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Gibson to be honored at Shakespeare Festival

Troy’s patron of the arts Mack Gibson will be among seven outstanding Alabamians honored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts at the “Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony on May 20 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.

The “Celebration of the Arts” awards program shines a spotlight on the arts in Alabama and the individuals who have made important contributions to the state’s rich cultural landscape.

“These individuals represent the scope and breadth of the artistic diversity, talent, leadership and generosity that is an integral part of the cultural landscape of Alabama,” said Al Head, ASCA executive director.

Gibson, who is the board chair of the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy, will be honored with the 2015 Governor’s Arts Award.

The Governor’s Arts Award recognizes the kind of community arts leadership that allows monumental dreams to become a reality, Head said.

The award recognizes Gibson for his generosity of time, resources and leadership.

Under Gibson’s tenure as board chairman, the Johnson Center has established a record of community support and participation. The Center produces an outstanding educational program and a series of exhibitions featuring the work of local, state and regionally recognized artists.

The Johnson Center, a state-of-the-art facility, is housed in the former Troy post office and has seven galleries. The Studio, a renovated warehouse across the street from the John Center, is a part of the arts complex and is used as a rental center for special events. The adjacent Annex is used primarily for arts education, including art classes and performing arts.

Gibson said he is humbled to be recognized by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and to be among those whom he admires for their contributions to arts.

“This award recognizes the Johnson Center for the Arts and the efforts that have been made to get the arts recognized in this part of the state,” he said. “The Johnson Center means so much to everyone.

“I am an advocate for the arts and I am a preservationist. With the Johnson Center, two things have been accomplished. We have preserved a great old building and we have established a wonderful multi-purpose arts facility that reaches out to the entire community including children, who are our mission.”

Gibson said the Johnson Center is widely recognized as a center for the arts and it’s unusual for a town the size of Troy to have that distinction.

“I have such a good feeling about what has happened in the arts in our community,” he said. “It took about 12 years and not without a lot of effort. But I have enjoyed every minute of being a part of it. I’ve loved the challenges and I’ve loved working with the people.

“The Johnson Center has had a great impact on our community and it’s just the beginning. The impact that the arts center will have in the coming years will be even greater than it is today. The cultural and economical impact on the well being of this part of Alabama is and will continue to be huge.”

Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director, said Gibson is most deserving of the Governor’s Arts Award.

“This is quiet an honor for Mack and for the City of Troy,” Pritchett said. “Mack is the only board chair the Johnson Center has had. And, it has been his vision and his love for the arts that have kept the dream of an arts center in Troy and Pike County alive.”

Pritchett said Gibson’s dream was for the Johnson Center to be not just a museum for the visual arts, but a true arts center.

“Mack has spearheaded our education program and it has expanded because of his generous spirit,” she said. “Mack is old school. He believes in giving back, not to get something in return. He has a love of people and enjoys doing for his community.”

Pritchett said Gibson has spent the last decade in support of the arts in Troy and Pike County.

“Mack doesn’t do what he does for recognition or for awards,” she said. “His attitude is ‘this is what you do if you love your community.’ And, he knows how important the arts are. He sees the big picture. His vision from the beginning has been to grow an arts community that will be strong and vibrant for generations to come.”