Rich Boyd of Tennessee Honored with NASAA's 2014 Gary Young Award

Rich Boyd

Photo by Dean Dixon Photography

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Rich Boyd, former executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, the recipient of its 2014 Gary Young Award. The award recognizes Boyd’s exemplary leadership, innovative thinking, and extraordinary contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels. The award was presented on November 15 during NASAA’s annual conference, Assembly 2014, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Boyd served as executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission in a career that spanned 28 years of service (1984-2012), including 15 years as assistant director. Under his leadership, the Arts Commission became a national leader among state arts agencies in terms of public funding, arts education, advocacy, cultural heritage, strategic planning, support for individual artists and innovative services to constituents.

Boyd’s leadership resulted in the rebirth of a statewide arts advocacy organization and the formation of a state legislative arts caucus, considered a national model. He expanded the Arts Commission’s Arts Education Program, resulting in $2 million in two Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grants from the U.S. Department of Education for the Value Plus Schools and Arts 360° programs. Tennessee was the only state arts agency to have been awarded consecutive federal funding under this program.

Boyd designated increased funding for the development of a distinguished Folklife Program to preserve and promote Tennessee’s cultural heritage. He led the Tennessee Arts Commission’s participation in the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece Initiative that identified the Fisk University Jubilee Singers as a state and national treasure. In the words of one colleague, Boyd “put the arts in Tennessee on the map.”

“NASAA applauds Rich’s receipt of the Gary Young Award, which is our field’s highest honor for executive leadership and represents a ‘standing ovation’ from the entire nation,” said NASAA Interim Chief Executive Officer Kelly Barsdate. “We salute his many program innovations, his savvy policy leadership, his championship of the arts and the passion he brings to public service.”

The Gary Young Award was established by the New England Foundation for the Arts to honor the memory of a man who made numerous contributions to the state arts council movement in the United States, and to provide recognition to those who carry on his tradition of leadership in this field.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is the membership organization that unites, represents and serves the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. Founded in 1968, NASAA represents their individual and collective interests, empowers their work through knowledge and advances the arts as an essential public benefit. To learn more about NASAA and state arts agencies, visit