ArtsWestchester Announces 2014 Arts Award Winners

Winners to be honored at an April 4 luncheon at the Westchester Marriott
sponsored by First Niagara

March 20, 2014 (ArtsWestchester) White Plains, NY— Musicians long for a Grammy, actors dream of an Oscar, and Westchester artists and arts organizations hope for an Arts Award. These are conferred annually by ArtsWestchester, which brings together public officials, business leaders and arts enthusiasts to recognize individuals and organizations chosen for their outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Westchester.

This year, eight recipients will be honored at a luncheon on April 4 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown (see complete list below) which is sponsored for the third consecutive year by First Niagara Bank and hosted by CBS 2 Reporter Tony Aiello. Like the Oscars, this year’s event will resemble a red carpet affair, with guests wearing festive head wear as exhibited in ArtsWestchester’s current popular exhibition, HATtitude. For more information, visit:

As title sponsor of the Arts Award Luncheon, First Niagara Managing Director, Enterprise Banking, David Ring says: “First Niagara is pleased to continue this partnership, which ensures the accessibility and diversity of the arts in Westchester County. We know that the arts stimulate creative thinking and make communities stronger, better places where people want to live and work.”

“Arts Awards recognize individuals and organizations whose vision, commitment, and leadership enrich Westchester,” says ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam. “This is our version of the Academy Awards and we hope all will come out to pay tribute to those who create, teach and support the arts in our local communities and make such an outstanding contribution to our cultural development.”

Over 500 guests are expected to attend this event, ArtsWestchester’s 37th Arts Award Luncheon. Awards will be presented in a variety of categories, all listed below.

And the winners are…



Awards in this category are presented to a Westchester County organization or resident who has made a significant contribution to the arts through extraordinary leadership, personal commitment, and philanthropic activities, thereby advancing artistic excellence and enriching the community.

Hannah and Walter Shmerler (Rye) – The Shmerlers’ generosity is a benefit to many organizations in our county including the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, Westchester Philharmonic and ArtsWestchester, where Hannah has served on the board since 1999. The Shmerlers trace their interest in the arts to their own upbringings: both were raised in homes that were rich in music. As a result, they share a passion for helping young people gain access to, and education in, the arts. Among their proudest accomplishments: the Shmerlers have endowed master classes at Purchase Colleges’ Conservatories of Music and Dance and support the Fellows in Residence at Tanglewood Summer Music Festival, summer home of the Boston Philharmonic. In addition, Hannah has served as chair of ArtsWestchester’s Education Committee for several years.


Awards in this category are presented to an artist or individual, group, school district or organization that, through extraordinary vision and leadership, has enriched arts education in Westchester.

Yorktown High School Dance Company, Veronica Dwyer, Director (Yorktown) – Yorktown High School Dance Company has successfully furthered an appreciation of dance among high school students, and has nurtured the skills of talented students for more than 40 years. The company performs in 19 styles of dance, including African, ballet, Broadway tap, Bollywood, hip hop, jazz, Latin, and swing. In addition to its commitment to dance education the company, which has worked with more than 4,000 students over its history, gives young men and women the type of training that encourages leadership, communication skills, and loyalty.

Westchester County Arts Leadership Association (White Plains) – ArtsWestchester will present the Sophia Abeles Education Award to this organization for its efforts to advance education in music, art, theater and dance in Westchester’s public schools. The association’s activities promote strong leadership through the professional development opportunities it provides to both senior administrators and teachers. Art specialists throughout the county benefit from the services Westchester County Arts Leadership Association provides and its ongoing efforts to elevate the importance of the arts to K-12 education.


Awards in this category are presented to a Westchester County non-profit arts organization that has made an important contribution to the growth of Westchester’s cultural life over a significant period of time, and has had an impact beyond its immediate community.

New Choral Society (Scarsdale) – For its 20 years, The New Choral Society has presented outstanding concerts of choral masterworks, building a reputation for excellence based on the musical prowess of its all-volunteer chorus, its track record of showcasing internationally-known singers, and the commissioning of new works that expand the repertoire of classical music.


Awards in this category are presented to an artist, individual, group, school district, organization or agency that has demonstrated extraordinary vision and leadership in using the arts to enhance community life, to increase access to cultural experiences, and to enrich the county’s cultural heritage.

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (Peekskill) – This organization is being recognized for its impact on the City of Peekskill over the past decade. The founders had the vision to establish a center dedicated to the development and presentation of work that broadens understanding of contemporary art in a multicultural, urban community. HVCCA’s annual Peekskill Project transforms the city into an outdoor gallery and inspired the development of a sculpture park at Riverfront Green. In keeping with its mission and vision of promoting innovative, interdisciplinary arts projects, six years ago HVCCA launched what has become an annual program, inviting local writers and actors to develop and perform literary pieces inspired by an exhibition.

Music Therapy Institute of the Music Conservatory of Westchester (White Plains) – The institute was founded in 1986 with one classroom and three outreach partners. Today it has grown to become the largest provider of music therapy services in the Westchester region. Along with 32 partner organizations, the Institute now serves 1,900 on-site children and adults who live with disabilities.

Additional Awards:

Occasionally, an outstanding program, project, individual or organization that deserves recognition beyond one of ArtsWestchester’s standard categories comes to the attention of its committee. In such cases, special awards may be granted at their discretion. The following are two such awards:

PRESIDENT’S AWARD: This year, the President’s Award will be presented to the Village of Ossining for Ossining 3D, an outdoor exhibition of twenty-five sculptures mounted throughout the village to celebrate its bicentennial. The project, which was three-years in the planning, attracted thousands of visitors, raised Ossining’s visibility, and served as a model for other municipalities. Direct and free access was provided to works of art that were created through a wide variety of approaches and materials. Significantly, the project has a long-lived impact because the Village secured three of the works for permanent display.

INNOVATOR’S AWARD: Caramoor Center for Music and Art (Katonah) will be honored for In the Garden of Sonic Delights, a large-scale outdoor sound art exhibition that runs from June through November 2014 at five sites in addition to Caramoor: Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (Peekskill), Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville), Lyndhurst (Tarrytown), the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College (Purchase), and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (Pocantico Hills). The project has been in development for more than five years and features 15 new site-specific works by nationally-recognized artists including Laurie Anderson, Bruce Odland and Bob Bieleck.

Arts Award Luncheon

April 4, 11am – Reception & Boutique, 12pm – Luncheon & Awards

Westchester Marriott
670 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, NY, 10591


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