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Photo Credit: David Vernon

ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. announced Sid & Flo Banwart as the 2021 recipients of the ArtsPartners of the Year Award at their Annual Meeting on Wednesday, November 17. The ArtsPartners of the Year Award recognizes exemplary support of and service to the arts in central Illinois. Past ArtsPartners of the Year include Joe & Michelle Richey, Preston Jackson, Joan and Bob Ericksen, George and Norma Kottemann, and most recently, Sharon Samuels Reed. Announcing this year’s award was ArtsPartners’ board President, Mary Jo Papich. Sid and Flo Banwart accepted the award in a pre-recorded video that was shared at the event.

“We are very honored to be recognized and humbled to be included in such a distinguished group of arts advocates and supporters”, said Sid and Flo.  “We’ve lived in a lot of different cities over the last 45 years and the ones that are great places to live wind up with a strong arts community…clearly the two go together. I think it contributes to a higher standard of living! It contributes to being able to recruit people to come to the city and stay in the city. We are pleased to support the arts in Peoria because it is the right thing to do.”

During his 41-year career at Caterpillar, Sid played a key role in bringing the Caterpillar Visitor Center project to fruition, and helped ensure that the Peoria Riverfront Museum would be located next door. In addition to her philanthropic work and leadership, Flo founded numerous sewing groups over the years, and is known for her breathtaking quilt designs. Together they have quietly and faithfully furthered the mission of many arts organizations and non-profit groups in the greater Peoria region, servings on boards, underwriting programs, and cultivating partnerships that enhance the vibrancy and further the impact of the arts in central Illinois. Their leadership paved the way for groundbreaking collaborations between the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and WTVP, resulting in the Musical Discovery educational program and the Sound Bites concert series. These programs were designed to extend the cultural impact and presence of the PSO beyond performances on the stage through local public TV broadcasts to reach people who may not have the ability or opportunity to attend Peoria Symphony concerts.

Additionally, ArtsPartners honored WTVP with the Arts Legacy Award in recognition of 50 years of outstanding service to the community. The award was presented by ArtsPartners’ past President Kristan McKinsey, who highlighted WTVP’s commitment to the arts and culture in our region through their extensive efforts to invest in, support, and promote local arts programming. WTVP’s CEO and President, Lesley Matuszak was pleased to receive the award and underscored the station’s commitment to increasing local programming and serving the youth in our community. “Thank you,” said Matuszak, “this award means so much not just to me but to our board of directors and everyone who watches the station.”

ArtsPartners of Central Illinois promotes the arts as a vital component of central Illinois’ cultural and economic development. Founded in 1999, ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to build awareness and strengthen the arts for the economic and cultural enrichment of central Illinois.

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