The St. Johns Cultural Council recently recognized local women who have profoundly influenced the cultural environment of St. Johns County with the Dr. Gail Pflaster ROWITA (Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts) Awards.
The event on March 26 was the first public function at The Waterworks historic building and venue since the Cultural Council took occupancy following restoration of the structure by the City of St. Augustine. The circa 1898 building served as a pumping station for the city's waterworks system and then a community center and was vacant since 2005.
According to Christina Parrish Stone, the Cultural Council’s executive director, the significance of the renowned building on the National Register of Historic Places was reflected in the awards event, which honored past and current art professionals along with high school musicians, award recipients, attendees and more.
“History was made at this year’s ROWITA awards with a packed house of 150 people who have supported the arts in St. Augustine for generations,” said Parrish Stone. “The women who have made significant contributions to the arts in St. Johns County shared their presentations on the theater stage about their work, leadership and philanthropic support.”
Additionally, the Guitar Consort from St. Augustine High School Center for Arts performed for guests as part of the group’s performance requirements for classwork.
This year, three local women were named as ROWITA recipients and received awards, custom ceramics, and floral bouquets plus speaking opportunities. They were Donna Guzzo, executive director and CEO of First Coast Cultural Council, arts philanthropist, women’s professional empowerment leader and mentor; Teresa Radzinski, trustee for the Lightner Museum, philanthropist and supporter of the arts and renowned museums, and managing director with Bank of America; and Jane Sims, Tale Tellers of St. Augustine founding member and professional storyteller, educator and fine-arts promoter.
2020 ROWITA honorees were also recognized, including St. Johns County arts professionals Roxanne Horvath, a preservation architect and artist, arts advocate and member of the City of St. Augustine City Commission; Dr. Leslee Keys, assistant professor of humanities, director of historic preservation at Flagler College and a leader in the conservation of historical and architectural resources; Carole Prior, an award-winning drama instructor, Teacher of the Year, artist, writer and director; Leslie Robison, a Kenan Distinguished Associated Professor of Liberal Education in Art at Flagler College, arts advocate, and artist; and Karla Wagner, film aficionado.
The March 26 event also featured this year’s Junior ROWITA scholarship recipient Britta Strevig who attends Creekside High School in the visual arts program.
“This year’s nominees have all positively impacted the cultural community,” said Parrish Stone. “Our pride in showcasing the formal public event in an elegant setting exemplified the venue in its finest days. Since serving as a key utility with land provided by Henry Flagler and a recent Florida Division of Historical Resources Special Category Grant, we are honored to continue the building’s tradition as a destination for St. Johns County residents and visitors,” she said. “We’re now officially open to house our organization and to provide a venue for local performing, visual and literary arts and other community organizations.”
The Waterworks is located at 184 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine. For more information about the Cultural Council, call 904-434-0959 or go to stjohnsculture.com.
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