Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Writers Among Kendig Award Winners (Why?)

Roanoke Childrens Theatre: Category winner.
I was just reading the press release for this year's Perry F. Kendig Awards and was taken aback because Roanoke College and Hollins University employees, for the first time, are not eligible. The schools have teamed up to keep the prestigious Kendigs going, even though the original sponsoring agency, the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge no longer exists.

I was actually going to nominate Ernie Zulia and Todd Ristau from the Hollins Theater Department for one award (performing arts) and Richard Dillard for another (the literary award, which was not given). They are all enormously gifted and deserving and each has made an indelible mark on the theater and on writing in this region and beyond.

This year, there were but three categories: Individual or Business Supporter, Arts and Culture Organization and Individual Artist categories. The first was won by Richard Krurshan, who gave studio space to artists downtown for 10 years; Arts and Culture was won by the deserving Roanoke Childrens Theatre; and Individual Artist was Harriet Stokes, an award long overdue.

I am significantly disappointed, however, that writers are no longer seen as contributors to the arts of the Roanoke Valley (Note: I have won two of the Kendigs, one with the Business Journal and one Literary Award). This is a troubling omission and it should be remedied, especially since Hollins--the school that gives us so many excellent writers and is home to the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference--is a sponsor.

The winners will be honored Nov. 3 at Roanoke College.


  1. I just received this letter form Hollins:

    Dear Dan,

    We read with interest your blog post about the Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards. You expressed some concerns and we just wanted first of all to assure you that artists of any discipline, including writing, can be nominated for the individual award. Indeed, the description of that particular award category on the Kendig Awards website lists “literature” among the discipline examples.

    In regard to the fact that employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are not eligible for the awards: We certainly understand your point about the policy disqualifying some very worthy potential nominees. But, we concluded that allowing our employees to be nominated would present a definite conflict of interest; it would be very problematic for both our organizations if the community perceived we were sponsoring the program as simply a means of honoring ourselves. It is also important to note that our policy follows the precedent set by The Arts Council regarding employee ineligibility.

    We trust this helps to clarify our efforts to recognize arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley, and hope you will join us this Sunday as we honor this year’s Kendig Award winners beginning at 4 p.m. in Roanoke College’s Colket Center Wortmann Ballroom.


    Brook Dickson, Hollins University
    Laura Rawlings, Roanoke College
    Co-Chairs, The Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards

  2. Let me mention that Laura Rawlings is a former director of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge (she was there when I won a Literary Award).

  3. The intended nomination means a lot to me, Dan, thank you! As for Ernie, at least he won the award once before the award's administration changed hands.

  4. Todd: I didn't realize Ernie had won--deservedly--but my thoughts about your worthiness hold firm.

  5. Todd: By the way, I won two Kendigs and I can state without reservation that you are far worthier than I. Not as good looking, but more worthy.