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2003 Recipients

Then Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Mary Kelley poses with four beaming winners of the 2003 Commonwealth Awards, including (left to right) Joe Thompson of Mass MoCA, Paul Master-Karnik of DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Actress Julie Harris and Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras Board President David Welch; photo by Marilyn Humphreys.

Individual Achievement
Given for overall excellence in the body of work by an artist, humanist or interpretive scientist.

Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz; photo by Ted RosenbergStanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1905, and began a long and distinguished career as a poet, editor, essayist and translator after graduating summa cum laude from Harvard University. He is the author of nearly a dozen books of poetry, has translated many more, and has edited books of poems by William Blake and John Keats.

Stanley Kunitz has made extraordinary contributions to the field of poetry. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen and a National Book Award, and is the former United States Poet Laureate. Kunitz's many other honors include a Ford Foundation Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard's Centennial Medal, a senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Shelley Memorial Award.

From 1987-89, Stanley Kunitz served as the first State Poet of New York and was awarded the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit. He was awarded Harvard University's first Centennial Medal in 1992, and in that same year President Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts during a White House ceremony. Beyond his extraordinary poetic contributions, Kunitz has been a true ambassador of his art: a revered teacher for many years at Columbia University, a consultant to the United States Library of Congress, a judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, and a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he has lived for decades.

Julie Harris
Actress Julie Harris, 2003 Commonwealth Award Winner for Individual Achievement, received her award from Ben Cameron, Director of Theater Communications Group; photo by Marilyn HumphriesPrior to 2002, Julie Harris had received more American Theatre Wing Tony Awards (5) and additional nominations (5) than any other actor in the history of the Awards. In 2002 she received yet another such acknowledgement-A Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

In addition to her numerous awards from the theatre community, Harris has received an Emmy Award and an Oscar nomination. Her distinguished career in film, theatre and television is matched only by her tireless support for the arts community of Cape Cod, where she has made her home for more than twenty years.

Julie Harris's portrayal of Emily Dickinson, one of Massachusetts' most distinguished poets, in "The Belle of Amherst," played a major part in resurgent national interest in Dickinson's work. Ms. Harris has lent her name and talents to assist the fund raising efforts of the Boch Center for the Performing Arts, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, Harwich Junior Theatre, Friends of Monomoy Theatre, The Orleans Academy for the Performing Arts and Cape Cod Opera, Inc.

Given to an individual, organization, corporation or foundation that has taken the lead in giving time, energy, expertise and/or funds to help build a central place for the arts, humanities and sciences in Massachusetts.

Joseph Thompson
Joseph Thompson; photo by Nicholas WhitmanIn the 15 years Joseph Thompson has served as director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), he has overseen development of the architectural program for the 13-acre campus of 19th-century factory buildings; articulated the institution's far-ranging artistic program; and built the center's staff, board and governing structure. Under his leadership, MASS MoCA has become a catalyst for economic revitalization in western Massachusetts, bringing more than 800 jobs and $23 million per year in economic impact to the region.

Thompson's 20-year career in the arts spans museums and academia. Originally from Oklahoma, Thompson is a graduate of Williams College and received an MA in art history in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named an Annenberg Fellow. He earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 1987, along with the Morganthau Fellowship in recognition of his work in public policy and management.

Using art as a springboard, Thompson has created a campus at MASS MoCA that is home to an innovative community e-commerce, publishing, software and special effects companies, employing hundreds of people and making MASS MoCA an important economic development catalyst for the region.

Given to an individual, cultural organization or school that has developed a model education program in the arts, humanities or sciences.

Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras
Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras; photo by Michael Lutch PhotographyGreater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (GBYSO) provides the highest quality musical education, training and performance opportunities for young people throughout New England. In addition to orchestral training, the organization fosters the personal and musical growth of each student and teaches the important lesson that regardless of each student's choice of career, passion and drive are at the core of success in any field. In addition, GBYSO does extensive community outreach to students from low-income communities through its Intensive Community Program.

Founded in 1958, the GBYSO is an independent organization in residence at the Boston University College of Fine Arts. It serves more than 350 young musicians through the operation of five progressively structured orchestras and outreach activities. Participating students, ages 6 to 18, travel from more than 120 communities throughout New England to rehearse with GBYSO's ensembles. Each season, GBYSO offers more than 20 formal performances in Boston's finest venues, including Symphony Hall and Sanders Theatre. GBYSO's Senior Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Federico Cortese, tours internationally every two years, most recently to Central Europe in June 2002.

Numerous awards and acknowledgements have recognized the high artistic quality of the organization. GBYSO has been described by National Public Radio as "one of the nation's five best youth orchestras," and has received three awards from the American Society of Composers and Performers.

Given to an organization or individual that has significantly integrated the arts, humanities or sciences into a community.

Cambridge Arts Council
Cambridge Arts Council, CAC 10th Annual Summer in the City Performance Series, "Carribean for Kids"; photo by Yolanda McCollumThe Cambridge Arts Council (CAC) is the official arts agency for the City of Cambridge, Mass. Established by City ordinance in 1974 and incorporated as a public non-profit in 1976, CAC's mission is to ensure that the arts remain vital for people living, working and visiting in Cambridge. As both a service and presenting organization, CAC accomplishes this mission by stimulating public awareness and support for the arts, preserving and celebrating the City's diverse cultural heritage, displaying art in public places, convening conferences and symposia to promote the arts and producing high quality arts programming designed to strengthen the cultural community in Cambridge.

In carrying out the mission of the agency, CAC staff work with several boards and commissions-comprising community leaders and arts professionals-to develop programs and services that follow four basic principles: community involvement; collaboration; arts education; and selection of participating artists by art professionals with community input.

With these principles in mind, CAC offers annual programming that includes an award-winning Public Art/Percent-for-Art Program, the Cambridge River Festival, the CAC Grant Program, Summer in the City, Art Among Us, a Gallery & Exhibition schedule and a lively Street Performer Program. In addition CAC staff members work directly with Cambridge artists and cultural organizations to provide professional guidance to attain their artistic and organizational goals. Central to all CAC activities is a vibrant community input process that ensures new and existing programs are responsive to the needs of the Cambridge community.

Cultural Organization
Given for an organization's overall artistic excellence and its impact on public life in the Commonwealth.

DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park
DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park; photo by Ri AndersonDeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2000, draws its inspiration from the spirit of founder Julian de Cordova, who believed that the visual arts serve as a medium for self-improvement and enlightenment. In his will, de Cordova stipulated that his estate would become a public museum of art following his death, which occurred in 1945. In 1950 the museum opened to the public and quickly established a reputation for ground-breaking exhibitions that introduced New England audiences to important trends within contemporary art both regionally and nationally, including Pop Art and Boston's post-war expressionist movement. DeCordova is also dedicated to the exhibition, collection and preservation of works by living New England artists.

Today, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park offers the only permanent public Sculpture Park in New England. With an ambitious program of expansion and continuous renewal, the museum currently has more than 80 modern and contemporary works in its 35-acre Sculpture Park. In addition, the Sculpture Terrace, which was the region's first open-air gallery, annually features exhibitions by nationally recognized sculptors.

Over the years, DeCordova Museum has expanded and adapted to meet the changing educational needs of its diverse constituents. DeCordova Museum School, the largest non-degree granting studio art program in Massachusetts, provides instruction for more than 4,000 students, from child through adult, each year.

As in previous years, each Commonwealth Award winner received a medal from Reed & Barton, designed by Deborah Bluestein. For 2003, recipients also receive an original photo collage by Cambridge-based multi-media and installation artist Genara Banzon. Banzon received a BFA from the University of the Philippines and an MFA in the Studio for Inter-related Media at the Massachusetts College of Art: MASS ART, Boston.

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