Reston dance company founder and more to be honored by 2024 ArtsFairfax Awards

The 2024 ArtsFairfax Awards will go to the Peterson Family Foundation, philanthropist Anne Kline, the nonprofit We Rock Cancer and Reston’s Gin Dance Company founder Shu-Chen Cuff (courtesy ArtsFairfax)

The winners of the 2024 ArtsFairfax Awards are in.

ArtsFairfax, a nonprofit that serves as Fairfax County’s arts agency, announced this week that it will honor Reston dancer Shu-Chen Cuff, philanthropist Anne R. Kline and two local charities at its annual awards ceremony, which will be held for a fourth straight year at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons.

Scheduled for Oct. 25, the awards recognize “extraordinary contributions” by individuals and groups to the local arts community, while serving as a fundraiser for ArtsFairfax, which provides grants and other resources to artists and arts and culture-related nonprofits.

“The arts in Fairfax are so varied and vibrant that there is truly something for everyone,” said Stuart Holt, who took over as ArtsFairfax’s president and CEO in March. “This year’s ArtsFairfax Awards honorees…all come from different places in the world, reminding us that when we invest in the arts we bring our whole selves to the task. I’m inspired by how each and every one of us can improve the Fairfax community through local arts and culture.”

Jinx Hazel Award

The Jinx Hazel Award will go to the Peterson Family Foundation, the charitable arm of Fairfax-based developer Peterson Companies. Started by company founder Milt Peterson and his wife, Carolyn, in 1997, the foundation has made significant donations to Inova Health System’s Life with Cancer initiative, whose support services include art therapy classes, and George Mason University’s arts and public health colleges.

According to ArtsFairfax, the foundation’s contributions to GMU have included investments in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ opera, performing arts and music programs as well as the Mason Community Arts Academy, which provides classes, workshops and summer classes to area residents and students.

The foundation also supports the university’s Great Performances at Mason series, which brings classical music, dance, theater and opera shows to its Fairfax campus.

The Jinx Hazel Award is considered ArtsFairfax’s top award, recognizing a person or group “whose vision and commitment has helped shape the cultural life of Fairfax County.” Last year’s recipient was the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

Philanthropy Award

Kline will receive this year’s Philanthropy Award, which recognizes donors for their longtime monetary support for the arts. A former banker who now heads the Pohanka Automotive Group’s Pohanka Family Office in Rockville, Maryland, she has served on the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts board since 2015.

Her philanthropic contributions to Wolf Trap include an endowment fund to support staff, artists and programming for Wolf Trap Opera (WTO). She has also funded a career development program and young artist training company for the WTO, and she led a digital fundraiser event for the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of Ms. Kline’s leadership, WTO was poised and ready to offer the first performance in the 50th anniversary season at the Filene Center,” ArtsFairfax said in a press release. “Ms. Kline’s exemplary support, service, and leadership on behalf of the Wolf Trap Foundation was recently recognized with a 2024 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award.”

Achievement Award

Intended for an individual artist who’s made “a lasting contribution” to their discipline or community, the 2024 ArtsFairfax Achievement Award will honor Shu-Chen Cuff, a native Taiwanese dancer who trained in ballet, modern dance and Chinese folk dance and opera.

A University of Florida graduate, Cuff danced with the Miami Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theater, and the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company before founding the Gin Dance Company (GDC) in 2011. Based in Reston Town Center (1818 Library Street, Suite 500), the company focuses on contemporary dance performances that blend Asian and western influences.

Cuff retired as a professional dancer after 27 years with a final performance at Capital One Hall last November, but she still works as GDC’s artistic director and choreographer. She’s also a faculty member at GMU, the BalletNova Center for Dance in Bailey’s Crossroads, the Washington Ballet School in D.C., the Metropolitan School of the Arts in Kingstowne and Skye Ballet Center in Herndon.

“Congratulations to Shu-Chen, for her incredible contributions and commitment as a performer, choreographer, teacher, and mentor!” GDC said in a newsletter announcing the award for its founder. “We are beyond grateful to ArtsFairfax for this very special recognition and their unwavering dedication to the arts!”

Innovation Award

This year’s recipient of the ArtsFairfax Innovation Award, which honors individuals and groups for “nontraditional or inventive approaches” to engaging in the arts, is We Rock Cancer.

Based in McLean (1390 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 900), the nonprofit was founded by Air Force veteran Tim Reed after he was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2018. It provides free cancer screenings at live music events, a service that has expanded to other settings like health fairs and cultural festivals with the acquisition of a portable stage in 2020.

According to ArtsFairfax, We Rock Cancer hopes to expand its outreach over the next three years to kids, young adults and workers in construction, landscaping and other professions that come with regular sun exposure.

“By sharing their innovative offering with the community, We Rock Cancer addresses healthcare access and equity to attain annual skin checks, conduct self-examinations, and obtain skin cancer prevention resources while celebrating live, local music,” ArtsFairfax said.