In a special press conference at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts this morning, four-time Grammy winner Vikki Carr ceremoniously read the names of the Texas Cultural Trust’s newest Texas Medal of Arts award winners — leaders and luminaries who have achieved greatness through their creative talents or by generously supporting art and culture in the state.

Among the 14 honorees are two San Antonio native sons, filmmaker and author John Phillip Santos and CBS Evening News Anchor and news correspondent Scott Pelley.

In addition, the Tobin Endowment of San Antonio will be recognized in the Foundation Patron category.

This is the ninth biennial year for the Texas Cultural Trust’s signature event, the Texas Medal of Arts Awards, the brainchild of Jocelyn Straus who modeled the event after the Kennedy Center Honors to spotlight artistic excellence in Texas. The arts is a $5.5 billion industry in Texas and the source of $334 million in sales tax revenue, according to Jennifer Ransom Rice, executive director of the Trust.

Past Medal of Arts honorees have included Texans like Dan Rather, T Bone Burnett, Chandra Wilson, ZZ Top, Laura Bush, Tommy Lee Jones and Sandra Cisneros as well as Texas organizations like Austin City Limits, Lake Flato Architects and H-E-B.

The first-ever Latino Rhodes Scholar, John Phillip Santos grew up in San Antonio and went to work at the Ford Foundation in New York, and later moved on to a career as an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker at CBS and The Public Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1999, his family memoir, Places Left Unfinished at the Creation of Time,” became a National Book Award finalist. He returned to San Antonio in 2005, and currently serves as a University Distinguished Scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies at UTSA where he completed his most recent novel, “The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire.”

Local author John Phillip Santos speaks at the Latino Collection & Resource Center at the Central Library in October 2015.

Scott Pelley, 59, born in San Antonio and raised in Lubbock, Texas, began his career in journalism at age of 15 as a copy boy for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and later as a reporter in Dallas. He went to work for CBS in New York City in 1989, served as chief White House correspondent during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and in 1999 left to join “60 Minutes II.”

Scott Pelley Credit: Courtesy / CBS

A recipient of numerous honors, including the journalism’s prestigious Edward R. Murrow award and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence, Pelley has anchored the CBS Evening News since 2011.

The Tobin Endowment, created by Robert L.B. Tobin, has donated more than $55 million to various nonprofit organizations and charities. Because Tobin was an avid patron of the arts, much of the funding has gone to arts organizations, including a $15 million naming gift for the Tobin Center for Performing Arts. Local attorney and businessman J. Bruce Bugg Jr. is chairman and trustee of the Tobin Endowment.

The red carpet will roll out for this year’s award winners on Feb. 21-22 at Texas Performing Arts, the University of Texas at Austin.

Peter Holt and Guillermo Nicolas, also from San Antonio, are serving as co-chairs for the event.

Peter Holt is CEO of HOLT CAT, the largest Caterpillar equipment dealership in the U.S., and principal owner of the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. He did not attend the press conference.

Guillermo Nicolas is president of 3N Group, LLC., a commercial real estate company, and former director of Home Shopping Español. He is an avid contemporary art collector and chairman of the San Antonio Arts Commission.

3N Group President and Chairman of the San Antonio Arts Commission Guillermo Nicolas speaks with attendees after the Texas Medal of Arts winners are announced. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

“I really wanted to show off our city,” Nicolas said, explaining why he’s co-chairing the event. “As a developer who has focused on urban areas, I felt San Antonio has really stepped up to the plate and done some wonderful 21st century things like the Tobin, like the additions to River North and Mission Reach. I find it very important to support the many art institutions this city has and I think we don’t appreciate that enough.

“(Medal of Arts honorees) are people who obviously got some wonderful nurturing in our state and went on to do great things,” Nicolas added. “The fact that these awards highlight the success of these people says a lot about our state. We must be doing something right.”

Since its inception in 2001, the biennial Texas Medal of Arts has awarded 99 medals to 105 Texas leaders and luminaries.

2017 Texas Medal of Arts Award Honorees Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Lauren Anderson and Dallas Black Dance Theater Founder Ann M. Williams react to their fellow honorees. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

This year’s Texas Medal of Arts Awards honorees include:

Corporate Patron:  John Paul & Eloise DeJoria, Paul Mitchell/Patrón Tequila, Austin

Multimedia:  Kris Kristofferson, Brownsville

Television: Jaclyn Smith, Houston

Individual Arts Patron:  Lynn Wyatt, Houston

Dance:  Lauren Anderson, Houston

Music:  Yolanda Adams, Houston

Arts Education:  Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas

Film: Janine Turner, Euless

Theatre:  Renée Elise Goldsberry, Houston

Foundation Patron:  The Tobin Endowment, San Antonio

Visual Art:  Leo Villareal, El Paso

Architecture:  Frank Welch, Dallas

Literary Arts:  John Phillip Santos, San Antonio

Journalism:  Scott Pelley, San Antonio

Lifetime Achievement:  Kenny Rogers, Houston

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is a journalist and writer in San Antonio, and a business reporter for The Rivard Report.

Read more