Clarksville, TN – Joe W. Giles, an Austin Peay State University alumnus and founder of the Tennessee Arts Academy, the nation’s flagship professional development program for teachers of the arts, will be honored March 1st with the George Mabry Ovation Award.
The award is one of eight to be given by the Acuff Circle of Excellence in recognition of outstanding contributions in the arts to the Clarksville-Montgomery County community. The annual ceremony will be Sunday, March 1st, from 2:00pm-3:30pm at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. The public is invited to attend the ceremony and a reception that follows.
The Acuff Circle of Excellence, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Austin Peay Foundation, serves as a patron society of the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts. Its purpose is to advance the importance of arts and culture at APSU and in the community.
Those being recognized were chosen from nominations submitted by the public. In addition to Giles, those selected include: Individual Artist, theater director and playwright Billy St. John; Business, Planters Bank; and Community Organization, Downtown Artists’ Co-Op.
In the Young Artists categories, those chosen include Visual Art, Kayleigh Baird, Montgomery Central High School; Theatre, Amy Wyer, West Creek High School; Instrumental Music, Terrell Boykin, Kenwood High School; and Creative Writing, Arizona Hurn, Montgomery Central High School. These young artist winners, who must be seniors, receive preference if they apply for the Acuff Circle endowed scholarship in the arts at APSU.
Giles received his bachelor and master’s music education degrees from APSU and further studied at Middle Tennessee State University, George Peabody College and Fisk University. He taught in the Davidson County schools and was director of choral music at Hillsboro High School. While at Hillsboro, his choirs sang at St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity Parish, in New York City, historic Christ Church in Alexandria, VA and at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In 1980, the choir received the Gold Medal in the International Choral Festival, the only gold medal awarded in the two-day session in which they participated.
For three summers in the 1970s, Giles directed the Sounds of American Youth Chorale, touring seven European countries.
In 1984, he joined the Tennessee Department of Education as director of arts education, overseeing statewide arts education programs in music, visual art, theatre and dance. He led the development of the first statewide curriculum frameworks and guides in K-12 music, visual arts, theatre and creative dramatics. These were subsequently adopted by the State Board of Education use in public and private schools in the state.
Giles has been active in state and national professional arts associations and has led, been the keynote speaker for, or participated in conferences relating to arts education and standards. In 1988, he was recognized for leadership in arts education with the Governor’s Award for Arts in Tennessee.