Arts Missoula Awards return for in-person honors of creators, supporters

Cory Walsh

Arts Missoula held its awards for local creative contributions to the community on Wednesday night, the first time it’s been in person since 2019.

With several hundred people in attendance at the DoubleTree Hotel’s ballroom, the enthusiasm to be back was obvious, with so much applause that emcee and executive director Tom Bensen at one point asked people to wait until he’d finished reading a list of names.

While art talk can sometimes get a little heady, Board President John Calsbeek said that “when we come here to celebrate these awards, we’re celebrating what makes Missoula authentic.”

Besides the honors themselves, Bensen was emceeing his last go-round before his retirement. Heather Adams, the founder of the Downtown Dance Collective and a choreographer/theatrical director, will assume the role.

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Here are the 2022 awards:

Cultural Ambassador for the Arts

John Engen was recognized for his support for the arts as a lifelong Missoula resident and mayor since 2006.

“John truly believes in, supports and champions a strong and vibrant arts scene. He sees the arts and cultural organizations, not just as amenities and things that are nice to have in

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