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2012 Public Leadership in the Arts Awards Announced

By Tom McClimon
January 30, 2012

For the 15th consecutive year, The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts recognized public officials and artists for their contributions to the arts. This year's honorees were Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz; Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis; and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Emmy-nominated actress Holland Taylor was honored with the 2012 Citizen-Artist Award.

"Every year, The U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes the efforts of those who believe as much as we do, that the arts are the heart of our society. Arts and culture help shape a city's quality of life, but mayors also understand the connection between the arts and business and the arts' impact on the local economy," said Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran.

"Governor Quinn and Mayors Kautz and Ortis have each demonstrated their dedication to thoughtfully using the arts to spur economic development while enhancing the quality of life in the communities they serve," said Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs of Americans for the Arts. "And Holland Taylor shows us how well-known artists can put their visibility to good use, advancing the arts and other causes that help improve the human condition."

Chair of the Conference's Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee New Orleans Mayor Mitch Ladrieu moderated the awards ceremony. The mayor began by encouraging everyone to attend the World Cultural Economic Forum that will be held in New Orleans, May 2–4.

The Honorees

Kautz has insisted that art play a major role in the highly successful Heart of the City — a mixed-use redevelopment project in Burnsville's revived downtown area. Additionally, she is a prime supporter of the annual city Art and All That Jazz Festival that attracts over 10,000 music fans to an outdoor concert setting. She was a central proponent of the city's $20 million Performing Arts Center, which was constructed without any new taxes, relying instead on revenues from the Tax Increment Financing and landfill host feels. Since its initial construction, she spearheaded an initiative that resulted in the addition of an art gallery to the Center. Under her leadership, the Center now hosts a wide variety of community arts groups, performing arts educational groups, professional national touring acts, dance competitions and recitals, all manner of musical productions and eight to ten significant art shows annually. What's more, it has become a boon to Burnsville's economy; property values have increased and the city's tax base has expanded.

Recognizing that the arts were the key to Pembroke Pines' vitality, Ortis made it his mission to build arts and cultural resources into the city. His efforts include visionary initiatives to invest in much-needed infrastructure, including theater, classroom and studio space, as well as increasing opportunities for residents of all ages to enjoy and participate in the arts. He has been instrumental in the establishment of arts resources in Pembroke Pines, including Studio 18. This 11,000 square foot creative re-use facility was transformed from a dilapidated state hospital laundry into an arts center that offers arts classes and showcases contemporary art. Each year, the city underwrites nine free outdoor jazz performances that feature local jazz musicians and hosts the Pembroke Pines Arts Festival, an annual, two-day, outdoor arts celebration that features the work of nearly 100 artists. It attracts more than 15,000 visitors each year

Throughout his public service career, Quinn has been a strong and vocal supporter of the arts and arts education and has remained committed to ensuring that all Illinois residents have meaningful opportunities to experience and participate in the arts. In addition, he often uses the bully pulpit of his office to celebrate artists and raise awareness about the essential role the arts play in the social, economic and educational growth and vitality of Illinois. He used his discretionary powers to restore $1 million in funding to the Illinois Arts Council in FY 2011 and an additional million dollars in FY 2012. His leadership contributed to the passage of the Live Theatre Production Tax Credit Act for Illinois. Through the use of the credit, Illinois has created a tool that allows the city and state to further develop Illinois as a leader in theatrical tourism. Further, he has invested state resources in the new soundstage development, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, making Illinois a particularly attractive film destination. Quinn included arts related projects in the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, including a new Performing Arts Center at Western Illinois University that will create 400 jobs.

Taylor's career has spanned more than four decades. She has worked extensively in film and television, appearing in Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, To Die For, Next Stop Wonderland, One Fine Day, George of the Jungle, The Truman Show, Happy Accidents, Spy Kids (2 & 3), Keeping the Faith, Legally Blonde, and Baby Mama, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. On television, she has been nominated for an Emmy Award® seven times, winning Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her popular rose Judge Roberta Kittleson on The Practice. Among her numerous series starring roles: The Powers that Be, Norman Lear's short-lived but highly acclaimed political satire, Bosom Buddies, with Tom Hanks, and, currently, Two and a Half Men, with Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher. She has performed narrations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Essa-Pekka Salonen and John Adams, and narrated the Harry Potter Suite, for John Williams at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.