals. Her community involvement also extends beyond her school to service on the Casa Grande Arts and Humanities Commission, the local art museum and fine arts association, Arizona Association for the Gifted, Arizona Education Association, National STEAM Council,  and Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Organization in Arts Education | Arts for All, Inc. (Tucson)

Arts for All makes the arts accessible for young people and adults with disabilities and from low-income homes. During fiscal year 2017-18, 70 percent of the students had a disability and 85 percent came from low-income homes. The main programs also integrate children of all abilities in the same classroom which provides learning experiences beyond the arts discipline. It is a setting where children with disabilities interact with typically developing children in a normal environment. The exposure is valuable both ways as children with disabilities learn from the behavior other children model and other children learn about the differences that exist among us all. Arts for All also offers summer/winter day camps and a day program for adults with disabilities.

Large Business | Desert Financial Credit Union (Phoenix)

Desert Financial Credit Union is the largest credit union in Arizona, operating 47 branches and service centers throughout Gila, Maricopa, and Pinal counties. Since its inception in 1939, Desert Financial has been a proponent of the arts in bettering the community and it continues to promote a culture that gives back, both through employee volunteerism and in dollars, to organizations throughout the Valley that champion the arts. Since 2003, Desert Financial has provided immense support to the staff and programs at Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, recognizing the impact of art in healing aspects of trauma. Since the beginning of their partnership with Free Arts, Desert Financial has provided more than $107,000 in corporate and employee donations. Also, as a sponsor of ASU Gammage’s Broadway Across America program, Desert Financial donates its allotted tickets to Free Arts alumni and uses its marketing benefits in the playbill to promote the Qualifying Foster Care Charitable tax credit on behalf of Free Arts. This year, it also partnered with Gammage to provide copies of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to a Title 1 school.

Small Business | Manley Films and Media (Phoenix)

Manley Films and Media, located in downtown Phoenix, has grown from one employee to 10 and has aligned itself with some of the most influential companies in Arizona, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona, U-Haul, Honeywell Aerospace and Fiesta Bowl. Manley Films is a full-service marketing agency specializing in video, still photography, and every facet of marketing and content creation. Offering cutting-edge video production, photography and marketing expertise, Manley Films and Media supports the arts in Arizona with valuable in-kind donations and community partnerships, allowing the state’s finest non-profit arts organizations to achieve quality and sophistication of digital marketing that would be unattainable without Manley’s support.

Community | PSA Art Awakenings (Phoenix)

PSA Art Awakenings was born in 2000 out of PSA Behavioral Health Agency, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in 1971 whose mission is to enhance and empower the mental health community through creativity, innovation, and diversity. PSA Art Awakenings began as a consumer-run business with funding from the Rehabilitation Services Administration and only five adult consumers creating and selling artwork. PSA Art Awakenings has grown into a nationally recognized psychosocial rehabilitation program with 18 studios in five Arizona counties and five galleries serving over 4,000 youth and adult artists annually – all working toward empowerment and recovery through creativity. They and their work also are featured in numerous local exhibitions and galleries in communities as diverse at Phoenix, Casa Grande, Phoenix and Bisbee, among others.


Individual Award | Vincent VanVleet (Phoenix)

Vincent grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, dreaming of one day being on the stage. His dream led him to Barat College on Chicago’s North Shore, where he fell in love with William Shakespeare and got his first professional break. He went on to work as Production Stage Manager with Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director at Writer’s Theatre Chicago, and joined Phoenix Theatre in 1998, where he is currently celebrating his 20th anniversary season. As Managing Director, he has stewarded more than 250 productions to the stage. Vincent was named one of the Valley’s top “40 Under 40” by the Phoenix Business Journal in 2012, and a Piper Fellow by the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in 2015. As a result of his fellowship he has advanced new models for audience development through research and concierge management of patrons, for developing adequate capitalization for theatres and generally understanding that strong, organizational infrastructure is key to sustaining arts organizations.