2020 NASAA Leadership Awards: Gary Young Award

Gary Gibbs

Executive Director, Texas Commission on the Arts

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Gary Gibbs, executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, the recipient of its 2020 Gary Young Award. The award recognizes an executive director who has exhibited exemplary leadership and made a significant contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels.

A native Texan, Gary was educated in and has spent the majority of his career in the state. He earned a B.M.E. (voice) from Baylor University (Waco), an M.M. (voice) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth) and a Ph.D. (musicology) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Prior to beginning his career in arts administration, he sang professionally in Europe and taught at all levels, kindergarten through college.

For 16 years, Gary served as the director of education and outreach for Houston Grand Opera. The programs he developed were nationally recognized and served as models that opera companies replicated throughout the United States.

In 2007, he assumed leadership of the Texas Commission on the Arts as executive director. Upon his arrival, Gary restructured the agency’s grants programs by simplifying the application process and aligning the grants with the priorities of Texas state government: economic development, education, health and human services, criminal justice and public safety, and natural resources and agriculture.

Gary has been honored to serve as a past member and chair of the board of NASAA, and is a current member of the board of the Mid-America Arts Alliance. He has served as a grants evaluator at the local, state and federal levels.

Although his position requires attention to the arts field throughout the huge state of Texas, Gary still finds time to be an ardent sports fan (especially college football) and a collector of decorative art glass.

“NASAA is honored to recognize Gary Gibbs and his many accomplishments with the Gary Young Award,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “The intelligent advocacy he executed throughout his state, his political acumen and his dedication to universal accessibility to the arts have broadened and advanced public support for the arts in Texas. His thoughtful and steadfast leadership has extended to all areas of Texas, the region, and the nation and has made a long-lasting impact on the state arts agency field. I can think of none more deserving to receive this highest of distinctions for executive leadership in our field.”

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.

Previous Gary Young Award Recipients

2018 Suzanne Wise, Nebraska
2016 Randall Rosenbaum, Rhode Island
2014 Rich Boyd, Tennessee
2012 Christine D’Arcy, Oregon
2010 Arlynn (Arni) Fishbaugh, Montana
2008 Suzette Surkamer, South Carolina
2007 David Fraher, Minnesota
2006 Robert Booker, Arizona
2005 Philip Horn, Pennsylvania
2004 Dennis Holub, South Dakota
2003 Barbara Fulton Moran, New Jersey
2002 John Paul Batiste, Texas
2001 James Backas, Maryland
2000 Betty Price, Oklahoma
1999 Peggy Baggett, Virginia
1998 Al Head, Alabama
1997 Bennett Tarleton, Tennessee
1996 Shelley Cohn, Arizona
1995 Mary Hays, New York
1994 Wayne Lawson, Ohio
1993 Alden C. Wilson, Maine
1992 David Nelson, Montana
1991 Mary Regan, North Carolina

2020 Leadership Awards Task Force

CHAIR: Bruce Richardson, Former Chair, Wyoming
Tina Betz, Council Member, Delaware
Anne Bown-Crawford, Executive Director, California
Michael Donovan, Executive Director, Missouri
Fritz Jellinghaus, Chair, Connecticut
Kim Konikow, Executive Director, North Dakota
Kevin Miller, Chair, Wisconsin
Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director, Rhode Island
Sandi Sanders, Chair, Arkansas
Sandy Shaughnessy, Division Director, Florida