Winthrop to honor 5 for supporting arts

Five people will be given Winthrop University's highest award for the arts Friday at the sixth annual Medal of Honor in the Arts ceremony.

This year's ceremony will recognize an art collector, a journalist, an opera composer, an arts advocate and a choreographer.

The awards are given to those who have encouraged the arts and offered inspiration to others. The university president selects all of the recipients.

"This will be a magical evening to recognize our awardees and to provide much needed financial help for our students through scholarship support," Elizabeth Patenaude, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said in a news release.

Proceeds from the event will go toward scholarships in visual and performing arts.

Here's a look at the recipients:

Mark Coplan

Known for his private collection and promotion South Carolinians' art. Coplan was a lawyer and real estate developer who restored many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. He is said to have changed the way South Carolina residents look at art and architecture. Coplan owned more than 450 works of art when he died, much of which is now on exhibition in the State Museum of South Carolina.

Beryl Dakers

Known for hosting and producing weekly art shows and serving as a producer, writer and director for documentaries. Dakers has been director of cultural programming at South Carolina Educational Television since 1982. She works as host of "ETV Forum" and "ETV Roadshow" and does on-air work for fundraising. Dakers won a National Association of Black Journalists award for best documentary for "Sylvia Story" and was nominated for an Emmy for the documentary and two other works. Dakers is a member of the S.C. Black Hall of Fame and won the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts in 2000.

Carlisle Floyd

Known for being one of the foremost composers and librettists of opera in the United States. Floyd's operas -- including "Susannah" and "Of Mice and Men" -- are regularly performed in the United States and in Europe. He taught at Florida State University from 1947 until 1976, when he accepted the prestigious M.D. Anderson Professorship at the University of Houston. Floyd is co-founder of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. President Bush awarded Floyd the National Medal of Arts in 2004.

Betty Plumb

Known for advocating for the arts in South Carolina. Plumb has been executive director of the S.C. Arts Alliance since 1994. The alliance serves the arts through advocacy, technical assistance and leadership development. Plumb is a former chairwoman and current council member of the State Arts Action Network, a programmatic council of the Americans for the Arts, and past president of the State Arts Advocacy League of America and the National Community Arts Network. Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, presented Plumb its 2007 Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award in June.

Dan Wagoner

Known for his 25-year career as head of Dan Wagoner and Dancers, which has performed in hundreds of cities and on four continents. Wagoner danced with Martha Graham's company before eventually forming his own group in 1969 to pursue his emerging choreographic vision. The S.C. Arts Commission picked the company to have a second home in South Carolina for four years starting in 1984. The company disbanded in 1994, and Wagoner started teaching dance at Connecticut College a year later. He continues to do choreography for companies around the world, including recent commissions by the Chinese International Dance Festival.

-- Jessica Schonberg