The Cultural Council Sponsors the Annual Laurel Awards each year to honor outstanding volunteers for the arts in our county, nominated by nonprofit members of the Cultural Council.

2017 Awards will be held at Riverside Theatre on May 18, 2017

Over the past 20 years, the Cultural Council has promoted the cultural arts through education, collaboration, marketing, programming and advocacy. During this time the Cultural Council created the Laurel Awards to recognize leadership in the cultural arts.




Richard A. Stark Award for Cultural Leadership awarded to an individual who demonstrates exceptional leadership in promoting the cultural arts, and in providing encouragement, involvement, and motivation to others in support of the cultural arts.

Alma Lee Loy Award for Volunteer Leadership awarded to an outstanding individual who, as a volunteer, demonstrates selfless dedication to the cultural arts, and devoted energy, passion, time and support of a nonprofit cultural organization.

Willie C. Reagan Award for Educational Leadership awarded to an arts educator to honor, recognize, celebrate, and advocate arts education for all whose talent and leadership keeps the arts alive for people of all ages.

John J. Schumann, Jr. Award for Business Leadership awarded to an individual or business who demonstrates outstanding commitment to a nonprofit cultural organization(s) in support of their operations, enabling growth and sustainability.


Maestro Aaron Collins
Space Coast Symphony
Richard A. Stark Award for Cultural Leadership

Aaron Collins, a graduate of the University of Florida, has devoted his life to music and the cultural arts. He has given a voice to new composers, a home to hundreds of musicians, and built artistic communities throughout Brevard and Indian River County. As Artistic Director and Conductor of the nonprofit Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, Aaron’s passion and leadership in the arts is legendary throughout Florida.

The Space Coast Symphony is a leader in community collaborations. Aaron’s concern for music education and his recognition of the special role an orchestra can play in the community inspired the design and implementation of Symphony for Everyone, designed to provide substantially discounted or free admission to any concert. He has enriched the educational and cultural experiences for students who are the future leaders of the community, developed chamber ensembles for young musicians, provided conducting and coaching opportunities for thousands of students, and developed young musicians through the Mentorship Program to help ensure the future of professional orchestras. This modern-day Renaissance man inspires and possesses that unique consummate style of mentorship that can weave the thread of dreams and add to the tapestry of Aaron’s leadership.


Dr. Carole Strauss
American Association of University Women, Vero Beach Theatre Guild
Alma Lee Loy Award for Volunteer Leadership

Carole Strauss, a licensed psychologist with a doctorate in clinical psychology, has given financial, physical, emotional and creative support to arts and culture in Indian River County since her arrival here in 1998. As President of the AAUW, responding to national statistics showing that girls typically stay away from careers in science, technology, engineering and math believing those fields are only for boys, Carol initiated the first STEM Summit in IRC, in collaboration with FAU, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and the Education Foundation of IRC. She turned to cultural events to raise funds for scholarships for women and led the AAUW-Vero Beach to its not-for-profit 501c3 designation. She is a strong supporter of AAUW programs to bring women together to learn, to share their lives, and to support local and national programs that help young women get an education and take their place in society.

Carole has worked tirelessly for the Theatre Guild for over 18 years, holding every board position, doing every task from President to Treasurer to Board member to technical tasks of producing, set design and decorating, ticketing and take their places in society. She was a strong proponent of the building expansion, and her customer focus is unrivaled. Combining her love of theatre and medicine, Carole provided guidance and support for the Indian River Medical Center Ethics Committee in the production of the “Senior Moments” play at the Theatre Guild. Carole epitomizes the level of volunteering to which all others strive. She is what volunteering is all about.


Lis Bech
Indian River County School District
Willie C. Reagan Award for Educational Arts Leadership

Lis Bech has been teaching art to both elementary and secondary students in Indian River County since 1998. She is Department Chair for electives and the Art Teacher at Sebastian River Middle School. Lis Bech is a powerful example of understanding the relationship between student and teacher. It is observable in her students’ eyes as they absorb her lessons creating a rare excitement fueled by learning something new; an unmistakable light. It is audible in the hallways when students discuss her class and upcoming projects; giddy chatter marked by enthusiasm. It is evident in her results. She goes above and beyond to bring the community into the school with pottery nights and grant writing to organizations and businesses. In addition to teaching full time at public schools, Lis continually volunteers her services with special projects to both enhance her students learning experience and to assist other local organizations in their educational programs.
A passing glance at Liz’s impressive resume ultimately illustrates the tale of a teacher who, herself, continues to learn. Her commitment to continual professional development, grading practices, Indian River County Education Association, and cultural workshops are just a few of her endeavors. She is eager to learn and always strives to find ways to help the students with art and literacy. Cultural connection is one of her strongest attributes. She excels at embracing the students and their backgrounds into their art.


Treasure & Space Coast Radio
Jim Davis, General Manager
John J. Schumann, Jr Award for Business Leadership

The Treasure and Space Coast Radio (TSCR) broadcasts on 5 radio stations: 1440 News Radio WTTB; 97.1 Ocean FM; 99.7 Jack FM; 93.7 the Breeze; and 94.7 Hot Country. Their dedication and interest in fostering the expansion of the arts is boundless. They understand that a vital community consists not only of caring engaged individuals and successful businesses, but also a vibrant arts and culture scene that creates an exciting and well-rounded community. TSCR is an active medium in an active community, stirring emotion, creating demand, selling products, services, and cultural events, always with a focus on the people who live in Indian River
County. Its’ staff is knowledgeable, talented, kind, patient, available and supportive. TSCR is supportive of all cultural activities in Indian River County, promoting art, music, dance and literary happenings. They help generously with on-air interviews, designing ad campaigns, working within available budgets. They operate with a focus on events and people “in their own backyards.” They not only broadcast from their studios but occasionally move around the area with remote broadcasting to support fundraising efforts of many not-for-profit organizations.

TSCR has set high standards for other businesses in other fields – nurturing and assisting the arts in Indian River County with time, knowledge and funds. TSCR demonstrates outstanding commitment to nonprofit cultural organizations in support of their operations, enabling their growth and sustainability. Treasure & Space Coast Radio is worthy of continuing the Schumann legacy.







New Laurel Award categories were created in 2013:

Richard A. Stark Award for Cultural Leadership

Maestro Stewart Robinson (2015), Mark P. Wygonik (2014), Jon Moses (2013)

Alma Lee Loy Award for Volunteer Leadership

Anita Astrachan (2015), Susan and Ed Smith (2014), Donald Croteau and Susan Grandpierre (2013)

Willie C. Reagan Award for Educational Leadership (created in 2015)

Bridget Lyons (2015)

John Schumann Award for Business Leadership

White Glove Moving, Storage & Delivery, Pak Mail Beachside, President Phil DeLange (2015), Beth Moulton, Publisher, Vero Beach Magazine (2014), Springhill Suites by Marriott, Keith Kite (2013)

Recipients 1996 - 2011

Philanthropic/Business Leadership An individual or business group providing consistent generous financial support of Indian River County’s cultural community or Outstanding monetary contributions to one or more cultural organizations, facilitating operations, enabling growth or providing for its future.
Past recipients include:
Dr. Ben Emerson, Jafar Falasiri/Falasiri Oriental Rugs; Bev & Marty Paris/Paris Productions; Kevin Grady/ PNC Wealth Management; Karl Steene/Indian River National Bank, Tom & Rhonda Lowe/Rock City Gardens, Nancy and Peter Benedict, John Schumann, Robert Bauchman/Northern Trust; Betty Abbott, Richard and Helen Post, Jack & Anne Morton, Carolyn K. Eggert, Eleonora McCabe, John Moore, Danforth Richardson.

Volunteer/Activist Leadership: An individual who has devoted energy, passion, time and support to a CAC member organization with no compensation, and whose selfless dedication should be recognized
Past recipients include: Al Smith, Cathie Callery; Crystal Bujol; Suzan Phillips, Toni Hamner, Harriet Yemm, Joyce Levi, Charlotte Terry, Raz Allen and Trish Bridwell, Keith Pelan, Janetta MacPhail and Penny Odiorne; Millie Bunnell, Henry “Pop” Seeley, Barbara Ferrell, Laurie Kaneb, Leonor L. Gonzalez

Cultural/Professional Leadership: An individual employee of a CAC member organization, in either artistic or administrative position, whose outstanding performance and commitment to their organization and the cultural community deserves special recognition.
Past recipients include: Matthew V. Stott, Warren Obluck; Joe Ellis; Mary Schenkel, Pamela Cooper, Willi Miller, Gary Miller, Chuck Still, Kelley Coppage, Janet Alford, Andrew McMullen, Ron Brockway, Allen D. Cornell, Holly Dill, Ray Adams, Ken Macht

Carolyn K. Eggert Award: An individual or individuals who have made long-term, noteworthy contributions of both money and time to the wider cultural community. Not awarded every year, only at the discretion of the selection committee.
Past recipients include: Joan and Roman Ortega-Cowan; Robert Gibb; Bob & Sandy Brackett; Lori Burns, Bill and Nancy Bryant, Richard and Barbara Stark, Harry W. Walker, Edgar W. Holtz, W. Kent Barclay, Nancy Elizabeth Reed, Alma Lee Loy, George & Jean Armstrong, Linda Downey.

Artist Award: Inaugurated in 2008, this award recognizes a creative artist who is a legal resident of Indian River County. This award is intended to recognize artists who have earned the respect of the community and their peers, for their dedication to their art and to their commitment to making art in Indian River County. Fields of creativity include, but are not limited to: writer, poet, illustrator, graphic artist, fine artist, architect, video artist, performance artist, actor, playwright, musician, composer, choreographer, dancer.
Past Recipients Include: Sharon Morgan, Del & Jean Petersen; Marlene Putnam; Jean Nagy was the first recipient of this award in 2008