Martinsville Speedway and George W. Lester, II recognized for support of the arts

Recipients of the Clyde Hooker Award, Martinsville Speedway, accepted by track President Clay Campbell (left) and George W. Lester II, founder and owner of Lester Group (right) with Heidi Pinkston, executive director of Piedmont Arts.

Piedmont Arts held its 17th annual Clyde Hooker Awards ceremony on July 13, 2019 at the museum.
Established in 2003 by the Piedmont Arts Board of Directors, the Clyde Hooker Award recognizes businesses and individuals that are involved in and support Piedmont Arts and other arts and cultural organizations in Martinsville-Henry County. The award is named in honor of J. Clyde Hooker, Jr. for his support of the arts.

This year’s award ceremony honored Martinsville Speedway and George W. Lester, II, two influential centerpieces of the community and leaders in promoting the arts in Martinsville and Henry County.

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell

Martinsville Speedway opened in 1947 and has been a linchpin of the community ever since. In addition to being the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit and bringing in flocks of tourists to the area year-after-year, the Speedway also takes great interest in the arts and arts education in the region. For 13 years, the Speedway was a major sponsor of Minds In Motion, a well-loved in-school dance and movement program presented by Piedmont Arts. The Speedway also provides students a greater platform to share their artistic abilities by inviting local marching bands to perform at NASCAR races, all while supporting local arts education initiatives and providing free uniforms for area band programs. A valuable asset to the community, Martinsville Speedway keeps visitors coming back to Martinsville and Henry County and provides a place where the community can come together as one.

Founder and owner of Lester Group, George W. Lester, II

George W. Lester, II has always been a major supporter of arts and culture in his hometown of Martinsville. He advocates for Piedmont Arts and encourages newcomers and longtime residents to visit and support the museum. Always the first to purchase season tickets to Piedmont Arts events, Mr. Lester also sponsored a sculpture in the museum's Gravely-Lester Art Garden, in honor of his wife Lee. Mr. Lester’s impact on the community is also evident in his support of programs like Scouting. He has helped many Eagle Scout candidates by donating supplies for their Eagle Scout projects, the intent of which is to build a better community. Though Mr. Lester’s support of art initiatives may fly under the radar, his love of the arts and support of Piedmont Arts and other local organizations has a  lasting impact on Martinsville and Henry County.

Becki Williams Vasquez with Piedmont Arts scholarship recipients Caitlyn Kidd, Anna Hatchett and Breanna Ferguson

(L-R): Arts in Education Award recipient Meritha Rucker (left) with Becki Williams Vasquez, Piedmont Arts education coordinator; Arts in Education Award recipient Brian Joyce (center) with Heidi Pinkston and Becki Williams Vasquez.

In addition to the recipients of the Clyde Hooker Awards, Piedmont Arts also recognized Arts in Education Award recipients Meritha Rucker, art teacher at Laurel Park Middle School, and Brian Joyce, band director at Martinsville High School; as well as Nicodemus Hufford Memorial Arts Scholarship recipient, Anna Hatchett; and Harold Knowlton Work Memorial Scholarship recipients, Breanna Ferguson and Caitlyn Kidd. 


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