Videos commemorating the winners of this year's Arts Alliance Mountain Empire Arts Achievement Awards will be posted on our Facebook and YouTube pages.
Beginning May 15 and ending May 29, a new video will be posted on Fridays and Tuesdays. We encourage you to visit and discover more about these hard-working creatives.
This year's winner's are Gary Aday, Steve Baskett, Mary Lucy Bivins, Miles Marek andBrent Treash. We congratulate each winner and honor them for their accomplishments in the arts.
Gary Aday, after studying and working in theater in Texas, Boston, Hawaii, Chicago and New York City, came to Abingdon in 1972 as an assistant professor of speech and drama at Virginia Highlands Community College. Even after retiring in 2013 after 41 years of teaching, he still directs shows, designs and builds sets, and teaches theater workshop classes at the college. The theater department has been developed, nurtured and is still sustained by Aday’s dedication. The theater at the college was named the Keyser-Aday Theatre to honor him and his late colleague, Van Keyser. He directed shows for Theatre Bristol, such as Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” and the original Barter Theatre production of “Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell.”
Steve Basketthas been essential to Theatre Bristol for more than 15 years, both behind the scenes and on the stage. Besides being on the Board of Theatre Bristol for more than a decade, he has been the general house manager and has worked on the set design of most of the theater’s recent shows. He teaches acting and basic carpentry classes for the theater’s summer camp for young people.On stage, Baskett has appeared in more than 30 Theatre Bristol productions, and directed four. Among many others, he has portrayed the iconic roles of Scrooge, Maurice in “Beauty and the Beast,” Gepetto in “Pinocchio,” the Narrator in “Into the Woods.”His baritone voice and ability to transform into various characters have made him a virtual one-person Theatre Bristolcompany.
Mary Lucy Bivinshas been a beloved member of the Barter Theatre community, the arts community and the community at large since she came to Abingdon in 2003. Bivins has acted in more than 100 productions at Barter Theatre, including memorable performances in “Driving Miss Daily,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Lying in State,” “Walking Across Egypt” and “Holiday Memories.”She is noteworthy for making herself available to the audience after every show she has been in, knowing that the audience is the most important factor in theatrical storytelling. Because of her experience, she serves as a mentor to the young actors, demonstrating the dedication, hard work and professionalism that their craft requires.
Miles Marekhas only been the Executive Director at the Paramount Center for the Arts for five years, but he has worked tirelessly to bring the Paramount to its full potential as a regional attraction and economic engine for Bristol’s historic downtown. When Marek arrived at the Paramount, there were fewer than 30 shows a year and few sellouts.In 2019 the center hosted an average of one show a week, with an average attendance of 550 patrons. A Tennessee native, Marek worked for many years in New York City as an actor and as a non-profit and commercial theater producer.He presented thousands of live concerts and theatrical performances – including two plays on Broadway – before Bristol lured him back to the South.
Brent Treashhas been one of the keys to the extraordinary success of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival and the Birthplace of Country Music. He has been a volunteer on the music committee of the festival for 12 years and led the group for several years. He chaired the entire festival during the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Bristol Sessions. He is also on the Birthplace of Country Music Board. Treash’s full-time job is the director of athletic communications at Emory & Henry College where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Mass Communications Department, specializing in electronic media. Treash brings writing talents and communications skills (especially videography) to both his profession as well as his volunteer passions.