Americans for the Arts and the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) today announced that Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe (R-MO) is the recipient of the 2020 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership. The annual award honors a public official who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state/territory level. Kehoe received his award at this year’s NLGA annual meeting which was held virtually.
During his tenure in public service, Kehoe has taken on the role of being an arts advocate and active partner for the arts and the entire creative sector in Missouri. In 2019, the Missouri Arts Council, which was founded as a state agency in 1965 to broaden the growth, availability, and appreciation of the arts in Missouri, was transferred from the Department of Economic Development to the office of the Lieutenant Governor. Kehoe went to St. Louis to sign legislation authorizing this change in front of arts supporters at the St. Louis Art Museum. He personally met with Missouri Arts Council Staff to welcome them and help their transition into their new office.
Kehoe’s office has been instrumental in working with the Missouri Governor and Legislature to appropriate $4.8 million for the Missouri State Arts Council funding that will assist more than 500 arts organizations. He has helped to ensure that funding will also be protected from cuts in the FY 2021 budget. Additionally, Kehoe secured the state history center as the site for strategic planning meetings with the Council’s board members and played a critical role in the Council’s development of a five-year strategic plan. Kehoe has spoken at the Missouri Arts Awards and at the Missouri State Poetry Out Loud Competition.
A part of the Council’s strategic plan is connecting city and regional arts councils with the state’s veterans’ homes and their communities, such as partnerships with organizations including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Kehoe commented, “I saw how important the ability to participate in the arts has been for one of our veterans’ homes in Mexico, Missouri.” He also noted that while the arts are not a cure-all to social problems, “the arts certainly do give, especially young people, many alternatives, and it’s important that we continue to try to promote what arts can do, especially in our school systems in Missouri.”
“Lt. Governor Kehoe has taken on his role as an arts advocate with gusto,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “I am appreciative of Lt. Governor Kehoe’s efforts and dedication to support the Missouri Arts Council and promote the value of arts and culture in Missouri. I applaud him for being honored with this award.”
Michael Donovan, Executive Director of the Missouri Arts Council, commented, “Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is the epitome of creative leadership and public service. His acute awareness of public needs, especially veterans and seniors, has inspired our focus on the public value of the arts in Missouri. We are grateful for his strong advocacy for the arts and its benefit on local communities and their economies.”
“Lt. Governor Kehoe has embraced members of the arts community and is personally engaged in programs offered through the Missouri Arts Council, such as the Aging in Arts and Veterans’ Arts programs,” said Kyna Iman, Governmental Affairs Consultant at the Missouri Citizens for the Arts, a statewide non-profit advocacy organization for the arts. “As a small business owner, Kehoe understands the economic impact of the arts in communities throughout the state and is working with Missouri Citizens for the Arts on addressing the effects of COVID-19 on performance spaces and museums in our state.”
“While I am extremely honored to receive this award, the credit for the success of the Missouri Arts Council goes to the efforts of many who work hard to make the arts in our state great,” said Kehoe. “The arts strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality and improve the quality of life for Missourians. My office is proud to support the Missouri Arts Council in celebrating Missouri’s culture. Now, possibly more so than ever, all Missourians deserve to benefit from the arts, as they spark creativity, inspiration, and innovation. The arts are good for the soul – and for Missouri’s economy.”
Americans for the Arts and NLGA have jointly presented the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership since 2006.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.
Pictured above: Kyna Iman, Government Affairs Consultant, Missouri Citizens for the Arts; Michael Donovan, Executive Director, Missouri Arts Council; Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe; and Ben Martin, Executive Director, Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. Photo by Amy Berendzen.