Trinity Repertory Company previously announced that Rhode Island's own Academy Award-nominated actress, Viola Davis, would be honored with the 2012 Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts at the 16th annual Pell Awards. Theater educator Elaine Foster Perry will receive the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons will receive the Pell Award For Leadership in Arts Education, and J.L. "Lynn" Singleton, President of the Providence Performing Arts Center and Professional Facilities Management, will be honored as the recipient of the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts. All awardees are past or current Rhode Islanders.
The Pell Awards celebration will be held this evening, May 21, 2012 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Trinity Repertory Company's Dowling Theater and Pell Chafee Performance Center. The annual fundraising event will be co-chaired by Academy Award-nominee and former Trinity Rep Artistic Director Richard Jenkins and his wife ShaRon Jenkins;Tony Award-winning set designer Eugene Lee and his wife Brooke Lee; and Trinity Rep board member Kibbe Reilly and husband Tom Reilly. Mrs. Nuala Pell will serve as the event's honorary chair. Individual tickets to the full event (which includes a VIP cocktail reception as well as a post-ceremony reception featuring hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and an open bar) are $500; a limited number of individual tickets to the ceremony and post-show reception are $250, and corporate sponsorships are available. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Trinity Rep's artistic and educational programs. Together with business, political and social leaders, guests at this fun and fabulous cocktail affair will mix, mingle, and enjoy delicious food and desserts provided by Russell Morin Fine Catering. For more information and reservations, contact Trinity Rep at (401) 453-9235.
Artistic Director Curt Columbus said, "I'm so proud that we'll be able to offer a sort of homecoming for the stunning and brilliant Viola Davis, and that she'll be joining us to accept the Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts on the very stage where she began her career. For us to be able to count a talent like Ms. Davis among the names who have walked the boards here at Trinity Repertory Company over the years is an honor. To have her back in Providence for this special evening will be nothing less than a delight."
Columbus will also bestow the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts on Elaine Foster Perry, an arts educator and advocate beyond compare. "One of the core values of Trinity Repertory Company's mission is its commitment to education – particularly education in our own community," said Columbus. "Elaine Foster Perry exemplifies this in a way that few others can – a celebrated force in arts education for over 40 years in Rhode Island and on the national theater scene; her impact continues to be felt on stages near and far. It's particularly special that we are able to honor her at this year's Pell Awards, as Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Viola Davis was one of her students."
Curt Columbus describes Brown University President and winner of the Pell Award for Leadership in Arts Education as "an invaluable asset" to educating the next generation of artists and arts patrons. "Ruth's outstanding commitment to education, first as a much-lauded student, then teacher, and now university administrator, has been a lifelong passion from which we've all benefitted. We are certainly not the first institution to count Ruth among those we've been able to honor – and we are so lucky to have counted her among our many supporters in Rhode Island over her tenure at Brown, particularly in helping to launch the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs and bring them to the prestige they enjoy today."
J.L. "Lynn" Singleton, winner of the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts, is a "wonderful friend and colleague to all Rhode Islanders, but especially those of us in the downtown arts district," said Columbus. "I can't think of a better neighbor to have in downtown Providence than the Providence Performing Arts Center, and I'm so pleased to be able to count Lynn, the man at its helm, among the many distinguished leaders of the arts movement in Rhode Island. His tireless work to bring world-renowned performing artists to downtown Providence is part of what makes this city – and this state – such a vibrant, thrilling place to live."
Now in their second decade, the Pell Awards were established to honor Senator Claiborne Pell and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and on the national level. Pell, who passed away in 2009, worked throughout his career to support the arts and provide new opportunities for artists. He sponsored the landmark legislation that established the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities in 1965, and chaired the Senate Education and Arts subcommittee. He also served a four-year term on the board of Trinity Repertory Company. "Senator Claiborne Pell was a democrat in the truest sense of the word, in that he believed that everyone should have access to arts, education, and culture. While he is sorely missed, we are honored to be able to keep his memory alive through the Pell Awards," stated Curt Columbus.
Previous Pell Award honorees include Adrian Hall, Amy Morton, Liza Minnelli, Kevin Spacey, Jason Robards, Arthur Miller, Beverly Sills, Stephen Sondheim, Toni Morrison, Robert Redford, Maurice Sendak, Jane Alexander, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Chita Rivera, Olympia Dukakis, and Trinity Rep's resident Acting Company. Since the inception of the Pell Awards in 1997, there have been forty New England and Rhode Island winners, including Senator Pell, Lowry Marshall, Steven Weinberg, Umberto "Bert" Crenca, George Wein, Peter Geisser, Consuelo Sherba, Roger Mandle, Howard Ben Tré, Dorothy Jungels, Chris Van Allsburg, Paula Vogel, Eugene Lee, David MacCaulay, Rose Weaver, Thomas Sgouros, Dave McKenna, Maria Spacagna, William Warner, Brian Dennehy, Barbara Meek, Ruth Frisch Dealy, Gretchen Dow Simpson, Dan Butterworth, Virginia Lynch, Toots Zynsky, George Kent, Bob Colonna and Duke Robillard.
Viola Davis is a critically revered actress of film, television and theater and has won rave reviews for her intriguingly diverse roles.
In March, Davis will begin production in New Orleans on Richard LaGravenese's "Beautiful Creatures" opposite Emma Thompson and Jack O'Connell. The LaGravenese-penned adaptation of the Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia novel follows two teens who must confront a curse that has haunted the girl's family for generations. Davis plays a librarian and friend of the teenage boy's deceased mother who loves him like a son and will do whatever she can to protect him. Warner Bros. and Alcon are producing. Also this year, Davis signed on to Summit Entertainment's "Ender's Game." Set in Earth's future, this story follows a genius strategist recruited by the government to help destroy an insect-like alien racE. Davis will play a military psychologist who oversees the emotional welfare of young trainees. Gavin Hood will direct, and the film also stars Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. Hood penned the adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel.