Muriel Johnson Award Gala: A Night to Remember!

Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda Proudly Accept the Muriel Johnson Award for Arts Advocacy for Three Decades of Work in the Capital Region’s Arts Scene

 

Ron Cunningham, Carinne Binda, and Beth Ruyak

Ron Cunningham, Carinne Binda, and Beth Ruyak

Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda recently accepted the Muriel Johnson Award for Arts Advocacy for their three decades working to elevate the region’s arts scene.

It is obvious that Sacramento Ballet’s Artistic Director duo exceeded the requirements the Arts & Business Council of the Sacramento Region laid out as criteria for winning this award. The Arts & Business Council wrote:

“Impactful – Insightful – lasting. Whether working in an elected or appointed position, is a public employee who promotes the arts, a business or community leader, this award recognizes an individual or organization who has served the arts community over time – and has inspired a lifetime of value.”

Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda’s Awards Gala Speeches

We are fortunate to have Mr. Cunningham’s speech, and notes from Ms. Binda’s impactful speech from January 2018’s awards gala:

Carinne spoke to the great honor of being given an award in Muriel’s name. Ms. Binda mentioned how indebted to Muriel Johnson the Sacramento community is. Johnson was a true visionary: a woman of passion and tenacity. She was a woman who gave from the heart. Above all, Johnson was a true champion of the arts. Carinne recalled 29 years ago, when Ron excitedly introduced Muriel to her. Muriel Johnson continued to mentor Carinne, offering great wisdom and advice.

Ron had this to say upon receiving the award:

Carinne and I are greatly honored and humbled to be 2018’s Muriel Johnson Award for Arts Advocacy recipients.

Whether artists, consumers, administrators, or donors, all of us in this room tonight are advocates for the arts. Art is not a luxury; it is an essential component of what makes us human and civilized. Art has the ability to inspire, and to transform lives for the better. Those of us that believe in the power of art also hold the responsibility to advocate for it in order to see the arts thrive.

Supporting the arts in this country is generally viewed as encouraging arts education for children, not adults. To me, this attitude depreciates the purpose of art as an activity solely appropriate for children. The arts speak to all humankind, of all ages. Arts give voice to the hopes, dreams, and aspirations revealed through the eyes of the artist. Arts speak the truth and stimulate us to higher purpose. I am personally an example of how art transforms lives. At age 23, I saw the legendary Russian dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. It was the first time I was exposed to the arts and it changed my life. I became a dancer.

 I am personally an example of how art transforms lives. At age 23, I saw the legendary Russian dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. It was the first time I was exposed to the arts and it changed my life. I became a dancer.

The United States is the richest country in the world but our public support for the arts is dismal. Funding for arts falls mainly on the shoulders of generous individual donors. To paraphrase Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire, “We depend on the kindness of strangers.” Advocacy for the Arts should not be reduced to begging for funding with our hats in our hands. It should be seen as a proud investment in the future of our nation. Math, science, and technology are important fundamentals of education, but how much more powerful can great thinkers be when those subjects are joined to creative minds thinking outside the box of convention?

Be constant advocates
Be proud advocates with passion.
Thank you Blue Line Arts, the Sacramento Rebio Arts & Business Council, and thank you Muriel for this great honor.