Awards to honor Yorkers' creativity


Bill Kerlin, a philanthropist who, with his wife Kim, chaired the recent capital campaign for Creative York (formerly YorkArts), said he has no knack for making art.

"I have no artistic talent in my body," Kerlin said. "But I have an appreciation for those who do."

Artistic talent is not a necessary criteria for the Creative York Awards, which will be given out at a ceremony on Oct. 23. The organization will recognize community-minded people and organizations that show their creativity in various ways — not necessarily by making art, though some are artists.

Bill and Kim Kerlin, who will share a Creative York Award, are philanthropists who prioritize art and "see the value of investing in art in York," said Laura Abbott, the organization's director of marketing and development.

Before they were asked to chair Creative York's capital campaign, Kerlin and his wife had a pact to politely say no.

"But I was involved in the good things going on downtown," he said, "and supporting a leading arts organization is an important component of that." Creative York plays a key part in the revitalization of the city, and "to transform downtown and make it a stronger place, we need to support its entire revitalization," Kerlin said.

The Kerlins were excited by the community's response to the capital campaign, which exceeded its goal by about $200,000, he said. "York has a way of stepping up to meet challenges, and we feel very fortunate that people stepped up and said yes to what we were asking."

The couple will accept the award "on behalf of the generous donors in the community," Kerlin said.

There will be a total of six awards: four Creative York Awards, one President's Award, which will go to the current president of the organization's board of directors, and one Big Idea Award.

The honorees: Donna Sylvester will receive the President's Award.

"She's been amazing as a board member and community member," Abbott said.

Sylvester, who says she has been involved with the organization for 14 or 15 years and is serving her third term as president of the board, loves the outreach Creative York has done for decades.

"As an artist, I feel like the arts are crucial to us all as human beings," she said.

She cited the Art in the Parks program, in which Creative York staff members bring materials to different locations around the city to give children opportunities to make art.

Tom Myers, an art teacher at Dallastown Area High School, will receive a Creative York Award for his efforts at connecting students with opportunities to make art beyond the classroom, Abbott said.

Myers' students offer face-painting at various school and community events, with proceeds going to support organizations like Dollars for Scholars and Communities That Care. The art teacher is excited about a recent project in which he and his students cooperated with Pewtarex to design Rhino frames to represent the school. The frames, which he said can be mounted on the fronts of cars where a license plate would go, are being sold to raise funds for Communities That Care.

York Wallcoverings will receive the same award for "craftsmanship and creativity in the business world," Abbott said.

Sharon Becker, who works in the commercial division of York Wallcoverings, said of her employer, "Everything I touch ... of course there are logistics involved, but it's full of creative energy. They put design first. With some companies, it's financials first."

A couple will share the remaining Creative York Award.

George and Bambi Long are art collectors. George Long is involved with the Pennsylvania Arts Experience and has served on the board of Creative York; Bambi Long works with Logos Academy to bring children downtown to see art.

Public voting: People can vote on Creative York's Big Idea Award until the end of the day Friday, Abbott said. There is a link on the event's Facebook page to the place on Creative York's website where people can vote.

The nominees are YorKitchen, a business incubator that also serves as an educational and meeting space; Impact Arts and Culture Conference, whose goal is to bring together the area's arts community so it can thrive; and the Girls Go Digital program at Martin Library, which was created to address the gender gap in the technology sector.

Last year the nominees for the Big Idea Award were Foodstruck York, the Wayne White residency at York College and the city's Buddy Bench project. The Buddy Bench project won.

David Kelley, founder of the at Stanford University, will be the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony. Kelley is a pioneer in design thinking, a set of ideas that empowers people to come up with solutions to problems and "see themselves as creative thinkers," Abbott said.

Creative York is in the process of re-branding itself, making a shift in identity that aligns with the principles of design thinking.

It's not just about "learning the fundamentals of making art," Abbott said, "but applying creative thinking to all areas of life."

The awards ceremony, for which all tickets have already been sold, will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at The Bond, 134 E. King St. in York.

— Reach Julia Scheib at