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Director of King City dance studio honored for influential work

Monterey County Dance Theatre’s Jan Harkness receives award at Champions of the Arts Gala

Monterey County Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jan Harkness (center) is joined by Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez and Arts Council for Monterey County Board Chair Laurie Bend after receiving her award at the 17th Annual Champions of the Arts Gala at the Monterey Marriott on June 18. (Richard Green Photography)

KING CITY — Jan Harkness, artistic director of Monterey County Dance Theatre in King City, was recently honored at the 17th Annual Champions of the Arts Gala, hosted by the Arts Council for Monterey County.

Harkness, who has been teaching dance for nearly 40 years, and four others from around the county were recognized this year for making an impact in the arts community.

All five honorees received awards at the June 18 fundraising gala, during which South Monterey County students from the dance studio performed for more than 350 guests in attendance at the Monterey Marriott.

South Monterey County students from the Monterey County Dance Theatre perform for more than 350 guests in attendance during the June 18 gala at the Monterey Marriott. (Richard Green Photography)

“In front of me right now are some children and young adults that began their journey and dance at 3-1/2 years old. They’re a little bit older now, and that says it all,” Harkness said about the local dancers present while accepting her award. “Thank you to the Monterey County Arts Council. Thank you for the community that supports art in all of its wonderful forms. Thank you for the parents and the philanthropists who allow it to continue. Thank you for the realization that art is for everyone, that we share it together, and thank you to all the young minds who pick up and want to study dance, music, whatever they want, because art will enrich the lives of themselves and also for all of us.”

Harkness also gave special recognition to her parents, Bob and Pauline Hall. Her mother founded the King City dance studio in 1958 and retired 26 years later, with Harkness taking the helm.

“Out of their love came the love of dance and the realization that I was very special because of the family I was born into and the love that was shown to me, to help me lead my life,” she said.

Monterey County Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jan Harkness accepts her award from the Arts Council for Monterey County at the 17th Annual Champions of the Arts Gala on June 18. (Richard Green Photography)

Other 2022 honorees were: Steven Whyte, internationally acclaimed sculptor in Carmel; Juan Sanchez, founder of Palenke Arts in Seaside; Kati D’Amore, visual artist in North Monterey County and member of the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Association; and Javier Tamayo, executive director of Alisal Center for Fine Arts in Salinas.

This year, Arts Council for Monterey County (Arts4MC) also celebrated its 40th anniversary of providing programs that build capacity for emerging artists and nonprofits as well as empower local youth.

“We are so pleased to be able to celebrate in person this year, as we honor these five amazing individuals who have made a profound impact in the arts, and we recognize our 40 years of promoting the arts in Monterey County,” said Jacquie Atchison, Arts4MC executive director.

The 17th Annual Champions of the Arts award winners are: (from left) Javier Tamayo, Juan Sanchez, Jan Harkness, Kati D’Amore and Steven Whyte. (Richard Green Photography)

All event proceeds support the Arts4MC’s arts education programs, which are now serving more than 30,000 disadvantaged students, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans in the county.

View the entire 2022 Champions of the Arts Gala on the Arts Council for Monterey County’s YouTube page.