Saundra Cope and Walt Gillette have dedicated their lives to the arts, supporting organizations that help define Everett’s culture — the Schack Art Center, The Dance School and the Imagine Children’s Museum.
Village Theatre named a building housing its youth education programs in their honor.
“They both share this deep passion for the arts,” said Carol Thomas, the city’s cultural arts manager. “They’re very special people.”
The couple were chosen as this year’s winners of the Richard Wendt Award of Excellence, given each year to a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding support of the arts throughout their lifetime.
A ceremony to formally award both this and the winners of the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards is scheduled for April 15 in Everett. The winners were selected by members of the Everett Cultural Arts Commission.
The Wendt award was named in honor of the Everett orthodontist who played a key role in establishing both the city’s arts commission and the decision in 1974 to dedicate 1 percent of the city’s capital improvement project budget to the purchase and installation of artwork. It was one of the first cities in the nation to do so.
Cope and Gillette met while working at the Boeing Co. and have lived in Snohomish County since 1971.
The couple have been involved in support of the arts since 1999, drawn by the impact it has on the community as a whole. “The arts have an influence far beyond the eye or the ear,” Cope said.
As one example, studies have shown that children do better scholastically when they’re involved in dance, she said.
Their work at Boeing involved traveling to two dozen countries around the world, giving them the opportunity of seeing art museums, going to theaters and getting a global perspective on the arts, Gillette said.
“You begin to realize how important it is to the world and to society,” he said. “One of the things you come to realize is art is nourishment for the soul.”
In addition to the Wendt award, six people were selected for a Mayor’s Arts Awards:
Fred Chu: Organization Making an Impact
Fred Chu is a founding member of the Pacifica Chamber Orchestra, now in its ninth season.
In addition to its concerts, the group has a performance every October in a Everett elementary school.
“That’s one of our goals, to expose those young kids to classical music and encourage them to get to know classical music better,” Chu said.
The arts commission cited the group’s “exceptional chamber music concerts” and educational outreach in Everett’s elementary schools in being chosen for the award.
Tyler Chism and Garret Hunt: Catalyst for Emerging Artists
Tyler Chism and Garret Hunt cofounded the Live in Everett blog in 2015.
“Our intention is to show the good things that happen in Everett and that Everett is a great place to live,” Chism said.
Recent popular stories include one on Everett’s best Christmas lights and another on the downtown restaurant Capers + Olives, Hunt said.
The award was given for promoting Everett’s writers, visual artists, performers and musicians and advancing the cultural life of the city.
Deb Fox: Artist in the Community
Deb Fox may be best known to the public for the creation of a graphic novel on the 100th anniversary of the Everett Massacre, published in 2016. She has lived in the Riverside neighborhood since 2009. She previously lived and worked in Los Angeles and Seattle.
She now is working on a second graphic novel, “The Man Who Beat Death Valley,” set in 1850.
Fox was chosen for the award for “her artistic excellence and contributions to Everett’s cultural vitality.”
Mary Toews: Arts Changing Lives
Mary Toews founded Mari’s Place for the Arts in 2011, a place where kids from age 3 to 17 can learn about the arts.
“We have dancing, theater, oil and watercolor painting, drawing — everything in the arts” she said. And some children learn to play musical instruments.
The organization has grown to serve just over 120 kids, offering classes four or five days a week out of its offices at 2321 Hoyt Ave. in Everett.
“It’s been an overwhelming thing to me,” Toews said of being selected for the award.
“I feel very responsible now to do a better job for the community. With an award, your responsibility grows.”
She was chosen for the award for creating an all-volunteer organization “that fosters creativity and self-confidence through artistic and cultural programs for youth and immigrant families.”
Raniere: Enriching Children’s Lives
Raniere, who goes by one name, is director of Creative Arts and Community Engagement at Everett’s Imagine Children’s Museum, where she has worked for 14 years.
The museum moved into its current space at 1502 Wall St. in October 2004. Raniere joined the organization five months later.
Just in the first months it was open in 2004, it had 140,000 visitors, she said. Now, some 252,000 people come to the museum each year, a place geared to playful learning for kids, she said.
Raniere was selected for the award for her creative work with children at the museum.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
Everett’s 26th annual Wendt and Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, scheduled for Feb. 12, has been rescheduled. The new date for the event is April 15, with doors opening at 6 p.m. at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave. The event is open to the public.