2011 Governors Arts Awards
Distinguished Arts Leadership
Award Recipient: Ben Anderson, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth
Although it is an unusual circumstance, in 2011, the Distinguished Arts Leadership Award was presented to two deserving recipients. The exceptional quality of the programs they direct, their remarkable success in growing audiences for the arts, their contributions to the creative economy in New Hampshire, and their reputations as talented and visionary leaders are all qualities that make Connie Rosemont and Ben Anderson models of leadership in the arts.
Ben Anderson is an experienced administrator known for thinking “outside the box.” Several years ago, he took over the reins of the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, a struggling institution on the brink of collapse. Within three years, he transformed it into a sustainable operation, increased operating revenues by 70%, increased business investment in the festival by 200%, and increased membership by more than 70%.
One of Ben’s special commitments is to making sure the arts are accessible to people from all economic backgrounds. The “Family In Need” membership program distributes season memberships among struggling community members to make them feel welcome and part of festival events. Karen Marzloff, founding editor of The Wire newspaper, describes Ben as one of those rare “arts leaders who brings with him a spark—of creative problem solving, a new way of looking at things, a fresh take on what’s possible—that creates transformation within the organization and community, and blazes a new path for others to follow.”