The Island Treasure Awards are back! Help choose the next Island Treasures!

island-treasure-awards-trophy image courtesy of Island Treasure AwardsFounded in 1999, the Island Treasure Awards (ITA) are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the arts and humanities on Bainbridge Island. The Island Treasure Committee is seeking nominations from the Bainbridge community for the 2024 Island Treasures. The nomination deadline is October 25, 2023.

“We are hoping the community is interested in nominating individuals whose work on Bainbridge Island has really enriched the cultural well-being of the Island,” says Ellen Bush, Island Treasure Awards Coordinator.

The ITA is resuming after a three-year pandemic hiatus and will be celebrating the newest Island Treasures at the new Buxton Center for Performing Arts (BPA) on February 10, 2024. The event (which is not a fundraiser) is a wonderful community party to celebrate and award the newest Island Treasures with a $5,000 unrestricted cash award. To nominate a candidate for the ITA, visit the following links:

20th Anniversary Island Treasure Awards
20th Anniversary Island Treasure Awards

Please note that members of the Island Treasure Committee and past Island Treasures are not eligible for nomination. Nominations that are not selected within a particular jury cycle are retained for subsequent reconsideration in future years.

About The Island Treasure Awards – The Story So Far…

In 1998, during a meeting of the then Arts and Humanities Fund, committee member Tom Schworer raised the issue of how to recognize and appreciate fellow Islanders for their unique creativity and commitment to the arts or humanities. The committee looked at a national model established in the early 1980’s: the MacArthur Foundation (“Genius”) Awards. Its program dedicated awards to people who in the everyday world might not be appreciated or recognized for their originality, creativity, and self-directed pursuits. Cynthia Sears took the lead in turning this idea into a reality on Bainbridge Island.

It took more than a year to get the award procedures and celebration up and running. The basic idea was to shine a spotlight on perhaps less well-known individuals whose body of work displayed their unique voice and vision and their ongoing commitment to their field. As to process, there would be no application; the key principle would be anonymity – not easy in a community as close-knit and loquacious as Bainbridge! This would apply to everyone involved: the nominees, the nominators who identify and propose potential candidates, and the jurors who decide on the winners. This is still how the process operates and it has kept the awards free from pressures or politics, and allowed it to be an authentic representation of the community’s choices. To date, more than 250 Islanders have served as nominators and jurors and have helped choose the Island Treasures. Although they are anonymous, their work in support of recognizing our cultural heroes is greatly appreciated.

The inaugural Island Treasure Awards were bestowed in a January 31, 2000 ceremony to historian Gerald Elfendahl and photographer Joel Sackett. Since then, an additional 42 individuals who have demonstrated unique visions of the role of the arts or humanities on Bainbridge Island have been similarly honored including, sadly, four who have since passed away: Frank Buxton, Frank Kitamoto, Bob McAllister, and Sally Robison. The inaugural awards were presented in a celebration at the Four Swallows Restaurant (now closed). In 2002, Paul and Debbi Brainerd offered the use of the newly-opened IslandWood Great Hall; it was ITA’s home through 2014. Then followed the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art from 2015 through 2017 and the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) in 2018. The 2019 20th Anniversary celebration of the Island Treasure Awards marked ITA’s return to IslandWood.

Steve Stolee, Bill Baran-Mickle, Dominique Cantwell and Lynn Brunelle, 2019 and 2020 Island Treasures - image courtesy of the ITA websiteSince 2002, the award program has included videos of the life story and work of that year’s award winners. Originally these were dedicated on-location interviews and recordings made by Frank Buxton. In 2011, Steve Stolee joined with Frank to produce and edit the videos, and in 2013 Steve took over the task. Thanks to their efforts, each of the presentations has been an inspiring and meaningful vignette acquainting us with the life and work of the honorees.

February 2020 marked the 21st Island Treasure Awards Celebration. You are invited to discover and enjoy the individuals who have contributed and continue to contribute to the richness and cultural well-being of Bainbridge Island by going to the Island Treasure Awards page and reading about our amazing Island Treasures.

Island Treasure Awards logoThe Award is sponsored by the Island Treasure Foundation, a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

All nominations are done in absolute and permanent secrecy. Please do not discuss your nomination with any other community members—especially someone you wish to nominate.

 *Information and images provided by Ellen Bush, ITA Coordinator and the ITA website.

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