Steve Hoffman honored as Arts Citizen of the Year
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the arts, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts Executive Director Steve Hoffman has been named the 2023 Arts Citizen of the Year. Established in 2004 by the Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County, this award honors those whose artistic commitment has not only marked their careers but helped enrich the entire community.
“[Hoffman’s] natural inclination is to view the arts as tools to enrich and enhance life in our community,” said Mimi Becker, executive director of the Arts Commission. “The Arts Commission is very pleased to recognize him for his many contributions to Danville and Boyle County, not only in his role at the Norton Center but also his engagement in the community.”
The award was presented to Hoffman at the Danville City Commission meeting at City Hall on January 8 and was recognized at the Boyle County Fiscal Court meeting the following morning.
For more than three decades, Hoffman has devoted his career to bringing to life diverse, interdisciplinary arts initiatives, events and seasons. Before coming to Danville, Hoffman led the National Steinbeck Center in California, and served as the founding CEO of the Washington Pavilion in South Dakota, overseeing its science center, visual arts center and performing arts center.
In 2010, he joined Centre College as the Norton Center’s third executive director, overseeing, managing and programming arts experiences for the college and community. His time at Centre has been – and continues to be – marked with a tapestry of achievements and cultural celebrations, including receiving, on behalf of the organization, a 2017 Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts; his involvement with the 2012 U.S. Vice Presidential Debate and Debate Festival; and the curation of multiple art exhibitions, including the recent “We Were Here” exhibit in collaboration with the Danville-Boyle County African American Historical Society.
Hoffman has dedicated himself to enriching the community’s cultural experiences through countless transformative campus and community initiatives. In 2015, he orchestrated the Japanese Winter Plum Festival at the Norton Center and, as a followup to this international collaboration, organized Kentucky Bluegrass Week in Yamaguchi, Japan, fostering meaningful cultural exchanges. Additionally, Hoffman has curated a series of campus and community engagements with professional artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Ben Vereen and more to bring world-class connections to Danville’s doorstep.
Beyond his work at the Norton Center, Hoffman serves as a board member of the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, and as President of the Gladys Project, a group that provides supportive literary services to families with children ages 0-5.
“I am humbled and honored to be this year’s award recipient,” said Hoffman. “As an army brat, I lived in nearly a dozen states and countries before graduating high school. I was constantly figuring out what ‘community’ meant to me and how to find mine. In my role as a cultural ambassador, I try to foster many different types of ‘community’ that bring people together in inviting and inclusive ways that ensure valued personal engagement while also making meaningful community connections.”
For only the second time in the Art Commission’s history, a second special recognition was given, honoring the Norton Center as the 2023 Arts Organization of the Year for its 50-year legacy of delivering world-class entertainment and diverse arts experiences to the community.
“The impact of the Norton Center in the cultural life of our area can be felt beyond the stage,” said Becker. “Collaborative programming, student access and national recognition have benefited many beyond the Centre College campus.”
In honor of Hoffman, the Arts Commission made a financial contribution to the Norton Center’s Arts for the Classroom Ticket Subsidy program (ACTS), which provides free or deeply discounted student matinee tickets and activities to K-12 public schools in Kentucky, ensuring that students have access to arts programs regardless of financial circumstance.