Governor's Awards for the Arts


The North Dakota Governor’s Awards for the Arts program is presented by the Governor’s Office and the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) to recognize organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts in the state.

The online awards ceremony honoring this year’s outstanding recipients was held on Wednesday, February 3 from 6:30 to 7:30pm.

The public is always welcome and encouraged to participate in this wonderful celebration of the arts in North Dakota. This event was free.

Bios of the 2021 Recipients

2021 Ceremony Program

Nominations were reviewed by NDCA and final candidates were submitted to the Governor for selection of the award winners. Governor Doug Burgum selected the recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Awards for the Arts, from 27 nominations. The six selected are as follows:

Congratulations to the 2021 award recipients!

Arts in Education: Dr. Jo Ann Miller (Fargo)

Arts Organization: Minot Area Council of the Arts (Minot)

Individual Achievement: Melissa Gordon (Bismarck) and David "WhiteThunder" Trottier (Rugby)

Individual Cultural Heritage: Rex Cook (Dickinson)

Private Business: Maryhill Manor with Enderlin Fine Arts Association (Enderlin)

To register visit

Awards are presented in five categories

  • Arts in Education (educator, school, or administrator)
  • Arts Organization
  • Individual Achievement (artist, staff, or volunteer)
  • Individual Cultural Heritage
  • Private Business

Criteria for the awards include

  • Expanding arts opportunities to new audiences
  • Improving the quality of arts experiences
  • Creating an appreciation for North Dakota’s cultural heritage
  • Making the arts more central to education and an integral part of community life
  • Length of service in the arts
Past Award Recipients

2019: Arts in Education: Annette Hovey (New Rockford); Arts Organization: Jamestown Fine Arts Association (Jamestown); Cultural Treasure: John Gross (Napoleon); Individual Achievement: David Borlaug (Bismarck) and Jessie Veeder (Watford City); Private Business: Office Sign Company (Fargo)

2017: Paul Noot (Bismarck), The Arts Partnership (Fargo), Deb Belquist (New Rockford), Bennett Brien (Belcourt), Jon Offutt (Fargo) ~ NDCA would also like to thank Matt Fern, Owner of The Creative Treatment, for filming and creating this wonderful video of the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts Ceremony. The video is available at

2015: Keith Bear (New Town), Linda Christman (Bismarck), Chuck Suchy (Mandan), Marilyn Johnson (Bismarck), Annette Rorvig (McVille) 

2013: Taylor Barnes (Jamestown), Eddie “King” Johnson (Rolla), Dr. Thomas Porter (Bismarck), North Dakota Art Gallery Association (Minot), Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre (Grand Forks)

2011: North Valley Arts Council (Grand Forks), Northern Lights Arts Council (Langdon), Sleepy Hollow Summer Theater (Bismarck), Hardy Lieberg (Minot), The Hotel Donaldson (Fargo)

2009: Bradley Bachmeier (Fargo), Scott Prebys (Bismarck), Agnes Palanuk (Dickinson), Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts (New Rockford), Tom and Frances Leach Foundation, Inc. (Bismarck)

2007: Beth Gigante Klingenstein (Valley City), Little Country Theatre/NDSU Theatre (Fargo), Laurel Reuter (Grand Forks), Cynthia Schumaier-Jelleberg (Belcourt)

2005: Bill Eckroth (Bismarck), Gene Okerlund (Fargo), Glory Monson (Rugby), Walter Piehl (Minot), International Music Camp (Minot/International Peace Gardens)

2003: Mary Louise Defender Wilson (Shields), Jack Dyville and B. Michael Quale (Williston), Grand Forks Public Schools (Dr. Mark Sanford, Superintendent), Trollwood Performing Arts Schools (Fargo)

2001: Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz (Fargo), Sue Jacobson (Bottineau), David Hamilton (Fargo-Moorhead), Nelson County Arts Council (Pekin)

1999: Linda Whitney (Valley City), Rebecca Engelman (Bismarck), Gwinner Junior Players (Gwinner), Summer Performing Arts Company (Grand Forks), Hornbacher’s Foods (Fargo-Moorhead)

1997: Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre (Fargo), Wayne and Bernice Stroup (Garrison)

1995: Cando Arts Council (Cando), Hal and Kathy Gershman (Grand Forks), James D. Ployhar (Fargo)

1993: David Hanna (Fargo), Jean Waldera (Dickinson), Fargo-Moorhead Civic Opera (Fargo)

1991: Rosemary Landsberger (Bismarck), Peter Schickele (New York City)

1989: Alma Studness (Devils Lake), Catherine Mulligan (Fargo)

1987: Frederick Walsh (Fargo), The Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks)

1985: Vern Bennett (Fargo), Rose and Francis Cree (Dunseith)

1983: Winifred B. Stump (Dickinson), The Straus Company of North Dakota

1982: Fritz Scholder (Scottsdale, Arizona)

1981: Anne-Marit Bergstrom (Devils Lake), Phyllis Frelich (New York City), Anne W. Ness (Fort Ransom), Fargo-Moorhead Orchestral Association (Fargo)

1979: Mary Gray (Valley City), Belle Mehus (Bismarck), Plains Art Museum (Fargo)

1978: Alene Larson (Fargo), Arlene Saugstad (Minot), Prairie Arts and Humanities Council (Hettinger)

1977: John Hove (Fargo), Nellie Solberg (Bismarck), Merton Utgaard (Bottineau), Sheyenne Valley Arts and Crafts Association (Fort Ransom)