Arts advocate Joanie Flatt named Shelley Award honoree

Arts advocate, philanthropist and longtime communications expert in the Valley Joanie Flatt has been named the 2019 Shelley Award honoree.

Joanie Flatt (Submitted photo)

She will receive the award at the 38th annual Governor’s Arts Awards dinner and celebration March 7 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown, 101 N. First St., according to a press release.

The award, named in honor of former Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Director Shelley Cohn, is presented to an individual who has advanced the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona. The Shelley Award has been presented since 2005.

“Joanie’s reputation for commitment, love and passion for the arts is iconic in our community,” Catherine “Rusty” Foley, executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, said in a prepared statement.

“Her contributions have been pivotal to the advancement of many arts and culture organizations and their ability to reach and touch audiences and the community at large.”

A lifelong Arizona resident now living in Scottsdale, Ms. Flatt has earned a strong reputation as a public relations representative for local, national and international businesses.

At the same time, her achievements on behalf of the arts have been many. She was the campaign manager for the successful Mesa Quality of Life tax campaign in 1998, which provided the majority of the funds to build the Mesa Arts Center.

She also was the founding chair of the Mesa Arts and Entertainment Alliance, which raised $6 million in private funds to complete two smaller theaters in the Center, and the first chairperson of the Mesa Arts Center Foundation board.

Later, Ms. Flatt served as a campaign consultant to the City of Tempe’s initial tax campaign to support the construction of the Tempe Center for the Arts.

She has been a member of the Childsplay board of directors for more than 20 years, having served as chairperson of the board and leading one of the organization’s two capital campaigns.

She also is in her fifth term on the Arizona Theatre Company board of trustees, and is a former member of the Theatre Communications Group’s National Council for Theatre.

Over nearly 30 years, she’s also reached more than 150,000 east Valley third graders with her performances for the Symphony of the Southwest (formerly known as the Mesa Symphony) as the narrator of “Peter and the Wolf.”

As a community leader she is a member of the Children’s Action Alliance, and past chair of the East Valley Partnership, a release states.

She’s also earned a variety accolades.

Among them, she was named one of two Leading Women of the Community by the Mahnah Club of Mesa in 2009, received the Kerry Dunne Sustaining Leadership Award from the East Valley Partnership in 2006, and was named Mesa Woman of the Year in 2000 and Mesa’s Outstanding Young Woman of the Year in 1989.

Professionally, Ms. Flatt was also the first Community Relations Director for Mesa Public Schools, serving from 1972-81 when she started her own public relations firm.

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Governor. Since 1981, more than 200 distinguished artists, individuals, arts and cultural organizations, educators and businesses have received Governor’s Arts Awards.

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