At the February 1, 1990 BCPAC board meeting, the Special Projects committee recommended to give an award for an individual or organization who supports the arts in the community. The board approved the idea and hence, the Bravo! Award was born. The Bravo! Award name retired in 2000 and was changed to the name the Jackie Award. This name was given in recognition of Bradford Native and World Renowned Opera Singer, Marilyn Horne "Jackie", and was awarded to her when she came to town in the spring of 2000.
Bradford Creative and Performing Arts is pleased to recognize Nanci K. Garris as the recipient of the 2022 Jackie Award, the Marilyn Horne Award for Excellence in Creative and Performing Arts.
Garris was born and raised in the Bradford area and has lived in Bradford, Kane and Virginia Beach, VA. Married to H. David Garris for 50 years, she has three children: Jeremy and his wife Danielle from Erie; Jake and his wife Josie from Pittsburgh with their children, Zack and Tessa; and Rebekah and her husband Patrick who have two daughters, Felicity and Lorelai.
A teacher at The Learning Center in Bradford, Nanci received her Montessori teaching degree from London Montessori. After helping to start TLC in 1984, she lived and taught in Virginia Beach for five years before returning to Bradford in 1990, where she was fortunate enough to be able to return to TLC and will soon be retiring after nearly 40 years.
Pictured left to right: Lori Huber, BCPAC Treasurer; Darren Litz, Excutive Director; Nanci K. Garris and Fred Feightner, BCPAC President
Her support of the arts, particularly theater, in the Bradford community is longstanding. While she has faithfully supported a variety of arts organizations financially, including BCPAC, her true passion has been demonstrated with theater and youth shows through her personal involvement in Bradford Little Theatre, Kiwanis Kapers and the productions at Bradford Area High School. Garris shares in a previous news article in the Era “My favorite avocation is theater”, referencing her active roles in the various organizations. For the past several years, Nanci has helped BAHS instructor Andrew R. Dutko in mounting the annual musical production there. Starting in the 1990s, she regularly performed in Kapers, and in 2019, co-directed the Kapers production with Shane Oschman.
A former president of BLT, Nanci received the Lester Brauser Theatre Appreciation Award in 2016 after stepping down from the board with almost two decades of service. While involved with BLT she directed and produced a number of plays, designed and built sets, and performed in several shows. Some of the shows she directed were "Charlotte's Web," The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," "A Christmas Story", among others. Some of the plays she produced or was set designer for include "The Mousetrap," "Nunsense," "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," and "39 Steps". Nanci’s commitment was evident in that if there was a need in any production, she always helped in whatever capacity she could, from costuming and make-up to operating lights. For many of the productions she was involved with, she ensured excerpts were performed at local schools to help promote the arts.
Within the Bradford community, she has been Mrs. Claus and a storyteller at various events like Old Fashioned Christmas and Pumpkinfest. And for decades, she has sung in the choir, played the handbells and served on the drama team at Hill Memorial United Methodist Church, where she also directed performances of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit, Destination Bradford.
We are thrilled to recognize Nanci with the Jackie Award because of her passion and dedication to the arts, and her commitment and service to sharing her love of theater with so many others in the community. Thank you Nanci…Congratulations!