A! Magazine for the Arts

Tributes for the 2020 Arts Achievement Winners

April 27, 2020

Steve Baskett

“Steve’s gift for acting and his beautiful baritone voice, along with his ability to transform have made him a virtual one-person Theatre Bristol company. He has been in nearly every show over the last several years, auditioning and without a doubt earning every role he is selected for. Audiences come to a show and see who Steve will be now.”--Samantha Gray, Executive Director of Theatre Bristol

“It is no exaggeration when I say that Steve Baskett does ‘everything’ for Theatre Bristol. He is a very talented actor/singer who has been in numerous shows. He always puts his heart into whatever role he is given, be it a lead or an ensemble part. But more importantly, he is an essential part of Theatre Bristol’s day-to day operations. He does everything from answering the phone to creating intricate props and everything in between. We count on Steve for many things and he never lets us down.”--Suzanne Eleas, President of the Board of Directors, Theatre Bristol

Gary Aday

“Over the course of his nearly 50-year career at Virginia Highlands Community College, Gary has invested himself fully in his students, his theater and his community. In fact, the theater department at VHCC was developed, nurtured, and is still sustained by his dedication.”--Barbara Manuel, Dean of Arts and Sciences, VHCC

“The name on the building says it all: Keyser-Aday Theatre. It’s not everyone who gets a theater named after him, but Gary Aday — a theatre great — is one of those individuals. It has been a distinct privilege and pleasure to count Gary as one of my esteemed colleagues and mentors. His work has graced the VHCC theater for nearly 50 years between designing and building two play sets a year to directing an annual production. Anyone who has had the pleasure to work with Gary knows that they are working with the very best.”--Dona Lee, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies and Theatre, VHCC

Mary Lucy Bivins

“Mary Lucy Bivins glows. A candle that burns with pure love for what she does. Her craftsmanship is remarkable. Look at one of her rehearsal scripts. Colored and jotted and road-mapped. As a fellow actor, working with her is informed by this attention to detail. She actively helps you create your shared world. And that is a world infused with a love for performing. And what the audience gets is a light illuminating the matter at hand: the conflict, the comedy, the passion. Playing Willy Loman to her heartbreaking Linda is something I will carry with me to the other side. Congratulations, Mary Lucy Bivins, my friend from Sparkle City! Your light has always been shining.”--Eugene Wolf, retired Barter actor, musician and storyteller

“It has been my great privilege to work with Mary Lucy Bivins for nearly 20 years. Over that time she has been my colleague, my mentor, my director, my teacher and, above all, my friend. I have always thought that of Mary Lucy’s many gifts, her greatest was her ability to connect with an audience. She loves our audience--to perform for them, to talk with them before or after shows, to befriend them and honor them. Mary Lucy has said many times that her lifelong dream was to be a resident actor at a repertory theatre. We are so lucky that Barter became that place for her. She is the gold standard of what it means to be a Barter company member.”--Nick Piper, Associate Director, Barter Theatre

“My love and admiration for my dear friend and fellow Barter Family member, Mary Lucy is a reflection of her! It knows no bounds, is limitless, unconditional, steadfast, and above all, humble! As brilliant and remarkable as her performances are on stage, the same is true for her outstanding humility, wit, grace and warmth off stage! One of my greatest pleasures in life is having the honor to call this astonishing woman, dear friend! Though she’s far too humble to ever admit, she’s most deserving of every accolade and high praise she so often receives! Congratulations, friend!” --Kenny Davis, House Manager of Barter Theatre

Miles Marek

“Miles’ tireless work to make the Paramount the regional presenting theater showcase has served as an example for all employees and the board. I cannot overstate his value to the theater and his community. Without his efforts, the Paramount would be a far different place. He is ‘a force of nature’ driving our Paramount into the 21st-century.”--Rob Simis, President of the Paramount Foundation Board

“Miles Marek’s knowledge around the theater industry certainly is a force driving downtown development. His deep understanding of how to run a not-for-profit theater is a breath of fresh air for the theater and the region, as it actually helps our surrounding economy thrive! With his keen awareness of what our community asks for, ticket revenue growth of the Paramount Center for the Arts has been over the top!!

Right now, the Paramount Theatre drives downtown and downtown drives Bristol. Several years ago just a couple of restaurants asked for the Paramount’s schedule. Now they all require it as they needed to hire extra help the night of a show. Miles’ experience and expertise has transformed the Paramount to a venue with sold-out shows coming in from a seven-state radius.

My husband said the other day, ‘We have seen some really good shows at the Paramount and it is all because of Miles.’ Thank you Miles!”--Barbara Smith, Board of the Paramount Center for the Arts

“Miles Merek came to the Paramount from New York and Connecticut after running theaters there for many years! He brought to the Paramount expertise we have never had before. He has gotten so many shows for all types and ages. It has gotten so exciting that we never know what show to look forward to. He is so easy to be around. We are so grateful and thankful for such a super leader!”-- Carol Trammel, Board of the Paramount Center for the Arts

“Paramount Bristol is so blessed to have Miles Marek at the helm! The experience and expertise in the industry that he brings to the job as our executive director has been a game changer for filling the schedule, attracting supporters from near and far, and building our financial performance towards a sustainable future. The pandemic was an unfortunate interruption to our momentum, but under Miles’ leadership, we expect to take advantage of this down time to continue improvements to our facilities and emerge even stronger to serve our community for generations to come.” -- Ruth King, Emeritus Member Board of the Paramount Center for the Arts

Brent Treash

“Brent Treash has been an amazing contributor to the Birthplace of Country Music organization (including predecessor organizations) for many years. Brent became a volunteer in 2007 when he started helping to book artists for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival. Since that first year, he has served as the Chair and Co-Chair of the Music Committee, served on the Festival Executive Committee, and in 2017 had the lead role as Festival Chairman. During the past 13 years he has played a major role in the success and growth of the festival. He serves on the Birthplace of Country Music Board of Directors as Board Secretary, and is a member of several board committees. His contributions on various levels have made Brent one of the most valuable members of the team that is leading the Birthplace of Country Music organization to be an economic driver for our community and region.”--Leah Ross, Executive Director, Birthplace of Country Music

“I have known and observed Brent Treash since I joined BCM as Senior Advisor in 2014. Brent has a long history of work with the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival. His knowledge, experience and willingness to work make him invaluable to the festival team. He is major contributor to the success the festival has experienced. As his involvement in BCM has broadened into the overall BCM organization (which includes the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and Radio Bristol as branches along with the Festival) Brent has proven to be a highly intelligent quick learner, a logical thinker, a person with common sense, and a person not afraid to speak his mind. He is observed to be what he is – a person passionate about BCM who is willing devote a portion of his time and talents to making BCM be the best it can be. These characteristics, observed by all BCM Board Members, has motivated the Board Governance Committee to make Brent an officer in line to move up to President-Elect, and then to President of the Board. It is people with Brent’s qualities of leadership that will ensure the success of the BCM organization now and in the future.”-- Keith Liskey, Senior Advisor, Birthplace of Country Music