As a major university presenter, the Lied Center of Kansas is proud of its 30-year history of engaging internationally renowned artists and more than 100 years of performing arts presenting at the University of Kansas. In its 21st season (2014-15), the Lied Center inaugurated a recognition program to honor one artist or group per season for distinguished service to the performing arts.

Furthermore, the Lied Center of Kansas has partnered with the Lawrence School District (USD 497) in support of arts education for over 20 years. In celebration of this partnership, the Lied Center will also honor one educator per season for distinguished service to arts education. As we all know, every educator has to be creative in the classroom to truly engage their students. There are some, however, who go far beyond the norm and create a space of imagination, creativity and innovation in their classrooms.


After a season is booked, the Lied Center administration will select up to five artists/groups to be considered for the Lied Center IMPACT Award based upon the criteria below. Each August, all current and former Friends of the Lied board members will vote for one of the nominees via electronic survey. The winning artist will be announced at the Friends of the Lied Annual Dinner in September. The honoree will be presented the award on stage at their Lied Center performance.


Each fall, the Engagement-Education Director will contact members of the Adventures in Imagination Board and the Lied Center School Ambassadors asking them to make note of possible educators for the upcoming year’s award. Early in the spring semester, the Board and Ambassadors will be asked to send in their nomination for the Creative Educator Award. A slate will be created and voted on by the Adventures in Imagination Board and School Ambassadors. The winning educator will be announced at the Friends of the Lied Annual Dinner in September.The honoree will be presented the award on stage, along with the winning artist, just prior to the winning artist’s Lied Center performance.


The artist or group who wins this award has made an indelible impact on the performing arts in the following areas:

Leadership. The artist is celebrated for initiating programs or projects that ensure the future of the arts. Integrity. The artist is committed to the highest artistic standards. Education. The artist is deeply engaged in performing arts education. Discovery. The artist is a trailblazer through the creation of new and innovative work.


The educator who wins this award provides support, encouragement, and inspiration to their students. In addition to providing various arts experiences for their students, this individual is committed to integrating the arts into the classroom curriculum through creative or innovative teaching practices.

IMPACT Award Recipients

USD 497 Educators

2023-24: Melissa Smith

2022-23: Lysette DeBoard

2021-22: Rachel Downs-Doubrava

2019-20: Peter Gipson

2018-19: Johannah Cox

2017-18: Deborah Woodall Routledge

2016-17: Sara Bonner

2015-16: Dani Lotton-Barker

2014-15: Lois Orth-Lopes



2023-24: Terence Blanchard

2022-23: Dancing Wheels Company

2021-22: Emmet Cohen

2019-20: Samuel Ramey

2018-19: Joshua Bell

2017-18: Black Violin

2016-17: Imani Winds

2015-16: Branford Marsalis

2014-15: Wynton Marsalis