ATLANTA – Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp on Tuesday announced the recipients of the 12th annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities to honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Georgia in these fields. The awards are presented in partnership with Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities.

“On behalf of the State of Georgia, congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “These talented Georgians and organizations have made meaningful contributions to Georgia’s economy, culture, and overall quality of life. We’re thankful for all they’ve done to make our state more vibrant.”

“We are honored to celebrate these gifted recipients alongside our partners with the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Humanities,” said First Lady Marty Kemp. “These 10 recipients represent the diversity of arts and culture we are fortunate to enjoy in communities across the state. From music and dance, architects and champions of historic preservation, to festivals that bring together all kinds of Georgians, we are grateful for the work of these talented individuals and organizations.”

Following a competitive nominations process, 10 members of the arts and humanities communities from across Georgia were awarded with this year’s honor. The recipients represent a diverse group of individuals and organizations that have contributed to, and supported the growth of, Georgia’s thriving creative industries through community involvement, pioneering programs, and long-term financial commitment.

The recipients of the 12th Annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities are listed below:

  • Altama Museum, Toombs County
  • Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Fulton County
  • Ballethnic Dance Company, Fulton County
  • Harold Rittenberry, Clarke County
  • Historic Rural Churches of Georgia, statewide
  • Jonathan SE Perkins, Muscogee County
  • Dr. Karan Berryman Pittman, Randolph County
  • Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam, Fulton County
  • Morris Robinson, Fayette County
  • Otis Redding Foundation, Bibb County

Each recipient will receive handmade sculptures created by Mark A. Nelson. A brief description about each of the 2023 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities winners is below, and a more thorough description is available in the online program.

Altama Museum
The Altama Museum is a critical regional institution in Vidalia dedicated to preserving and developing community identity, promoting visual and performing arts, offering educational opportunities, fostering connection, and supporting area businesses, artists, performers, and historians. The Altama serves as both a local history museum and gallery for local and regional artists.

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is an annual event in Atlanta for more than 75 years that draws 250,000 visitors to see the work of artists and participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations. The Festival has a long history of celebrating and supporting the arts in Georgia, including support of young artists and youth art programs through its Atlanta High School Art Exhibition (AHSAE), which includes nearly 20 counties in the greater metro-Atlanta area, and related scholarships.

Ballethnic Dance Company

Ballethnic Dance Company is a classically trained, culturally diverse arts organization providing training and performance opportunities to professional and pre-professional dancers, children, and emerging artists, known for its unique and authentic praxis of blending ballet with African dance concepts.

Harold Rittenberry

Rittenberry taught himself to weld after seeing an acetylene torch in a Sears catalogue. His work can be found at the Atlanta Folk Art Park, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Athens Clarke County Library, the Lyndon House Art Center, Centennial Olympic Park, the Atlanta Municipal Court and the East Point Library, among other sites.

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia (HRCGA) is a network of volunteer photographers founded in 2012 by Sonny Seals and George Hart with a mission to research, document, and ultimately preserve historic rural churches across the state. “Historic Rural Churches of Georgia,” with a foreword by President Jimmy Carter, is an award-winning book now in its fourth printing, and HRCGA has an ongoing collaboration with Pitts Theology Library and Emory University.

Jonathan SE Perkins

Perkins is a teaching artist, spoken word comedian, actor, activist, and playwright. Listed on the Georgia Council for the Arts Teaching Artists Registry, Perkins teaches K-12 students how to use creativity as a means for emotional health, personal growth, and professional prosperity. He received with the 2022 Leadership Award by the Georgia After School & Youth Development Conference for exemplifying excellence in the field of expanded learning, and has developed and facilitated lessons for students at Aaron Cohn Regional Youth Detention Center, Muscogee County Department of Juvenile Justice, and Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home for Girls.

Dr. Karan Berryman Pittman

Dr. Pittman is the Dean of Academic Affairs at Andrew College in Cuthbert. Dr. Pittman has worked to save historic buildings in downtown Cuthbert, and the renovated buildings have led to a renewal in tourism and community development and has brought the Fine Arts of Andrew College downtown.

Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam

Scogin and Elam, the two principals of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Inc., have a career-long engagement with the Georgia arts communities – including projects with NEXUS (now Atlanta Contemporary), Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries, the High Museum, and MOCA GA.

Morris Robinson

Robinson is a graduate of The Citadel and received his musical training from the Boston University Opera Institute and as a member of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program. Robinson co-developed “The 96-Hour Opera Project,” a project of The Atlanta Opera to support the careers of BIPOC emerging creative artists, both composers and librettists, through competition and performance opportunities.

Otis Redding Foundation

Created in 2007, The Otis Redding Foundation currently offers lessons, therapy, camps, museum tours, and more, almost exclusively to disadvantaged young people. With the construction of the Otis Redding Center for the Arts beginning in 2023, the Foundation will be able to serve and instill hope in even more young people.

About the Award Partners

Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) works to cultivate the growth of vibrant, thriving Georgia communities through the arts as part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s mission. GCA provides grant funding and statewide programs and services that support the vital arts industry, preserve the state’s cultural heritage, increase tourism, and nurture strong communities. Funding for GCA is provided by appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit

Georgia Humanities promotes and preserves the stories and cultural legacies of the state’s people — from the past to the present and into the future — to enrich their lives and strengthen their communities. An informed and educated Georgia understands historical and cultural trends, respects the life of the mind, utilizes critical thinking in decision-making, and promotes mutual respect and civility. Funding for Georgia Humanities is provided by the Georgia General Assembly, the National Endowment for the Humanities, foundations, donors, and partners. For more information, visit

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