As usual, the five recipients of this year's Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University represent a diverse group. Honorees include an art collector, a journalist, an opera composer, an arts advocate and a choreographer.
The medals were awarded during a special ceremony Oct. 19. Proceeds from the event will help fund scholarships for students who pursue careers in the visual arts, dance, music or theater at Winthrop.
The varied backgrounds of each of the five award winners illustrate both the diversity of the world of art and the different creative forces needed to nurture a thriving arts community at Winthrop and throughout South Carolina.
This year's honorees are:
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• The late Mark Coplan, a collector primarily of work by South Carolina artists. Much of his collection, which includes more than 450 pieces, is on exhibition in the State Museum of South Carolina.
• Beryl Dakers, host and producer of weekly art shows and documentaries for South Carolina Educational Television. Dakers is a member of the S.C. Black Hall of Fame and won the Elizabeth O'Neill Varner Governor's Award for the Arts in 2000.
• Carlisle Floyd, one of the foremost composers and librettists of opera in the nation. His operas, including "Susannah" and "Of Mice and Men," are regularly performed throughout the country.
• Betty Plumb, who has been executive director of the S.C. Arts Alliance since 1994. She also is former chairwoman and current council member of the State Arts Action Network and past president of the State Arts Advocacy League of America and the National Community Arts Network.
• Dan Wagoner, who served as head of Dan Wagoner and Dancers for 25 years. The company performed in hundreds of cities and on four continents. When the company disbanded in 1984, Wagoner taught dance at Connecticut College and continues to do choreography for troupes around the world.
All of these honorees have been inspired by art, but also are exemplary because they have gone the extra step to try to instill a love of art in others. We join Winthrop in saluting their many accomplishments, and hope they serve as an inspiration to students to follow in their footsteps.