C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement in and Contribution to the Arts
A steadfast champion of arts, culture, and community, Rosa DeLauro has served as a U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 3rd congressional district since 1991. While she is perhaps best known for her advocacy of women’s professional and reproductive rights, working families, higher minimum wage, and federally-subsidized nutrition assistance—all issues that affect the arts every day—she has also made the arts a direct priority, acting as a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus for over two decades. Through her 27 years of service, she has been vocal in her support for the National Endowment of the Arts, literacy initiatives, and arts education in schools.
Jackie Downing may now be the Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Effectiveness at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, but her tradition of nurturing arts, culture, and community in greater New Haven goes decades back. After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University, she became an arts and community advocate at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Dixwell Community “Q” House, Capital for Change, and the Town of Hamden among others. She has kept her own creativity alive as an actor, producer and stage manager with the Whitney Players, Center Stage, and New Haven Ballet.
Hanan Hameen is a visionary artist, activist, and longtime arts leader in New Haven. The daughter of local jazz legend Jesse Hameen II, Hanan founded the Artsucation Academy Network in 2005 to provide community members with passion, drive, and creative and leadership skills. She serves as the founder and director of Ms. Hanan’s Dance and Beyond, director of Neighborhood Music School’s Premiere Dance Company, founding member of the New Haven Hip-Hop Conference, artistic director of the Healing Drum Society, and a support group facilitator for the Lupus Foundation of America.
Ruby Melton is a true arts champion and mentor. The retired Deputy General Counsel for Louis Dreyfus Highbridge Energy, she has been a steadfast supporter of the arts for decades, serving on the boards of Long Wharf Theatre, the Shubert Theatre, National Council for the American Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Gateway Community College Foundation, Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, and Shepherds, Inc. Ruby has taken a broad lens and hands-on approach to the arts in New Haven, extending her expertise to mentorship initiatives with high school students in the city. She is, as Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Director Sarah Lubarsky put it, a phenomenal calm in the storm.
The founder of Arts Interstices and Verge Arts Group, Elinor Slomba has made arts and culture a personal mission. After arriving in New Haven over a decade ago, she served as director for the city’s Project Storefronts program, adding the “Made In New Haven” initiative to her wheelhouse in 2016. She has served as cultural point person, trusted advisor, and curator with The Future Project, The Grove, Artspace New Haven, and the New Haven Museum, curating Old School Ink: New Haven Tattoos at the museum in 2017. She has also worked at Buffalo organization Locust Street Art, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and as an independent arts consultant.
Hanifa Nayo Washington
Hanifa Nayo Washington is a healer, truth-teller, producer, singer songwriter and weaver of community stories. An Inspiring Equity Arts Fellow with the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, she is the curator of a semi-monthly “Lit Happy Hour” series and Program Director of The Word. Her foundation in cultural activism and social justice sprawls across her career from working with homeless teens and food cooperatives in Maine to leadership roles in educational youth development platforms like The Freedom Schooner Amistad and Solar Youth. Her current work in New Haven is grounded in community building, community healing, and community liberation. In 2014 she joined the team of Co-Creating Effective & Inclusive Organizations/Organizers (CEIO) and is currently a leader of the Community Leadership Program. In 2017 she released her 3rd album Mantras for the Revolution and hosted a winter concert series. This past summer she produced and co-directed Toto Kisaku’s Requiem for an Electric Chair which premiered at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Hanifa is a co-working member at Lotta Studio’s The Range and lives in Westville.
Photos of awardees by Lotta Studio
SPONSORED BY METROPOLITAN INTERACTIVE
Lift Up quilt
"One of the traits of a phenomenal woman is that she is committed to lifting others up. She is committed to helping and supporting others. She realizes that there is room in this world for everyone to succeed and knows that by encouraging others, individuals, families and communities are stronger."
Dance by Premier Dance Company at Neighborhood Music School
"The story of the cycle of life as a phenomenal experience through the concept of the woman as the mother and bearer of life, mother earth as our life source, and the relationship between man and woman as the vessels for the physical life experience."
Bitsie Clark Fund for Artists
In the spirit of the Arts Award’s theme of Phenomenal Women, The Bitsie Clark Fund for Artists has been created in honor of the dynamic, transformative former Executive Director of the Arts Council. The Fund, established by five of her proteges - now called the Bitsie Chicks - is designed to strengthen and enrich our community by investing in its artists. The Bitsie Chicks will briefly describe this new Fund, and present its first award at the Arts Awards this year!