Keys named Patron of the Arts award winner, Artworks Gala raises thousands

WINNER: Jerena Keys stands between Trinidy Williams and Roxanne Cullen for a photo after Keys was announced as the recipient of the Patron of the Arts award. Keys' contributions to the arts in Big Rapids includes participation in STAGE-M, Festival of the Arts, Tuba Bach and Voca Lyrica. (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

WINNER: Jerena Keys stands between Trinidy Williams and Roxanne Cullen for a photo after Keys was announced as the recipient of the Patron of the Arts award. Keys’ contributions to the arts in Big Rapids includes participation in STAGE-M, Festival of the Arts, Tuba Bach and Voca Lyrica. (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

BIG RAPIDS  — It didn’t take long for attendees at Friday’s Artworks Gala to guess the 2016 Patron of the Arts award winner as the recipient’s numerous artistic involvements were read aloud.

Halfway through the list, many in the audience in the Gary Trimarco Automotive showroom had a good idea who was being honored, and Jerena Keys began to blush upon realizing she would be taking home the award.

The award, started in 1984, recognizes someone who has been supportive of the arts through work behind the scenes, volunteering, monetary donations or participating/performing in art, music or theater, said Artworks Executive Director Lynne Scheible.

In awe at receiving the award, Keys did not have much to say when encouraged to make a speech, but her few words were clearly from the heart.

“I just want to thank you all for the award,” she said. “I appreciate being part of a very important place in Artworks, which brings the community and its artists together.”

Keys’ contributions to the arts in Big Rapids includes participation in STAGE-M, Festival of the Arts, Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival and Voca Lyrica.

Along with the announcement of Keys winning the Patron of the Arts award, Friday’s gala served as a fundraiser for Artworks and a place to bring together those who champion for public access to the arts, Scheible said.

“The real focus is how Artworks is here because of the people,” she said. “There are hundreds who have volunteered over the year. We are still here 16 years later, we own our own building and we’re doing so much. It’s all a sign Big Rapids cares about the arts.”

“You’ll Love It Here!” was this year’s theme for the gala as the phrase is the unofficial motto of Big Rapids and is painted on the Perry Avenue water tower. The evening allowed guests the chance to eat, drink and socialize, and featured both silent and live auctions, along with raffle drawings.

Including sponsorship and what was raised during the gala, Scheible said about $30,000 was collected.

“The money goes to a combination of things, including building repairs, utilities and programming,” she said.

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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