Milner Award established in 1977; previous recipients include Jesse Stuart
“This award marks this day as one of the best days of my life. It is the capstone of my career as an educator, author, and publisher. For me, education is a tool for service, and I am proud that I have been able to escape the poverty of my childhood and use my education to serve the people of Kentucky and Appalachia. I accept this award on behalf of our authors, board members, contributors, and readers.” — Dr. James Gifford
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has announced that James M. Gifford, CEO & Senior Editor of the JSF, is among nine recipients of the commonwealth’s arts awards in recognition of their dedication to sharing Kentucky’s rich arts history with the citizens of the commonwealth. The Governor’s Awards in the Arts is comprised of nine categories that celebrate the extraordinary and significant contributions of Kentuckians and Kentucky organization to the state’s arts heritage. Dr. Gifford received the Milner Award.
Dr. James M. Gifford holds his Milner Award at the Jesse Stuart Foundation.
The Milner Award is the most prestigious of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts. The award was established in 1977 in honor of B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader whose contributions to the arts in Kentucky remain important to this day. The Milner Award is presented to individual Kentucky residents or organizations for outstanding philanthropic, artistic, or other contributions to the arts. Previous Milner Award recipients include Governor Julian Carroll, James Still, Harriet Simpson-Arnow, Wendell Berry, Al Smith, Jon Jory, and Jesse Stuart.
“This award marks this day as one of the best days of my life,” says Dr. Gifford. “It is the capstone of my career as an educator, author, and publisher. For me, education is a tool for service, and I am proud that I have been able to escape the poverty of my childhood and use my education to serve the people of Kentucky and Appalachia. I accept this award on behalf of our authors, board members, contributors, and readers.”
Dr. Gifford came to the JSF in 1985 (pictured below) and since then has played a leadership role in promoting the history, literature, and culture of Appalachia. He has made more than 500 public presentations; published more than 50 magazine and journal articles, along with hundreds of newspaper articles; and has won professional awards as a teacher, author, editor, and publisher.
“Arts engage hearts,” says Dr. Gifford. “Much of the information provided to the public comes at an intellectual level, but the arts allow us to reach people at a more personal and more human level. As a historian, I know from first-hand experience that poetry, music, visual arts, crafts, dramas, and videos provide lessons that are every bit as important as the lessons we learn from books and lectures. People learn by doing rather than observing. The arts allow us to engage the general public at a more active and involved level.”
The Kentucky Arts Council solicits and coordinates award presentations on behalf of the Governor of Kentucky. Each year, the arts council commissions a Kentucky artist to create custom works of art to serve as the award for recipients. Jefferson County glass artist Ann Klem created the 2021 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. Details regarding a virtual awards ceremony to honor the 2021 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients will be forthcoming.