Governor's Arts & Heritage Awards
Dr. Quinton Morris, an educator and performer, received the Governor's Young Arts Leader Award in 2016. Photo by Eva Blanchard Photography.

2021 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards (GAHA) – January 2022

The 2021 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards (GAHA) program will be presented in January 2022. GAHA 2021 will honor and reflect the experiences of the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event format and awards categories will be slightly different than previous years.

The arts and culture sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Our sector was the first to close and has experienced devastating economic impacts. As we move towards recovery, ArtsWA wants to recognize artists and cultural organizations who have stood as shining lights for their communities. Those whose leadership and steadfast efforts kept hope alive in  their communities – even as they were facing pandemic devastation themselves.

This year, instead of our typical Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards, we will present these leaders with a special Luminary Award. Two awards will be given for each region in the state, one to an individual and one to an organization. The honorees have been announced and are listed below.

2021 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards (GAHA) – Honorees

ArtsWA is thrilled to announce the 2021 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Luminary Award honorees.

Spotlight honoree | The Governor’s Spotlight award is given to an individual chosen by the Governor for their extraordinary use of the arts and humanities to benefit their community during the pandemic. Join us in celebrating:

Governor’s Spotlight | Delbert Richardson

Regional honorees | These exceptional individuals and organizations used the arts and humanities to shine a light for their communities during the darkness of the pandemic. Join us in celebrating:

Southwest Region | Organization – Asia Pacific Cultural Center

Southwest Region | Individual – Douglas Orr

Central Region | Organization – Gallery One

Eastern Region | Organization – Spokane Valley Summer Theatre

Eastern Region | Individual – Jeremy Whittington

Northwest Region | Organization – Path with Art

Northwest Region | Individual – Akuyea Karen Vargas

Thank you to everyone who sent in a nomination. Your stories revealed the amazing arts-based work being done to lift people up across the state. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for more news about these honorees and the announcement of the Governor’s Spotlight Award.

The Selection Process

A selection panel evaluates nominations. Panel recommendations are forwarded to ArtsWA’s board of commissioners. The Commission deliberates and forwards recommendations to the Governor, who has final approval authority. Once approved, all nominators and nominees are notified and award recipients are announced to the public.

For more information or questions contact:
Miguel Guillén | miguel.guillen@arts.wa.gov | 360-252-9970

Support GAHA

Become an Event Sponsor or Place an Ad in Our Program

Sponsorships make this prestigious event possible. In a typical year, more than 250 Washingtonians attend the annual GAHA event. They represent elected officials, artists, arts organizations, culture bearers, students and patrons of the arts and heritage. Each year, the event is hosted in a different community. This gives people from across the state access to ArtsWA’s program, and allows those communities to highlight and share their artistic and cultural resources with their fellow Washingtonians. Sponsors also provide complimentary seating for student-artists, awardee family members, or others who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend.

Become a Sponsor – Download Our Sponsor Packet

Past Awardees

Congratulations to our 2019 GAHA winners!


Davin Diaz 
Arts Award – Community (Benton County)
Juan Alonso-Rodríguez – Arts Award – Individual Artist (King County) 
Michael Spafford  Arts Award – Legacy (King County) 
The 5th Avenue Theatre Arts Award – Organization (King County)
Anne Banks Arts Award – Education (Thurston County)
Matt Cadman– Arts Award – Advocacy (Chelan County)

Juan Manuel Barco – Heritage Award – Individual Artist/Practitioner (Snohomish County)
Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association – Heritage Award – Organization (King County)

View our playlist of 2019 GAHA awardees

2019 Award Categories

Governor’s Arts Awards

Governor’s Heritage Awards

Special Thanks to Our Event Sponsors

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