Lied Center announces 2021–22 IMPACT Award winners

The Lied Center of Kansas presents IMPACT Awards to a local art teacher and a jazz artist who provided free entertainment during pandemic

Derek Kwan recognized Emmet Cohen and Rachel Downs-Doubrava as the 2021–22 IMPACT Award recipients on November 8, 2021. Photo credit: John Clayton

The Lied Center of Kansas has named Rachel Downs-Doubrava, Lawrence Free State High School art teacher, and Emmet Cohen, world-renowned jazz pianist, as the recipients of the 2021–22 season’s IMPACT Awards. Each season, the Lied Center recognizes one USD 497 educator for distinguished service to arts education and one artist or group for distinguished service to the performing arts.

The IMPACT Awards were presented to the two winners on the Lied Center stage at Emmet Cohen’s performance on Monday, November 8, 2021. “Rachel Downs-Doubrava is a natural in the classroom and has supported countless students in the invaluable process of defining their personal identity through arts education. During the isolation of the pandemic, Emmet Cohen was a true pioneer in creating a profound sense of community through jazz that enabled tens of thousands worldwide to feel connected on a weekly basis,” said Derek Kwan, Lied Center executive director.

Downs-Doubrava has a passion for art and teaching, and she has been creating art for as long as she can remember. She has a bachelor’s degree in painting from Wichita State University and a master’s in painting and drawing from New Mexico State University (NMSU). She has taught at NMSU as well as Emporia State University, then attended the University of Kansas, where she received a Master of Education in visual arts. In addition to her commitment and dedication to her students at Free State High School, Downs-Doubrava has made significant contributions as a Lied Center Ambassador to help thousands of students enjoy the power of the performing arts with school-only performances.

Emmet Cohen, jazz pianist and composer, is in the vanguard of his generation’s advancement of music and the related arts. A recognized prodigy, Cohen began Suzuki method piano instruction at age three, and his playing quickly became a mature melding of musicality, technique and concept. While he has earned many accolades as a musician and composer, Cohen is also committed to the intergenerational transfer of the knowledge, history and traditions of jazz. His signature professional undertaking is the “Masters Legacy Series,” which is a celebratory set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians, like Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Tootie Heath and George Coleman. His weekly virtual performances during the pandemic, “Live From Emmet’s Place,” have provided access to free and uplifting entertainment to people all over the globe. Cohen’s contributions to jazz as a traditional and evolving art form have made an indelible impact to the performing arts.

Each year, the Lied Center selects up to five artists or groups from the current season to be considered for the IMPACT Award based upon the criteria of leadership in their field, artistic integrity, commitment to arts education and the creation of new and innovative work. In the fall, current and former Friends of the Lied board members vote for one of the nominees via electronic ballot. The educator is selected with the assistance of USD 497 ambassadors to the Lied Center as well as past IMPACT winners. This selection is based on the teacher’s service to arts education. The honorees are presented their awards on stage at the winning artist’s Lied Center performance. This year’s winners will be added to the list of esteemed recipients, such as Samuel Ramey, Joshua Bell, Black Violin and Wynton Marsalis; and USD 497 educators Peter Gipson, Johannah Cox, Deborah Woodall Routledge, Sara Bonner, Dani Lotton-Barker and Lois Orth-Lopes.

Learn more about the IMPACT Awards and previous award recipients >