Industry News – Winners Of 2005 Governor’s Arts And Tourism Awards, New Connecticut History Awards Announced

Contact: Jennifer Aniskovich
Executive Director
Connecticut Commission
on Culture & Tourism
(860) 256-2800

Awardees to be Honored During Governor’s Conference on Culture & Tourism

Gala Celebrations Open to the Public; Tickets on Sale Now

HARTFORD, Conn. (Oct. 31, 2005) – On Nov. 16 and 17, the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) will present its 2005 Governor’s Arts and Tourism Awards and newly created Connecticut History Awards. Tickets to the events, which are open to the public, are on sale now and available through the CCT at or by calling (860) 270-8080.

The awards, to be conferred as part of the inaugural Governor’s Conference on Culture & Tourism, taking place Nov. 16 -17 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, are designed to recognize significant achievements and outstanding contributions in the fields of the performing, visual and literary arts and film; tourism; and heritage preservation within Connecticut. A total of 14 individuals and organizations – all nominated by their peers – will be honored during three separate ceremonies: The Governor’s Arts Awards, Connecticut History Awards Luncheon, and the Unity Dinner and Governor’s Tourism Awards.

Connecticut is home to a rich and diverse tapestry of cultural resources, stated Governor M. Jodi Rell. We take great pride in the exceptional numbers of talented artisans, innovators and socially aware institutions Connecticut has produced over the years, in particular those who have contributed to promoting and preserving the state’s heritage, cultural assets and many unique attractions. We are sincerely pleased to publicly applaud such initiative, vision and achievements.

Added Jennifer Aniskovich, executive director, CCT, Our 2005 awardees represent a wide cross section of the best Connecticut has to offer. From Sam Waterston of Law & Order fame to the leadership Bob DeSalvio of Foxwoods Casino brings to the state tourism industry, we have much to celebrate at our inaugural Governor’s Conference award ceremonies.

Governor’s Arts Awards
Presenting Sponsor: NewAlliance Foundation
The Governor’s Arts Awards will be presented Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. at The Bushnell – Belding Theater, Hartford. Awardees include:

  • Sam Waterston, Actor
  • Doug Hughes, Director
  • Westport Country Playhouse
  • Jeanine Basinger, Wesleyan University
  • Tina Weymouth, Musician/Chris Frantz, Musician

Sam Waterston, Actor – Best known to today’s audiences for his portrayal of attorney Jack McCoy on NBC’s popular series Law & Order, Waterston’s prolific career spans decades of television, film and stage successes. Since attending Yale University in 1962, he has acquired six Emmy nominations, an Oscar and Tony nomination, and received Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild awards. As a state resident, Waterston is an active member of the local artistic community, contributing to the cultural life of Connecticut through his time and talents. In 2003, he returned to New Haven to star in Yale Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of David Rabe’s The Black Monk. The beginning of 2005 saw him once again at his alma mater, this time giving a lecture on TV, sales and politics. In February, Waterston partnered with actor Jill Clayburgh for a fundraiser for the Cornwall Consolidated School. This summer, Long Wharf Theater audiences enjoyed his performance in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties; and in October, Waterston donated his time and talent to the community of Cornwall to celebrate the life of former resident and writer, James Thurber. Waterston’s service to the arts in Connecticut is unwavering. The effect of his quiet, yet steady, leadership within the community continues to promote the growth and development of the state’s cultural life, complementing his dedication to national and global humanitarian efforts. In addition to supporting Refugees International, in which he became involved after filming The Killing Fields in 1984, Waterston participates in the Episcopal Actors’ Guild of America.

Doug Hughes, Director – Tony-award winner Doug Hughes has had a long and distinguished career that has reached literally from coast to coast. A graduate of Harvard University, Hughes began his directing career almost 30 years ago with the Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons and the Spoleto Festival (Charleston, S.C.). He then served as Seattle Repertory Theatre’s associate artistic director for 12 years before moving to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minn. In 1997, Hughes brought his experience, skills and fresh vision to Connecticut’s Long Wharf Theater, succeeding Arvin Brown as artistic director. For four years, he helped to revitalize and shape the organization with his bold artistry and commitment to the community. In addition to productions at Long Wharf, Hughes collaborated with other Connecticut theaters, directing Yale Repertory Theatre’s Betty’s Summer Vacation, Hartford Stage’s Edgardo Mine, and Westport Country Playhouse’s Outward Bound. A resident of Guilford, Conn., his contributions to the growth and cultural development of the national regional theater movement and Connecticut arts community continue to inspire peers and audiences locally and regionally.

Westport Country Playhouse – Established in 1931 in a converted antique barn, the Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, is the oldest continuing summer theater in Connecticut. During its first seven decades, the Playhouse staged works by leading contemporary playwrights such as Shaw, Wilder and O’Neill, and produced more than 700 plays with cast lists featuring the likes of Helen Hayes, Ethel Barrymore, Tyrone Power, Gene Kelly and Olivia de Havilland. During its prime, the Playhouse launched 35 productions that transferred to Broadway. By the end of the last century, however, the Playhouse was deteriorating physically and languishing artistically. Enter Joanne Woodward, longtime resident of Westport, who in 2000 agreed to become its artistic director. Since then, the Westport Country Playhouse has embarked upon an ambitious renaissance. In June 2005, a 16-month renovation was completed and it was officially re-opened as a year-round facility replete with a new rehearsal barn. The Playhouse now serves as a four-season second home for theater artists and audiences throughout the state – offering a cornucopia of original stage productions, music, film festivals, readings, workshops and family fare – and a performing arts educational center for school children. The re-born Westport Country Playhouse has returned to the forefront of American regional theatre and takes its place as one of New England’s finest professional theaters… an artistic beacon for all of Connecticut.

Jeanine Basinger, Wesleyan University – A nationally recognized expert on various aspects of American film, Basinger is founder and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archive at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., where she serves as Corwin-Fuller professor of Film Studies and American Studies, and as chair of the Film Studies Department. As curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archive, Basinger is responsible for the care of papers belonging to many of film’s most significant names, including Frank Capra, Ingrid Bergman, Elia Kazan, Gene Tierney, Martin Scorsese and Federico Fellini. The 1996 winner of Wesleyan’s Binswanger prize for excellence in teaching, Basinger spearheaded the planning of and fundraising for Wesleyan’s new Center for Film Studies. She is the author of numerous articles and book reviews on film, which have appeared in such noted publications as The Washington Post, The New York Times, American Film and American Heritage, among others. She has written nine books, including The World War II Combat Film, Anatomy of a Genre, adopted in genre study courses around the county; Silent Stars, which won the National Board of Review’s William K. Everson Prize; and American Cinema: 100 Years of Filmmaking, the companion book for a 10-part PBS television series that aired in January 1995. Her 10th book, The Star Machine, will be published shortly.

Tina Weymouth, Musician/Chris Frantz, Musician – Two highly accomplished musicians, and 2002 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this Fairfield-based husband/wife rhythm section founded the acclaimed rock/funk band Talking Heads with David Byrne in 1974. A vital part of a movement that changed popular music, Frantz (drums) and Weymouth (bass) helped promulgate a new sound using infectious and exotically influenced rhythms from abroad. Pegged as the best new band of ’77 by Rolling Stone magazine, Talking Heads produced 10 albums, including four that Frantz and Weymouth wrote and recorded. The band toured internationally and appeared on such popular TV shows as American Bandstand, Saturday Night Live, and David Letterman, among others. In early 1981, Frantz and Weymouth recorded their first Tom Tom Club album, a funky hybrid of dance, soul and reggae, that segued into hip hop and went gold – hitting the top of the charts in 17 countries. Since then, Frantz and Weymouth have recorded six albums with Tom Tom Club. During their impressive career, the couple have headlined with such well-known artists as The Ramones, The Eurythmics, Blondie, B-52s, INXS and The Pretenders, and continue to inspire many others. Active participants in the local music scene as artists and educators, they periodically perform at Toad’s Place in New Haven and in the SoNo Arts Festival, and have lectured on the music industry at Yale University and Fairfield University.

The Governor’s Arts Awards winners were selected based on their significant achievements and outstanding accomplishments in the performing arts, visual arts, film and video, and literary arts; dedication to the arts in Connecticut; and their contribution to the growth and development of Connecticut’s cultural life.

Governor’s Tourism Awards
The Governor’s Tourism Awards will be presented Thursday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. during the industry’s annual Unity Dinner at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Award winners include:

Connecticut Ambassador Award
Jennifer Lahert, Town Green Special Services District
Excellence In Travel Promotion
Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau
Media Award
Scot Haney, WFSB TV-3
Tourism Person Of The Year
Robert DeSalvio, Foxwoods Resort & Casino

Connecticut Ambassador Award – Recognizes an individual on the front line of the tourism industry who creates a positive and lasting impression for visitors to the state. It is a consumer award, with nominations garnered from tourists, residents and tourism industry representatives.
Jennifer Lahert, Town Green Special Services District
– As manager of INFO New Haven, Lahert offers a special brand of professionalism that has earned her high regard among her travel and tourism peers throughout greater New Haven and the state of Connecticut. Lahert began her career at the OMNI New Haven Hotel at Yale. She subsequently worked for the Greater New Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau, and is currently employed by the Town Green Special Services District in downtown New Haven, which oversees INFO New Haven.

Excellence In Travel Promotion Award – Awarded to organizations that demonstrate excellence or achievement, and show creativity and measurable results, in the areas of tourism awareness, innovative travel marketing, or travel advertising.
Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau – The GHCVB is one of the most successful tourism-related public/private partnerships in the U.S. Most recently, it skillfully executed an integrated marketing campaign called Plan, Book and Play to promote the new Connecticut Convention Center, Greater Hartford and Connecticut at large to meeting planners nationally. Efforts included targeted trade advertising, direct sales at trade shows and promotional events, and the highly effective Bring it Home to Hartford promotion. Supplementing the campaign is local hospitality training for tourism service providers to ensure a positive experience for visitors to downtown Hartford. The GHCVB team’s success is anchored by strong partnerships with the River Valley Tourism Region, Connecticut Convention Center and the state travel industry, and demonstrated by advance bookings for the Convention Center that surpass industry standards.

Media Award – Awarded to media that promote and support the state’s tourism industry and efforts.
Scot Haney, WFSB TV-3 – Every Friday evening at 5:30, WFSB meteorologist and feature reporter, Scot Haney, showcases a piece of Connecticut history during his Eyewitness News segment: Every Town Has A Story. His interest and enthusiasm in Connecticut’s many cultural and tourism treasures, support of Connecticut events, and broadcasting of little-known facts about the state make him a true friend of the tourism industry. He also helps Connecticut wake up weekday mornings with his unique brand of humor and weather reports.

Tourism Person Of The Year – Honors a leader in the Connecticut travel and tourism industry who has:

  • Contributed substantially to the advancement of the travel and tourism industry;
  • Through long and distinguished service, helped develop the image of Connecticut as a travel destination;
  • Helped significantly to communicate the economic, cultural and social importance of tourism.

Robert DeSalvio, Foxwoods Resort & Casino – DeSalvio is a visionary who, during the past several years, has helped lead private and public sector destination-marketing organizations promoting the greater Mystic area and Connecticut’s northeast region toward the creation of a central identity. A marketing professional representing the world’s largest casino, and the state’s major regional destination, he supported the Mystic region’s new brand with advertising dollars to advance destination recognition. He emphasized unity among regional constituents, leading by example in kindness, endurance, professionalism and enthusiasm. Additionally, he never hesitated to provide whatever time and guidance was necessary to educate constituents on issues and opportunities for collaboration.

Connecticut History Awards
The Connecticut History Awards, new this year, will be presented Thursday, Nov. 17, 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Awardees include:

Archaeology Award
Aspinock Historical Society and Town of Putnam
Preservation Now Award
Connecticut Farmland Trust
Putnam River Mills Heritage Trail
Public Projects Award
Palace Theater, Waterbury

Archaeology Award – Honors extraordinary projects and programs involving archeological resources.
Aspinock Historical Society and Town of Putnam – The Cady-Copp House, a small 18th -century cottage listed on the National Register of Historic Places and owned by the Aspinock Historical Society, required extensive restoration. The Society, with restoration funding from the town of Putnam and outside grant assistance, retained professional consultants to conduct archaeological investigations around the house so that important buried cultural resources would not be disturbed by the restoration. Today, thousands of artifacts have been recovered, public outreach and education have become part of the project, and the Cady-Copp property has been designated as a State Archaeological Preserve.

Preservation Now Award – Historic Agricultural Buildings, Farmland Preservation and Agri-tourism – Honors programs and projects that successfully address critical issues evolving in the field.
Connecticut Farmland Trust – Connecticut Farmland Trust is the only private, statewide organization dedicated to the protection of Connecticut’s farmland. CFT accepts donated easements, and partners with communities and land trusts to identify threatened farmland and support local farmland protection efforts. CFT also leads the coordination of the Celebration of Connecticut Farms event each year, a major fundraiser and annual agri-tourism outing designed to combat chronic shrinkage of the state’s farmland.

Preservation Now Award – Heritage Trails: The Roads Most Traveled – Honors programs and projects that successfully address critical issues evolving in the field.
Putnam River Mills Heritage Trail – Dedicated in August 2005, the 1.1 mile Trail threads its way around the Quinebaug River between Pomfret Street and Providence Street in Putnam, linking six historic mills and two additional historic buildings. It provides an easy, level walk or bike ride with good views of several dams and falls along the river; attractive historical markers add visual impact and describe in detail the architecture and uses of each mill property featured on the Trail.

Public Projects Award – Recognizes a municipal or state-sponsored undertaking that has made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of cultural landscapes or the built environment.
Palace Theater, Waterbury – Built in 1922, the Palace Theater was the center of Waterbury’s active cultural scene prior to the Second World War, offering film, Vaudeville, legitimate theater and opera in an opulent setting. In November 2004, after a three-year, $30 million renovation, restoration and expansion, the Palace Theater was transformed into a 90,000 square foot performing arts center providing world-class entertainment ranging from Broadway hits to classic comedy to Grammy award-winning music. The Palace’s mission is to build a strong sense of community and an appreciation for the arts by sustaining itself as a not-for-profit performing arts center that generates a positive artistic, cultural, educational, social and financial impact on the Greater Waterbury area.

The 2005 Governor’s Conference on Culture & Tourism represents the state’s first multidisciplinary educational forum for culture and tourism professionals. It comprises a full day and two evenings – Wednesday, Nov. 16, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 17, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. – of educational workshops, informative panel discussions and award ceremonies.

The conference is presented by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT), in partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the River Valley Tourism Region. It is expected to attract hundreds of individuals and businesses representing Connecticut artists, arts organizations, museums, theaters, historic sites, historic preservation organizations, tour operators, tourism destination marketing organizations, hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, film companies, chambers of commerce, economic development planners, town planners, and countless additional industry groups and associations.

For more information about the 2005 Governor’s Conference on Culture & Tourism, registration fees, directions to conference events, and additional details, log onto the Commission’s website: or call (860) 270-8080.

The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, film, history and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut’s cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism is located at One Financial Plaza, 755 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut, 06103.

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Editors note: Photos are available upon request.