by Philip Spensley, Chair, Northfield Arts and Culture Commission

Photo by Kathleen Pender

The Arts and Culture Commission of the City of Northfield has named Patsy Dew as the 2014 recipient of its Living Treasure Award.  The award annually honors a Northfield area resident who makes an outstanding and lasting contribution to the city’s identity and quality of life through and behalf of the arts and culture. 

The award will be presented to Dew at a public ceremony on Thursday, January 16th at the Grand Event Center.  Everyone is welcome to attend the celebration, which starts at 7 pm, and to share in the expression of appreciation for Patsy's many and significant contributions to the community.

As well as being an artist in here own right (photograper, theatre director, and actress), Patsy's major contribution, according to her nominator, Jane McWilliams, has been as "a builder of arts programs to make the arts accessible to all members of the community."  During her tenure as program coordinator for the Northfield Arts Guild, she initiated, with Myrna Johnson, the Young People's Theatre workshop and created other opportunities in theatre for youth on a year-round basis, guided and expanded the dance program, initiated a program in Mexican folkloric dance and secured the grant funding to support it, and started a literary arts program "Writers' Night" to give adult writers in the community a venue for sharing their art. Dick Cantwell who performed with Dew and under her direction at the Arts Guild,  was Dew's third nominator for the award.

Since leaving her position at the NAG, for the last five years Patsy has directed her energies to expanding opportunities for seniors to participate in the arts through her position as Assistant Director of the Senior Center.  Lynn Pederson, Senior Center Director and another of Patsy's nominators for the award, acknowledges that "The Arts is now considered to be an area of emphasis in the Center Programming, due to the work and program development that Patsy thrives in and succeeds at."  Pederson notes that Patsy has secured grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SAEMAC) to develop an art gallery to showcase the work of older adults, has developed a theatre program that twice a year performs an old fashioned melodrama under her direction, and has introduced various classes in writing and dance and the fine arts, providing opportunities and encouragement for seniors. 

Because of her past and continuing service to Northfield through and on behalf of the arts and culture, the Arts and Culture Commission asserts without reservation that "because of Patsy Dew, Northfield is a better place.  The community is richer for her contributions and we’re fortunate and grateful to have her in our midst."

Throughout 2014, Dew will serve as an ambassador for the arts in Northfield, as well as a continuing her work with seniors and pursuing her own artistic endeavors.

Previous recipients of the Living Treasure Award have been Ray Jacobson, renowned sculptor and Carleton emeritus, whose fountain graces Bridge Square and whose "Harvest" statue canbe found along the river walk; Myrna Johnson, founder and long-time artistic director of the Northfield Arts Guild Theatre; Cora Scholz, music educator, who co-founded and for many years led the Northfield Children’s Choir; and Paul Niemisto, founder and thirty-some year conductor of the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra, and founder and organizer of Northfield's International Vintage Band Festival.  The Arts and Culture Commission thanks them for all they have done and continue to contribute to Northfield's cultural vibrancy.

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