Omaha’s Red Carpet, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards

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March 7th, 2017

Omaha, NE—The red carpet was rolled out in Omaha Feb. 19 with the Eleventh Annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, an event honoring local artists of all styles, genres, and ages. Musicians, performing artists, and visual artists gathered at the Omaha Design Center for a night of both celebration and collaboration.

Melinda Kozel, chair of visual arts for OEAA, explained the Awards’ goal.

“Our organization is really about celebrating all that Omaha has to offer in arts and entertainment,” she said, “so not only visual arts but performance, comedy, spoken word, and music as well. And we really want to show that there’s an incredible amount of talent in our community, and we want to really uplift and support those artists. And keep them here and working.”

Keeping in line with the theme, the Awards featured live music, but also theatre and an impromptu visual art demonstration. Actress, Mary Kelly, and Cellist, Hannah Mayer, performed a scene from, “The Feast,” which played at the Shelterbelt Theatre last year. Not your typical performance, Luke Armstrong and Molly Nicklin extemporaneously painted canvases together in the entrance hall.

Kozel said that she’s “continually surprised by what people are creating—that we have new artists emerging every year and we have people who have been mainstays in here Omaha for so long. And that the work that they produce is really diverse and interesting and can be enjoyed by so many different types of people. There’s not one type of art here—there’s not one type of audience for art here, and that’s what’s really been exciting.

With the crowd, the costumes, and the energy of the evening, it was impossible not to conjure up the great awards ceremonies only experienced through TV screens—the Grammy’s, the Oscars, the Tonys. The event might not have been on the same scale, but it no doubt fostered enthusiasm in its attendees and reflected the growth Omaha’s artistic community over the last decade.

Dominique Morgan, music artist, nominee, and vice president of OEAA, explained how the awards have changed over the years.

“I joined the board two years ago,” he said “and I had been a nominee for about three years prior. And it was important that we started bringing in women, people of color, folks from other non-popular genres to perform and present.”

The underlying sentiment of the night was not just pride in individual artists, but Omaha’s growing arts community as a whole.

Hugo Zamarano, muralist and winner of two awards that night, gave his impression of the event.

“I feel like sometimes it’s cool to get recognized, but the awards are really nothing without actual recognition from people in the communities that were involved, whether it’s the music community or the art community,” he explained. “I think that’s a lot more important to know that you’re involved and to actually do things that help other people and not just yourself. That’s the best thing about.”

At the close of the ceremony, Morgan spoke about the future of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

“Hope for the future is that we are able to have bigger performances,” he stated. “We had some amazing stuff tonight—but just to grow. And I think also to get the larger community to know that this is a public event and for them to come and see all the work that the arts community does throughout the year.

Those interested in participating in the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards can visit OEA-awards.org for more information on nominating and voting for their favorite artists.

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