The 2021 Spokane Arts Award recipients are Inland Northwest Opera, Stage Left Theater, Kate Lebo and Darrien Mack

Opera music

Spokane Arts announced the recipients of its 2021 Arts Awards on Saturday at a small private celebration for the nominees, as the full event was canceled due to increased public health concerns related to the COVID-19 delta variant .

The Arts Awards recognize the achievements of creators, arts and cultural organizations, and local individuals committed to enriching communities through the arts. Nominations were submitted as part of an open call for members of the community to submit nominations.

The four award categories reflect the values ​​of Spokane Arts: leadership, collaboration, imagination and inclusion. Nominees were reviewed by a panel of arts curators and community arts representatives, and they selected the winners.


Northwestern Opera House from the inside was named a leadership laureate. INO has been a leading advocate for the performing arts in the state, calling on Governor Jay Inslee to find ways to include the performing arts in plans to reopen. INO has strived to find new ways to safely deliver music to the public. Starting from Opera Grams in the summer of 2020, INO spent 2021 building an Opera Truck to serve as a mobile concert stage and held free shows in parks and neighborhoods.

Dawn Wolski, General and Artistic Director of INO, said in the leadership contestant video: “Our mission is to bring beauty, joy and amazing music throughout the Northwest, so how do we? have done that has changed a bit, but why we do it and what we do has not changed at all. When people couldn’t come to us in theaters, we came to them.


Left-wing theater was named the inclusion winner. Stage Left has been in the theater community for a decade and has recently made strides in building inclusive theater under the leadership of Executive Director Jeremy Whittington, including new and creative collaborations and a focus on sharing new and unusual stories.

Stage Left pivoted in 2020 to create performances that could be broadcast live, focusing on individual shows and other projects that could successfully change restrictions related to COVID-19.

One proponent wrote: “The constant creation of online productions during the pandemic reached thousands of people who had been confined to their homes, bringing art and joy to the lonely isolation of the past year. Truly this little theater included everyone at a time when everyone felt isolated and alone.


The winner of the Imagination Prize is Kate lebo, whose latest work is “Book of Difficile Fruit”, a collection of essays with recipes. Lebo is a writer, cook and cooking teacher, and his work is united by his curiosity to explore the connections that food creates and sustains.

One of the nominators wrote: “Her mix of personal essay, natural history, folklore and working recipes was unlike anything I had read before. Kate has been an integral part of Spokane’s literary (and culinary!) Scene for many years, and it’s exciting to watch her reach the next level of imagination and creativity with her new book.


The recipient of the collaboration award is Darrien Mack, whose creative efforts span a range of mediums. Mack is a filmmaker, dancer, DJ, storyteller and designer.

One nominator wrote, Darrien is a “multidisciplinary designer with a strong commitment to his own unique aesthetic, always holding each project to the highest quality standards.” His work at Community-Minded Television as well as his collaborations with community groups and artists mean he is behind the scenes of many Spokane projects.

In addition to the four main categories, the Karen Mobley Impact Award, which is not nominated annually but is reserved to recognize extraordinary impact on the artistic community, was awarded to Don Hamilton of Hamilton Studios for his decades of work as a creator and for his generosity in supporting other artists and arts organizations.

“Don Hamilton is amazing and supports organizations large and small, at no cost or very little,” said Ben Stuckart, executive director of the Spokane Low-Income Housing Consortium and former chairman of Spokane City Council, in the press release from Spokane Arts. “I’ve always wondered how they stay in business because he always gives. Don is a community treasure.