Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Look At the Kendig Awards

I did an interview with Gene Marrano of Public Radio's "Studio Virginia" a little while ago mostly dealing with the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge's Perry Kendig Awards. Tom Field (my business partner in Valley Business FRONT) and I will be presented the first Literary Artist Award from the council Wednesday at the Taubman Museum of Art and I wanted to talk a little bit about the award's history and the guy who gives it his name, so instead of concentrating on Tom and me, Gene and I chatted a bit about what has become the major award for the arts in this region.

This will be the second award for either me or the company I was working for at the time. We picked up one in 2004 while I was editing the Blue Ridge Business Journal. Since I left the Journal in August of last year, I don't recall seeing any arts coverage and no sponsorships, so that part of the legacy is gone. However, we're carrying it on full tilt with FRONT.

The Kendig, named after Perry F. Kendig, the former president of Roanoke College and a man who left a huge mark on the school, was begun in 1985 to celebrate those supporting the arts and that year, Dominion Bank was the winner. The following year, there was a single winner again (painter John Will Creasy) and for the next nearly two decades, the Kendigs honored three people or organizations a year. Last year it went up to four and this year there will be eight, with several new categories, including the literary award (here is this year's list). In 21 years, there have been 59 winners.

The only other print media winner was The Roanoke Times in 1988 (I also worked for The Times at one point) and the only other media winners have been WVTF Public Radio in 1996 and Cox Communications in 1999.

There have been three dual winners, including Dominion Bank and Dominion Bankshares; art critic Ann Weinstein who won by herself and with her husband, Sidney, 1989 and 2000; and me.

Perry Kendig was an interesting man who arrived at Roanoke College as a dean in 1952 and became president in 1963, just as the Civil Rights Movement hit high gear and at the dawn of Vietnam. RC became integrated in 1964 and Kendig guided the small liberal arts college through some choppy waters for the next decade-plus (his tenure ended in 1975) without serious incident.

He was a man who took students seriously (allowing them to help shape the mission of the school) and who was a dedicated supporter of the arts.

The Kendigs are open to the public Wednesday at 6 p.m., but cost a hefty $75 (for that you'll get a good meal, a video and you'll get to see me in a tux--woooooo-hoooooo! You'll also get to support the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, a worthy enterprise if one exists). Call Krista Engl to register at 540-224-1203. Hope to see you there.


  1. Thanks for the explanation. I didn't know the history.

  2. Looking for Kendig Award history to give Libby Camper at Roanoke College who coordinates their half of the award - this helped a lot. I was asked by Lucy Ellett, then TAC president, to work on a new arts award in Roanoke. I
    remembered John Will Creasy as first winner, but thank goodness i just read this - it was Dominion Bank, then Creasy. (He had some 50 nominations as i remember - more than any since. ) Thanks, Dan!