Arts United announces the recipients of the 2023 Arts United Awards in celebration of the outstanding people, organizations, and projects who are making significant contributions to communities in Northeast Indiana through arts and culture. The awards were presented on March 1, featuring four Arts United Awards, the Margaret Ann Keegan Award for Arts Education, two Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the Mayor’s Arts Award.

The 2023 Arts United Award recipients are:

Amy Ford

Wabash County resident Amy Ford is an extraordinary community leader, volunteer, arts and culture advocate, and philanthropist within the Wabash community and the Northeast Indiana region. Amy is the co-owner of Borders & Beyond Gallery located in the heart of the Wabash Cultural District, President of the Wabash River Trail, Director of the Wabash Valley Dance Theater Board, Managing Member of the Kentner Creek housing development, Volunteer Leader for the Dam 2 Dam annual cycling event, and serves on the Board of Directors for Downtown Wabash, Inc.

Janice Furtner

Janice has had an extensive 32-year career in Public Radio, first with WNED out of Buffalo, NY, and later as the Music Director of Fort Wayne’s own WBOI, hosting and producing numerous daily and weekly programs. Janice also is a paper-cutting artist, combining a love of nature, music, and poetry with her pieces. She is a long-time board member of FAME, their Fine Arts Camp director, and a visiting artist teaching paper-cutting in area schools. Janice is also a narrator, singer, and audio producer.

Delois McKinley-Eldridge

Delois “Dee” McKinley is a long-time educator, artist, leader, lobbyist, and lover of all upright things. She is an outstanding citizen and community member. She hosts her own show, Gospel Flight weekly, and celebrates 50-plus years on the radio. Dee is a light to others and an avid volunteer and committed civil servant. She is a Case Manager at Fort Wayne Community Schools. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and continues today to support efforts that enlighten our community.

Spongebob The Musical

For their 2022-2023 season, Fort Wayne Civic Theatre undertook a special project with Spongebob: The Musical. This show highlights the need for acceptance, community, and shared accountability to others and the world around us. Civic Theatre produced 8 public performances of the show in July 2022: 6 to the general public, 1 free performance for their Project Lights Up Program serving the autism community, and 1 free performance for their In The Wings Program, which serves at-risk youth and adults through local schools and social service agencies. The project also featured initiatives to broaden, engage, and celebrate diverse minority groups from our community in the production and a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion.

Derek Reeves (Margaret Ann Keegan Award)

Derek Reeves has been the Principal Violist of Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Violist of the Freimann String Quartet since 2003. As an innovator of education, Derek has had a profound impact on how music is taught in this community, demonstrating the ability to connect with students of all levels to help them attain higher degrees of proficiency. He is an adjunct professor of viola at Purdue University Fort Wayne and the originator of an El Sistema-based string education program in Fort Wayne called Club O.

Madelane Elston (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Madelane Elston has devoted her life to the arts and historic preservation as a community volunteer. Madelane currently serves as Courthouse Preservation Trust president, board member for the Fort Wayne Park Foundation, on the gala committee for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and has served on and chaired numerous other boards for other organizations. She has relocated historic homes, led capital campaigns for the arts, and established funds for parks, preservation, and fine arts programs.

Adrian Mann (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Adrian Mann has served the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Fort Wayne community with his extraordinary musical talents for decades with incredible talent, grace, and a dedicated work ethic. As the Principal Bassist with his own endowed chair in the orchestra, Adrian has served the Philharmonic for 50 years in many ways and in many roles.

Michael Johnson (Mayor’s Arts Award)

As his persona DJ PupLuv, Michael Johnson brings to life his love of music through songwriting and music production. At his Concept Seven Art Lounge on Bluffton Road in Fort Wayne, Johnson illustrates his soulful view of the world through a variety of art platforms. While Johnson’s artistic journey led him to Atlanta where he continued to develop his craft, he has chosen to call Fort Wayne home, returning to the city over a decade ago to pursue his passion for art while also being close to his family. Most recently, Michael produced a “Faces of the Fort” mural that depicts local activists Ephraim Scott Smiley III and Omalwé Kétu Oladuwa.