Dignazio, Selchen win state arts awards


October 30, 2013
NORTH COUNTRY — Two leaders in the region's cultural life are receiving awards from the state. Stephen Dignazio, Executive Director of the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem, will be recognized for his community impact. Frumie Selchen, who leads the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, is also being honored with a Governor's Arts Award from the State Arts Council.

The Colonial Theatre provides movies, concerts, and other community events from Bethlehem's Main Street. The theatre began its artistic service to the region in 1915.

Dignazio's devotion to the arts led the Council to create a new award category this year. Along with fellow winner Peter Ramsey, of Manchester's Palace Theater, Dignazio has "developed arts organizations that are economic drivers in their communities," according to the Council.

The Colonial, the Council added, is "a hub for theater arts in the North Country." Additionally, the state concluded that the theatre has grown, under Dignazio's leadership, into "a major cultural institution for the North Country."

Many entities use the theatre for events. As the Council concluded, the Colonial is a "partner with local schools, public libraries and nonprofit organizations ranging from health and social service providers to economic development advocates."

Selchen is a recipient of the Distinguished Arts Leadership Award. AANNH works to expand arts education, promote cultural tourism in the North Country, and inspire creativity through networking.

Cynthia Robinson, a member of the AANNH board of directors, said Selechen was very worthy of state recognition. "This is an award that has been a long time coming for her," Robinson said on Monday.

Robinson referred to Selchen as "a bundler of ideas and people" and "a master at networking." Selchen connects people in North Country, and also promotes the region across the state. Selchen has great skill in "pulling together people and bringing the best out of everyone," Robinson concluded.

A favorite event of Robinson's is the AANNH "Bring Your Own" event. This allows people to share their artistic work with attendees of the Alliance's annual meeting. Such gatherings show, Robinson said, how Selchen is "great at encouraging the emerging artist."

Dignazio, Selchen and other state winners will receive the awards on November 6 at the NH Institute for Art, located in Manchester. The Council is a part of the NH Department of Cultural Resources. To learn more, go to: http://www.nh.gov/nharts/.

For more information about the Colonial and AANNH, go to: www.bethlehemcolonial.org and www.aannh.org.

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