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Peoria, Ill. – ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. announced Rebekah Bourland as the 2022 recipient of the ArtsPartners of the Year Award at their Annual Meeting on Thursday, November 10. The ArtsPartners of the Year Award recognizes exemplary support of and service to the arts in central Illinois. Past ArtsPartners of the Year recipients include Joe & Michelle Richey, Preston Jackson, Joan and Bob Ericksen, George and Norma Kottemann, John & Sharon Amdall, John & Jeff Heintzman, Sharon Samuels Reed, and most recently, Sid and Flo Banwart.  Announcing this year’s award was ArtsPartners’ immediate past president, Mary Jo Papich, and board president, Frannie Heine. Rebekah was not able to attend the event. Pat White accepted the award on her behalf.

Upon accepting the award, Ms. White read a prepared statement by Rebekah, “My dear friends thank you for this wonderful honor. I am humbled by your recognition, and inspired by everything you are doing day after day to enable and enrich the creative culture in our community. Thank you for continuing to emphasize the economic impact of artistic and creative ability. Thank you for assisting the arts and for bringing their message and marketing to the community. Thank you for consistently coming up with and supporting ways to help the arts grow and prosper. It is not a simple task but so necessary. Stay the course. And thank you for keeping ArtsPartners viable and effective in its mission devised so many years ago.”

A lifelong Peorian, Rebekah Bourland has been active in the local arts scene since childhood. Her mother Jane, helped to start Corn Stock Theatre, where Rebekah worked backstage growing up. Over the years, Rebekah lent her talents of writing, directing, acting, and singing to several performance groups including Peoria Players, Illinois Central College, Corn Stock Theatre, and the Peoria Municipal Band. As a staunch advocate for the arts, Rebekah served on the boards of the Community Children’s Theatre, Corn Stock Theatre, Lakeview Museum, ICC Performing Arts Advisory Board, Peoria Municipal Band Commission, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Peoria Civic Center Authority, Peoria Women’s Fund, and more. Notably, she served as a founding board member of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois. She is widely considered to be a “leader among leaders” with the effects of her decades of hard work and advocacy still visible today throughout the arts community.

“I was fortunate enough to work with Rebekah on the steering committee for ArtsPartners in the 1990s”, noted Mary Jo Papich. “Her efforts were tireless. She knew the value of the impact of the arts on a community, not just culturally, but economically as well. It’s time for Rebekah to be recognized and honored by the organization that would not be here today without her incredible leadership.”

Additionally, ArtsPartners presented the Arts Legacy Award to two well deserved honorees; the Peoria Symphony Orchestra in recognition of their 125th season; and the Carver Center in recognition of their 100th anniversary. Accepting the award on behalf of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra was executive director, Anthony Marotta. Accepting the award on behalf of the Carver Center was CEO and executive director, Jacobi Proctor.


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.

CONTACT: Jenn Gordon, Executive Director, ArtsPartners | 309-258-1327 | [email protected]

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