The Viola Awards are Flagstaff’s Oscars for the arts and sciences community. Celebrating excellence in the arts and sciences, the Viola Awards recognize artists, educators, organizations and leaders who make positive contributions to the arts and sciences in Flagstaff. Over 500 people attend the gala event to celebrate and support these amazing folks.
Nominations are sent to Flagstaff Arts Council by the community at large; anyone can nominate an artist, leader, organization, business or event for an award in one of eleven categories. From this pool of nominees, a Panel of past Viola Award winners and experts in the field select nominees in each category to be the Official Viola Award Nominees. The Panel then meets to determine the winner in each category. The Viola Award winners are announced each year at the Viola Awards Gala Event.
The Viola Awards are named after Viola Babbitt (pictured), a long time advocate of the arts and painter. Viola was born in the Arizona territory in 1894. She taught music and reading before settling into a big house on Leroux Street in Flagstaff. She raised six children with her husband, Joseph. In the 1950’s, she started painting and later, established the Art Barn as Flagstaff’s first community arts center. She lobbied Coconino County to build a better facility for a community arts center: the Coconino Center for the Arts. Viola died in 1994, just shortly after her 100th birthday.
The Viola Awards began in 2009 as a way to bring together and celebrate the arts in Flagstaff. The full archive of past nominees, winners, and photos of each Gala event from Viola Award history is available on our website.