Every two years, South Dakotans are given the opportunity to shine a spotlight on those individuals and organizations that have achieved significant accomplishments in the arts. The Governor’s Awards in the Arts dramatically illustrate the diversity, commitment and talent of South Dakota’s creative community.

Take the case of Ward Whitwam, this year’s awardee for Distinction in Creative Achievement. An architect and native of South Dakota, Whitwam designed the concrete tipis that mark our state’s rest areas on the interstate highway—a landmark for travelers since 1958, a source of pride for residents and a respectful homage to the state’s Native American heritage. His unique design and the engineering that made it come to life exemplify the artistic vision and Dakota pride shared by all the winners of the Governor’s Awards.

Governor Daugaard will present five awards on February 15 in Pierre. In addition to Whitwam’s creative achievement award, Steve Babbitt will be honored for Outstanding Service in Arts Education; Graham and Anna Marie Thatcher are this year’s recipients for Outstanding Support of the Arts by Individuals; Mobridge City Government will receive the award for Outstanding Support of the Arts by an Organization, and recently retired South Dakota Arts Council director Michael Pangburn will be given an honorary award for Outstanding Service to the Arts Community. The event will also highlight the Living Indian Treasure Award presented to nationally renowned flutist Bryan Akipa.

These honorees are chosen from dozens of nominations made by community arts leaders in every part of South Dakota. Nominees are artists, local arts advocates, corporate citizens who believe in our state’s creative future and educators who are ensuring that the legacy of arts education is part of every child’s day. All are hard at work throughout South Dakota, and all are worthy of recognition. Every two years, Arts South Dakota chooses a handful to spotlight, knowing there are so many more building our state’s cultural heritage.

These awards say as much about South Dakotans as they do about the quality of our creative environment. We honor our arts leaders and understand that their work makes our state a better place for all its citizens.

For more about the Governor’s Awards or other Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.