Le Moyne Impact Awards Recognize Local Arts Leaders

Kaitlyn Greer, Arts and Leisure Editor

The second annual Le Moyne College Arts Administration Program Impact Awards: Celebrating Arts & Culture is one that will always be remembered for recognizing outstanding leaders in the arts that came in, fought, and conquered 2020.

On March 3rd at 6PM, these awards were presented along with the appearance of a special keynote speaker, Aaron Dworkin, a 2005 MacArthur Fellow and President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts.

This was the first year that the event was held virtually and it was evident to see how much influence the arts have on people.

The Le Moyne and Syracuse community is unique, and it is one that consistently proves its dedication and support.

There were five individuals that did exactly this: Samara Hannah, Michael Feng, Kyle Bass, Michelle Combs, and Sayward Schoonmaker.

Some of you may wonder what exactly it is about these individuals that stood out to the selection committee.

After speaking with Samara Hannah and Kyle Bass, the answer to this question is clear. These two individuals have been powerhouses throughout their careers and specifically within this past year.

Hannah has been the executive director of Redhouse Arts Center since 2016. Since then, she has spearheaded major changes for the organization, which included the relocation and construction of the Arts Center.

This was just the first step of many that Hannah made in order to gain the respectable reputation that she now has today.

Samara Hannah has not been alone throughout the pandemic. She has been surrounded by her home family and her Redhouse family.

She was proud to say, “I’m just very grateful for this entire community, and our donors, and our board, and our staff for everything that they have done to make sure that bright house is moving forward.”

As executive director, she emphasized that as a team, they are “moving forward.”

After pushing past the challenges that 2020 presented, Hannah was honored to even be recognized for the work that not only she has done, but the organization as a whole.

Some of this work included: a summer camp for children (in person), a new COVID-19 safe learning lab for children (in person), virtual holiday productions, and throughout the year other virtual events occurred.

The art world is without a doubt filled with amazing leaders like Samara Hannah. However, another individual like her is Kyle Bass, Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage.

Bass earned the Artist as Manager award for the remarkable stride he has made in the arts.

To express his emotion about winning this award, he claimed to believe it was a “prank.” After realizing it was not a prank, Bass felt “honored,” and was overwhelmed with joy.

Right away, he acknowledged his support system throughout the years.

Going back to his childhood, his parents were constantly pushing Bass to succeed when he showed any interest or talent in an activity.

Bass then went on to talk about the support he has had throughout his diverse career.

“I think in my career, it’s been a lot of people… but at Syracuse stage, you know, I think very profoundly it’s been Robert Hupp…Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage.”

In the last year Bass has aimed high. He has tried to find the “balance between my own artistic life, my involvement with Syracuse stage and also my commitment as an educator, as a teacher.”

While turning towards virtual entertainment, it was difficult for Bass to continue projects he has started in the past like his Cold Read Festival which last took place in 2019 and will return virtually in 2021.

Currently, Bass is continuing his involvement in the arts and has very special plans for the future .

In all, despite the downfalls of 2020, both Hannah and Bass found ways beyond the barriers placed in front of them.

This has not been an easy road to travel, but all of these recognized leaders exemplified the strength that was needed to prove their loyalty to the arts.