ArtsBuild Announces Recipients of 2018 Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award

Alice L. Smith and Booker T. Scruggs II will be honored during the 2018 Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award presentation on Tuesday, March 13. ArtsBuild will host the event at the Hunter Museum of American Art from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

Alice Smith is an active arts advocate and community volunteer. She has had a great impact on the arts in Chattanooga, and especially the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. Her board service in the 1980s and 90s culminated in leading a capital campaign which funded the theatre’s multi-million expansion and renovation. The project included a new scene shop, costume room and dressing room, plus additional offices and education space, allowing the Theatre Centre to broaden its programs. Mrs. Smith appeared in numerous shows on stage as well, acting in performances including Noises Off, Lettice and Lovage and Doubt.

Mrs. Smith has made significant impact beyond the theater as well, having served on the city’s Public Art Committee and as a board member of the Lyndhurst Foundation and ArtsBuild. Always a supporter of arts initiatives in and around Chattanooga, Mrs. Smith has continued her support of the arts through her family’s Footprint Foundation. She and her husband Alfred also support many other arts organizations, including the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and the Southern Lit Alliance.

James O. Kennedy, Board President of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, nominated Mrs. Smith for the award. “Arts advocacy takes many forms. Just about all of them can be found in Alice Smith. Patron, poet, actress, board member, funder, and fundraiser, she has worn all these hats with distinction,” says Mr. Kennedy.

ArtsBuild will also present a special posthumous award this year to honor the late Booker T. Scruggs.

Scruggs was a well-known educator, musician, philanthropist, and arts advocate in Chattanooga. A native of Chattanooga, he graduated from Howard High School and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clark College in Atlanta. Scruggs was the director of the Upward Bound program at UT Chattanooga for 36 years and an adjunct sociology professor at UTC.
Scruggs also had a career as a jazz musician and played in the Chattanooga Clarinet Choir, the Chattanooga Gospel Choir, the Spectrum Jazz Band, and the Maxtiam Trio. Through sales of his CDs, he raised more than $10,000 for student scholarships. Mr. Scruggs was also very active in community organizations such as the NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and served as a board member and volunteer for the Southern Lit Alliance. Additionally, he produced and hosted a long-running television program called “Point of View” which addressed topics ranging from the arts to education and other community issues.

Booker Scruggs was an active participant, advocate and supporter of all arts and culture in Chattanooga. Scruggs passed away in June 2017.

“Both Alice Smith and Booker Scruggs have demonstrated exceptional leadership and have made lasting contributions in our community,” says ArtsBuild President Dan Bowers. “ArtsBuild is thrilled to be able to honor these two outstanding leaders in the arts with this award.”

ArtsBuild established this annual award in 2014 as the Arts Leadership Award to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the arts in Chattanooga and is actively engaged in the cultural life of our community. The first award recognized Ruth Holmberg for her extraordinary support of the arts and cultural community in Chattanooga over the past 70 years. The award has borne Mrs. Holmberg’s name since that first year.

The 2018 Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award is sponsored by First Tennessee Bank. Tickets for the event will be available beginning in mid-January. #RuthAward2018