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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Arts Awards announces 2021 winners

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Arts has announced the winners of the 2021 Arts Awards after canceling its annual awards event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hosting a small, invitation-only outdoor reception for the nominees last weekend.

The annual awards are open to individuals and organizations committed to the arts and anyone in the community can put in a nomination. Each year awards are given in the leadership, inclusion, imagination and collaboration categories.

The 2021 winner of the Leadership award is Inland Northwest Opera, which served as an advocate for the performing arts by petitioning Gov. Jay Inslee to include the performing arts in reopening plans. The group built an Opera Truck to be a mobile concert site and hosted free performances in parks and other locations.

This winner of the Inclusion award is Stage Left Theater, which offered livestreamed shows in this year2. The theater also recently “took impressive strides in building a truly inclusion theater, under the leadership of director Jeremy Whittington, including new creative collaborations and a focusing on sharing new and untold stories,” according to a Spokane Arts news release.

The Imagination award was given to Kate Lebo, who wrote “Book of Difficult Fruit,” a collection of essays with recipes. Lebo is a writer and a cooking teacher and her latest writing project combined both disciplines.

The Collaboration award was given to Darrien Mack, who is a filmmaker, a dancer, a DJ, a designer and a storyteller. He frequently collaborates with other artists and community groups.

This year the awards committee also selected a winner of the Karen Mobley Impact Award, which is not given out every year and is intended to recognize extraordinary impact on the arts community. The award was given to Don Hamilton of Hamilton Studios.

Videos featuring the winners are available online at


Nina Culver can be reached at