The 2020 Cultural Council Rolls Out the Arts Awards

Megan Reid designed this year’s multi-dimensional glass award.

The Cultural Council Virtual Arts Awards Will Include Violin Virtuoso Phillip Pan, a Caribbean Vacation and One-of-a-Kind Glass Wave Awards

Cultural events are at a standstill but the 44th annual Cultural Council Awards is live-streaming ahead! A virtual fete re-imagined event will be showcased Sept. 2 at 7pm on the Cultural Council, WJCT, and Downtown Vision’s Facebook page and the Jesse Ball DuPont Center website.

The theme of this year’s Arts Awards is “Bridges: Connecting Arts, Business, and Community” which highlights the inter-connectivity between the arts, business and community. Organizers shifted programming to a virtual format ahead of the pandemic to create an accessible and inclusive event celebrating the work of individuals and organizations that contribute to the city’s cultural landscape.

“We started talking in earnest at the beginning of March when things were just starting to shut down. At that point we were like ‘of course by September things will be back to normal’ but because we weren’t sure, let’s really plan it to be virtual. we thought to plan almost in a way that it could be translated to in-person,” says Ellen Cottrill. “We actually set the date for the same time as the September Art walk so if things were back to normal. We could actually show it at the art walk and people could come together and we could show it on a big screen so it would still be like a big event but still be pivotable if something happens.”

That forethought served them well since “here we are, we are still under the order for no big event. We’re really happy the way it worked out,” she says.

Hosted by Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes and co-hosted by Al Emerick, the program will feature dynamic performances, appearances by prominent members of the community and an online auction with trips, gift certificates and artwork by local artists.

An online auction will be held throughout the week leading up to the ceremony with experiences, gift certificates and original pieces from participating local artists.

“We have several artists participating but for us it wasn’t as much about making money from donated art work but to allow the artists a platform to see the art work. This has been so devastating to individual artists during the pandemic,” says Cottrill. “Whatever the wholesale price is that starts the bidding, the artists will get that amount. Anything above that will go to the Cultural Council. It will be just like they are selling to a gallery so I hope people will join in.”

A virtual cocktail party will kick off the festivities on Sept. 2, from 6 to 7pm. Guests will log in with the recipe for a signature cocktail and receive instruction from event partner Chef’s Garden Events and Catering.

“That will take care of the whole mingling part that I think people love about the arts awards that you can’t do when you’re doing a virtual event. It’s a little taste of hanging out, sharing a drink, that kind of thing,” Cottrill says. “It’s sort of a separate event. We’re not charging tickets for the awards because we wanted everyone to be able to participate and watch. There’s no food so it’s not like a regular event and In the past, people haven’t been able to go to the awards because of high ticket prices. On the other hand, it is our main fundraiser of the year so how do we marry those two things?”

Performances include local violin virtuoso Phillip Pan who will deliver an original arrangement of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A drawing for a Caribbean vacation valid through December, 2022 will be held ahead of the award presentations. “If we can’t travel by then we will have much bigger problems,” says Cottrill. “Then we have these spectacular waves that Megan designed and created. You win the award and you’re all excited but this is something they can have in their living room that is beautiful and one of a kind.”

“Then we have these spectacular waves that Megan designed and created. You win the award and you’re all excited but this is something they can have in their living room that is beautiful and one of a kind.”

Megan Reid is a member of the Cultural Council team and an accomplished artist who designed this year’s multi-dimensional glass award. Using a reduction technique, Reid designed a cresting wave in varying shades of cascading glass.

“I was in the Cultural Council’s ARTSee and Shoppe,” she says of the 2019 holiday pop-up event featuring the work of local artists in a gallery setting at Town Center. “I had several of my glass wave designs there. Executive Director Joy Young really liked that particular design and how it related to our logo and this year’s theme.”

Reid is thrilled to have one of her original pieces honor the work of fellow artists. “It’s a very full circle,” she says. “It’s a circular wave as it starts to overlap on itself like a barreling wave. We went with three different colors. The People’s Choice this year is really popular as our new award so we went with gold for that particular piece. We have four that are Lapis blue and four that are clear. The blue and the gold awards are reduced to give it a bit of a metallic touch.”

This year’s program includes a new People’s Choice category which will be chosen, via online voting, throughout the event and announced at the conclusion of the program. The nominees are Nikesha Williams, Word Revolt, Eleana Ohlander and William McMahon.

Nominees for Art Educator are Amanda Holloway, Laurie Hoppock, and Rebecca Levy. The nominees for the Business Award are Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Vystar Credit Union. Businesses nominated for the Small Business Award are PETRA, VOID Magazine and EU Jacksonville. The individuals nominated for the Art of Giving award are Tomas Vercher, Ted & Alexandra Stein, and Mark Krancer.

The nominees for Art Innovator are Mr. Al Pete, Paul Bourcier, and Nicole Radiez. Community Impact award nominees include Nicole Holderbaum, Marguerite Richardson and Basma Alawee. The Helen Lane Founders Award nominees are Maria Hane, Jenny Hager, Shawana Brooks and Roosevelt Watson III. Individuals nominated for the Robert Arleigh White Award for Advocacy are Geexella, Toni Smailagic, Ulysses Owens.

“I want people to get dressed up and get on Zoom and say hi to people during the virtual mingling,” says Cottrill. “Or wear your sweatpants. Just put a nice shirt on.”

The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s mission is to enrich life in Northeast Florida by investing in arts and culture. They serve as the official regranting and administrative agency for City of Jacksonville funding to arts and cultural organizations, as well as provide several programs that benefit artists and arts and culture organizations of all disciplines.

For more information, to buy tickets to the cocktail party and to vote for People’s Choice award, visit


About Liza Mitchell