Bee an Arts Champion


2016 Winner, Gary Nicholson

The Bee an Arts Champion Award, presented by the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, honors the legacy of Bee Vradenburg by recognizing individuals who have demonstrated sustained, passionate and innovative leadership toward advancing the arts in the Pikes Peak region. The award includes a $1,000 donation to an organization of the recipient’s choice.

It takes more than waving a baton to bring together musicians, artists, and students but Gary Nicholson makes it look easy. Gary co-founded the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association in 1980 and has served the organization as music director since its inception. In the past thirty six years, Gary has mentored and motivated thousands upon thousands of young musicians in the Pikes Peak region, many of whom have gone on to study at the nation’s most prestigious conservatories and perform in the world’s best orchestras. Youth Symphony alumni have also gone on to become entrepreneurs, scientists, lawyers and doctors. This is what sets Gary apart. At his core, Gary understand that art and art education is about more than simply mastering an instrument; it is about becoming a better, more curious, more creative, and more productive member of society. Gary generously chose to direct the $1,000 donation to the Youth Symphony Scholarship Fund.

Past Winners

  • 2015

    Jan Martin

  • 2014

    Lawrence Leighton Smith
    Daisy McGowan

  • 2013

    Ed and Mary Osborne

  • 2012

    Steve Wood

  • 2011

    Jan Johnson

  • 2010

    Jim Jackson
    Birgitta De Pree

  • 2009

    Thomas Wilson

  • 2008

    David Siegel

  • 2007

    Matt Mayberry

  • 2006

    Henry Tippie