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The Circle of Excellence in the Arts Awards are co-sponsored by the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts Council of the Valley, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University. These awards, founded in 2013, recognize those individuals and organizations in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley that enhance and strengthen the cultural community by promoting and advocating for artistic excellence. One award is given annually in recognition of an Augusta or Rockingham County, Harrisonburg, Staunton or Waynesboro visual or performing artist, arts administrator, or arts educator whose creative and superior accomplishments in the arts have improved the cultural vitality of the Valley. Award nominations are based on sustained contributions in the visual and performing arts.

Award recipients are nominated by members of the community and selected from those nominations by a committee made up of the Executive Director of the Forbes Center, the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at JMU, and the Arts Council of the Valley Executive Director. 

Award Recognition

Award recipients are announced and recognized at the annual Forbes Center Season Announcement event held in mid-June every year.

Nomination Details

Nominations are due by Friday, April 26, 2024. A copy of these nomination guidelines is available on the Forbes Center and the Arts Council of the Valley websites. Candidates who do not receive the award in the year they are nominated may be reconsidered in subsequent years. Multiple nominations for the same person are not considered as criteria for selection. Coordinated “campaigning” to submit multiple nominations for the same person is strongly discouraged. No late submissions will be accepted. Winners will be contacted no later than May 10, 2024. Winners are asked to keep their award selection private until the announcement is made at the Forbes Center Season event in mid-June.  


Visual and performing artists, arts administrators, arts organizations, and arts educators whose careers have made a substantial impact on the arts in the Shenandoah Valley may be nominated. Nominees must reside in Virginia when nominated. No one may receive the award more than once. Candidates may not nominate themselves.

Nomination Information Required

1. Name, address and contact information of the person (or group of people) you wish to nominate.

2. Name, address and contact information of the person submitting the nomination.  

3. Please answer the following questions in the nomination materials. What makes this nominee deserving of a Circle of Excellence in the Arts Award? Describe the nominee’s involvement in, and contribution to, the visual or performing arts. Describe how the nominee’s participation in the arts has made a difference to the quality of cultural life in the Shenandoah Valley. Be as specific as possible. 

4. A minimum of two support letters is required to accompany the nomination materials. Other support materials may be included (brochures, articles, posters, etc.).

5. All nominations must be received no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, April 26, 2024. For additional information, please email Regan Byrne, Executive Director of the Forbes Center, at

Completed nomination forms should be mailed to:

Circle of Excellence in the Arts Awards
Forbes Center for the Performing Arts
147 Warsaw Avenue, MSC 2107
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Emailed applications are also accepted. Please email to: Regan Byrne at

Past Winners:

2023 - Heifetz International Music Institute

2022 - Earlynn J. Miller, Harrisonburg, VA

2021 - Harrisonburg International Festival, Harrisonburg, VA

2020 - The Shenandoah Valley Choral Society, Harrisonburg, VA

2019 - Staunton-Augusta Art Center, Staunton, VA, and Shenandoah Valley Art Center, Waynesboro, VA

2018 - Pamela McCray, Shenandoah Civic Dance Company and Staunton Academy of Ballet, Staunton, VA

2017 - Dr. Joanne V. Gabbin, Furious Flower Poetry Center, JMU, Harrisonburg, VA 

2016 - American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA

2015 - Ken Nafziger, The Bach Festival, Harrisonburg, VA

2014 - OASIS Fine Art & Craft, Harrisonburg, VA

2013 - Stan Swartz - Harrisonburg High School, Harrisonburg, VA

View the 2023-2024
Masterpiece Season Brochure

Nominations Now Open
Circle of Excellence in the Arts Awards

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