Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year Awar

Nominations for Artist of the Year are being accepted through Sept. 14, 2018. 

Background - Over the last 33 years, the County of Santa Cruz Arts Commission has selected outstanding artists nominated by the public and honored them through the Artist of the Year Award.  The award recognizes artists for outstanding achievement in the disciplines of performing, visual, or literary arts.   Previous Artists of the Year include: Tandy Beal, Lou Harrison, James Houston, George Barati, Charles Hilger, William Everson, Doug McClellan, Jack Zajac, Linda Burman-Hall, Adrienne Rich, Frans Lanting, Paul Whitworth, Lynda Watson, Morton Marcus, Carol Summers, Jessica Williams, Karen Thuesen Massaro, Monica Parker, Laurie King, Richard Deutsch, Manuel Santana, Robert Kelley, Phil Collins, Susana Arias, John Babcock, Geoffrey Dunn, Shmuel Thaler, Shelley Phillips, and Cheryl Anderson. Nominees must meet the criteria established by the Commission: 

  • Must be nominated by a resident of Santa Cruz County
  • Artist must reside in Santa Cruz County
  • Artist must have a national or international reputation/standing
  • Artist must have contributed to the cultural enrichment of the local community
  • Artist must have created or presented work in Santa Cruz County.

People seeking more information or who wish to nominate someone for Artist of the Year, please click HERE, or call Santa Cruz County Department of Parks at (831) 454-7901 to request a form by mail or fax. Nominated artists will be contacted by Parks staff regarding application details. The Artist of the Year program is sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission and the County of Santa Cruz Department Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services.

2018 Artist of the Year - Cheryl Anderson:
Cheryl is in her 26th year as Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Cabrillo College. During her 26 years as Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Cabrillo College Cheryl has taught a variety of music, as well as serving as Conductor of  Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, Cantiamo!, Cabrillo Chorale, and Cabrillo Opera, which she founded.  She is also Founder/Artistic Director of  the Cabrillo Youth Choir Project.  The various choirs under Cheryl’s direction have sung concert tours all over the world, including the Vatican in Italy, Carnegie Hall in New York. Cheryl has been a professional soloist and chorister her entire career and conducted professionally both choirs and orchestras throughout the world.  She has received numerous awards and among her most cherished are Gail Rich Award, 2008, and Cabrillo Board of Trustees “Cheryl Anderson Day – December 5, 2016.”   

2017 Artist of the Year - Shelley Phillips:
Shelley Phillips has played with many professional folk musicians in America, Ireland, and the UK. Her solo albums with Gourd Music include The Fairie Round, Pavane, The Butterfly, and most recently, The Wood Between The Worlds. Shelley is director of the Community Music School of Santa Cruz, where she runs Celtic music camps for children and teens, maintains a private studio, and presents concerts and workshops with visiting musicians of the highest caliber. Shelley serves as a board member of the Music of Bhutan Research Center, the American Pipers’ Guild, and Boxwood Flute Festivals. Here are some photos from the event.

2016 Artist of the Year - Shmuel Thaler:
Check out the  Santa Cruz Sentinel article about Shmuel, by Wallace Baine:
Shmuel Thaler's "Profile Performance - A wonderful time was had by all at the Museum of Art and History on May 27, where a crowd of over 250 joined Shmuel for his Profile Performance. In conversation with Wallace Baine, Shmuel talked about his "Photo of the Day" project while previous Photo of the Day images were projected. If you didn't have the chance to attend, here are some photos and a couple of short videos from the event.

Nominations for Artist of the Year


Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services
979 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
General Information (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Phone: (831)