COLUMBIA — The power of a city's image can't be underestimated, Mayor Bob McDavid said Tuesday during a news conference announcing the opening of nominations for the 2011 Columbia Image Awards.
“If you don’t focus on image, you cannot focus on substance,” McDavid said.
Award winners for 2009:
Inspiration Award: "Cypher." This award is given for the unique use of art or media other than landscaping.
Phoenix Award: Orr Street Studios. This award is given for exceptional adaptive reuse of an existing building.
Development of Distinction Award: The Village of Cherry Hill and The Broadway Shops. This award is presented for to outstanding commercial developments.
Historic Preservation Award: Atkins Warehouse Offices. This award is presented for excellence in restoration of a historic business property.
Ray Rothenberg Award: Shelter Gardens. This award is given for outstanding landscape design.
Striking Structure Award: Columbia Public Library. This award recognizes outstanding exterior architectural design and interior impression.
The Image Awards, which are given every two years, are intended to “recognize businesses and institutional leaders whose vision, imagination and dedication have resulted in creating and enhancing places and spaces that provide a positive and lasting perception of our city.”
Mary Kroening, president of the Columbia Image Awards Board of Directors, said that there is a need to encourage businesses and landscapers to do what they can to make Columbia beautiful. She said that's been happening in downtown Columbia, which is coming alive as the arts establish more of a presence.
Fred Parry, publisher of Inside Columbia and a sponsor of the awards, said nominees should be members of the community who take risks and make sacrifices to make the city look better, even when it costs a lot of money.
Midway USA President Matt Fleming attended the news conference and cited the Orr Street Studio, winner of the 2009 Phoenix Award, as a perfect example of an effort that projects a positive image of the city. He said it is a beautiful place where everyone should be proud to live and work.
“You can tell a lot of values of the community by their aesthetics,” Fleming said.
The Columbia Image Awards Committee was established in 2006 and was the brainchild of Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kroening said there is no similar program in the country.
The awards committee will accept nominations for the 2011 awards through Jan. 26, and a recognition banquet is scheduled for Nov. 10, 2011. The Columbia Image Awards website contains more information on the application process and how to become involved.