2017 Champion for the Arts Award


The City of Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission is proud to announce that Tom and Juanita Felton have been selected as recipients of the City's 2017 Champion for the Arts Award.

The idea for the award was generated through the development of the City's first-ever strategic plan for the arts, Virginia Beach Arts Plan 2030, to recognize those community members dedicated to the furtherance of the arts in Virginia Beach. The Commission felt that honoring citizens who go above and beyond to raise awareness for the arts in Virginia Beach was an important first initiative to implement from the Arts Plan 2030. The Commission is thrilled to honor Tom and Juanita with this well-deserved award.

As well-respected philanthropists, arts administrators, board members and educators, Tom and Juanita Felton have been ardent supporters of the arts in Virginia Beach and throughout Hampton Roads for many years. Through their volunteer work in all facets of the arts, especially with the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, they have cultivated and strengthened the cultural life of our region in immeasurable way. "Both Mr. and Mrs. Felton have been great benefactors to the arts in Hampton Roads," said Cultural Affairs Director Emily Labows. "One can see their generosity most notably through their funding to commission nationally-recognized artist Lin Emery to create the large-scale 'Wings' sculpture in front of the Sandler Center. Their legacy will live on through this beautiful gift of art to their community."

"Tom and Juanita Felton are art visionaries and advocates," said past Commission Chair Carolyn Garrett. "They have a long history of public art advocacy - sitting on the first Percent for the Art Selection Process in the 1990s. They have supported the arts not for the praise or recognition – they both shy away from that – but because of a true passion for the arts and making Virginia Beach a better place to live."

Both have served on the Arts Commission for many years and have been leaders in the arts community. Mrs. Felton has served and chaired the Public Art Committee since 2009 and is currently a Board member of the Public Art Virginia Beach Foundation. 

A framed certificate in recognition of their Champion for the Arts Award was presented to Mrs. Juanita Felton at the Virginia Beach City Council meeting on June 6, 2017. Award recipients' names will be etched in brick and displayed in a Champion for the Arts path in front of the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, near the intersection of Commerce and Market streets.

Juanita earned her BVBA in ED – majors, History and Social Science and MST in Sociology through an NSF grant.  She dedicated 40 years to secondary education – US and World History, Sociology, Anthropology, Government, Gifted Education and worked in VBCPS as a Resource Teacher for Gifted and helped establish the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School.  She has presented at state, national, and International Conferences – including: NY, DC, Toronto, Hong Kong, and Beijing.  Juanita was married to Thomas A. Felton, Jr. for 36 years. Her hobbies include gardening, collecting art and Teddy Roosevelt memorabilia, cooking, attending/supporting theatre and traveling.


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