Big Muddy Folk Festival by  Friends of Historic Boonville, 1984 Honoree | photo,  Buzz Keiper



Every year since 1983, through our annual Missouri Arts Awards, the Missouri Arts Council has honored our state’s arts heroes—people, organizations, and communities who have made profound contributions to the culture of Missouri.  Here are our 2023 heroes!

Honorees are selected from self-nominations by an independent panel representing Missouri’s arts community throughout the state. The panel’s choices are approved at the Missouri Arts Council board meeting in late October and announced in November.

Are you yourself, your organization, or your community an arts hero?  Nominate yourself here! The deadline is noon on Tuesday, September 5.


Arts Education | Individual or organization that has made significant contributions to arts education either through enhancing the education curriculum within the school system or through creating educational opportunities in the arts outside the school setting

Arts Organization | Outstanding organization actively producing, presenting, or serving the arts

Creative Community | Community (municipality, village or town, business district, tax district, neighborhood association, etc.) that uses the arts to promote economic growth and/or attract tourism, businesses, or residents

Individual Artist | Outstanding artist creating traditional/folk art, electronic media, literary, visual, or performing arts

Leadership in the Arts | Individual who has significantly influenced the arts as a leader

Philanthropy | Individual, organization, foundation, or business that has made significant donations to the arts

Carmen Sofia Dence - 2022 Individual Artist honoree - photo Carol Lara

Carmen Sofia Dence, 2022 honoree for Individual Artist | founder and director of Grupo Atlántico performance troupe, dancer, choreographer, teacher, costume designer and maker, arts volunteer, community leader, five-time Master Artist in our Missouri Folk Arts Program | photo, Carol Lara


The total contribution or body of work of the nominee and the effect this effort has produced on the cultural climate of the city, region and/or state of Missouri are the primary criteria utilized in the selection of the award recipients.

Arts Education | Consider how the nominee is involved the arts in education, how they impact their students, how they influenced education in their area. Include relevant curriculum, programs, and projects. Demonstrate this with statements from educators, parents, students, administrators, and school board members.

Arts Organization | Consider the artistic quality of their work, how they achieve their artistic mission, how they influenced others in the field, how they collaborate with others, and advocate for the arts. Include examples of exhibitions or performances, statements from the field, and examples of community impact. Demonstrate artistic quality with documentation of their work, formal recognitions, or awards.

Creative Community | Consider the type of community including the nature of the community, size, governance, demographics, character, and market. Describe cultural assets, programs, initiatives, how the community utilizes the arts, how the community supports the arts, and how the arts support the community.

Individual Artist | Consider the artistic quality of their work, the scope of their work, and how they influenced others. Include examples of their work, critical reviews, testimonies, and formal recognition or awards. Demonstrate artistic quality with documentation of their work, its depth and complexity, recognitions or awards.

Leadership in the Arts | Consider the impact of their leadership, how the community benefited, and where they influenced the arts (whether on policies, issues, or growth). Include testimonies, documentation of their leadership, programs, initiatives, statements, and recognitions.

Philanthropy | Consider what arts disciplines they support, the impact of their support on the arts community, and the legacy of their philanthropy. Demonstrate this with examples of philanthropic support and statements.


Nominees must be current Missouri residents or a Missouri-based organization or community. Nominees in the Philanthropic category may be a non-Missouri residents but their philanthropy being honored must benefit a nonprofit Missouri arts organization. We welcome self-nominations.

Past Missouri Arts Awards recipients are not eligible to be nominated. Review  the list of prior award recipients to make sure your nominee hasn’t already been honored. (Missouri Arts Council board members and staff and the selection committee and their families are also not eligible.)

Submitting a Nomination

Information Required

1. Contact information for both nominee and nominator (including name, address, city, state, zip, email and phone number).
2. The category in which they are nominated.
3. The significance and/or magnitude of the nominee’s contribution to the arts. The populations served and recognition brought by virtue of the nominee’s achievements.
4. The length of time and/or intensity of the activity dedicated to the arts.

Support Materials

Nominators may include additional materials, for example, resume, support letters, and news clippings, to illustrate the nominee’s contribution to the arts. All supplemental materials must be submitted as PDF files. The maximum length is 14 pages (which equals seven double-sided sheets).

Multiple Nominations

Nominators may submit multiple nominations. In case of multiple categories for the same nominee, please submit a separate nomination form, narrative, and supplemental materials for each category. Ensure that the narrative and supplemental materials are tailored for each category.

Selection Process

The honorees are selected by an independent panel of distinguished representatives of Missouri’s arts community. The selection of the panel members ensures statewide representation. The designated panel reserves the right to close an award category if nominations do not meet specified criteria.

For More Information

Contact Virginia Sanders, Missouri Arts Awards coordinator, at 314-340-6851, TDD 800-735-2966, or


Anyone can submit a nomination for an artist, arts educator, leader, organization, philanthropist, and creative community for the annual Missouri Arts Awards. People can even nominate themselves or their own organization.

Creating a compelling case is not difficult. Here are how-to tips from Virginia Sanders, our Missouri Arts Awards coordinator.

  • Tell real stories, not just list statistics. “How has your nominee had a lasting effect on someone’s life? How has it helped your community?”
  • Small is beautiful. “A small organization, an artist from a small town, an event on a small scale may be having a large impact. A nominee doesn’t have to be big, just worthy.”
  • Go beyond dignitaries for your letters of support. “It’s great to have your legislator, but letters from everyday people who have benefited are powerful, too.”
  • Be succinct. The maximum length for your narrative is two pages. For support materials, the limit is 14 pages. “For an organization, the narrative should include a clearly written history and stories of how helpful the organization has been.”
  • Check your nuts and bolts. “Go back over your application to make sure all your links actually open.”
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t win this year—come back next year. “Use your first nomination as the basis and update it with your latest achievements.”
Anthony Glise - St.-Joseph 2006 Individual Artist

Anthony Glise, St. Joseph | 2006 Individual Artist