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Conceived in 1973 as a partnership between the IAC and the Office of the Governor, the Governor's Arts Awards program recognizes and honors significant contributions to and profound positive impact on the arts and the state of Indiana. The awards have been are presented every two years, with the exception of the 2015 Governor's Arts Awards, which will be held in April 2016 to celebrate the state's Bicentennial and the Indiana Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary.
Governor’s Arts Awards are awarded to individuals, communities, and corporations that have made a significant contribution to Indiana’s livelihood and heritage. Past recipients include both the famous and less famous of the arts world, major corporations and small businesses, large cities and small towns.
In addition to recognizing key contributors to the arts, the IAC commissions a contemporary Indiana artist to create the awards. The Award's design and recipients are selected by an independent panel of distinguished representatives from Indiana's arts, education, business, public and private sectors. IAC conducts a public call for nominations and the panel reviews and scores nominations based on specific criteria. The criteria emphasize the total body of work or contributions of the nominee and the impact of the nominee's work on the cultural climate of the city, region, the state of Indiana, or on the national and international level. A limited number of recipients are selected from the field of nominees to receive this distinguished honor.