The Thomaston-Upson Archives is one of 12 recipients of the first annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities, “recognizing deserving individuals and organizations for significant contributions to Georgia’s cultural vitality,” stated a press release from the Governor’s Office.
Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the recipients at the state Capitol. Georgia Council for the Arts, the Georgia Humanities Council and the Georgia Film and Music & Digital Entertainment Office joined in presenting the awards.
“Georgia’s artistic and cultural enterprise facilitates our competitiveness in the global market and attracts new commerce,” said Deal. “These individuals and organizations are building a distinct state identity while also helping make Georgia the No. 1 place to do business nationwide.”
The 12 award winners were selected from more than 100 nominations from around the state. The press release stated: “They are accomplished artists, prolific authors, inspiring educators, and influential musicians. Iconic and culturally relevant institutions and organizations that foster community development and enrich lives will also be presented with an award.”
“There is a quote that says, ‘individually we are a drop, together we are an ocean.’ It is a privilege for the Thomaston-Upson Archives to be included in such an august group,” said Thomaston-Upson Archives Director Penny Cliff. “The Archives is successful because of so many people working together. Of course Archivists Bonnie Smith and Claude Burgess are any researcher’s dream to facilitate the search. They are that good.
“But success includes so many people. Our Records Advisory Board Chair, Kay Hightower, along with others, had the vision to create the Archives and her guidance has brought the Archives to where it is today. Then there are the many volunteers whose creativity and hard work add to the holdings and to our history. Teaming up with the Upson Historical Society has earned us grants and awards.
“But what can’t be forgotten,” she added, “ is that without the financial backing, there would be no archives, at least, not as we know it. I went up to receive the award from Governor and the First Lady on behalf of all of these people, organizations and the government who supports the Thomaston-Upson Archives. They are the ones who earned the Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities. They are the Archives’ ocean.”
Community leaders were quick to offer their congratulations. Upson County Commission Chairman Maurice Raines praised the work of all involved.
“I would like commend the Historical Society, Archives and Grady Kelly for all the hard work they have done on behalf of the citizens of this community. They have invested much time and money in their efforts and it is great to be acknowledged on a state level for their efforts. This is truly a great thing for our community.”
Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce President Lori Smith added that the Archives is one of the county’s prize attractions for visitors.
“The T-U Chamber is so proud of the accomplishments of the Thomaston-Upson Archives and would like to congratulate them on being a recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities,” said Smith. “Individuals that visit Upson County from another county, state or country, are always so impressed by our local archivists Penny Cliff and her staff at the Upson County Archives. We appreciate the hard work and dedication that these individuals put into making our local archives the best of the best. If you have never visited the Thomaston-Upson Archives, you really are missing a key piece of Upson County’s history.”
Besides the Thomaston-Upson Archives, the award recipients include educator Arthur Berry of Albany, MOCA GA founder Annette Cone-Skelton of Atlanta, musician Colonel Bruce Hampton of Atlanta, storyteller Akbar Imhotep of Atlanta, poet and educator Thomas Lux of Atlanta, visual artist Philip Moulthrop of Atlanta, Paul Pierce of Columbus, Amy Lotson-Roberts of St. Simons Island, Melvin Steely of Carrollton, philanthropists Kay and Dean Swanson of Cordele, and the Savannah Music Festival.