The Academy Center of the Arts is proud to announce that Sheron White Simpson, founder and director of the Kuumba Dance Ensemble, has been selected as the fifth recipient of the prestigious Lottie Payne Stratton Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the arts and culture in the greater Lynchburg area and is awarded to individuals that have made significant and sustained contributions to the arts community.
The Lottie Payne Stratton Award was established in memory of Mrs. Lottie Payne Stratton (1902 -1965). Affectionately known as Miss Boonie, Lottie was the last known ticket taker of the segregated box office of the Historic Academy Theatre. Lottie was known for not only her kindness and compassion but for also allowing access to the theatre to all, despite skin color or socio-economic background. To honor her legacy, the Academy Center of the Arts awards the Lottie Payne Stratton Award each year to an unheralded individual in the Lynchburg community who supplies access to the arts.
Sheron White Simpson has been a fixture of the Lynchburg arts community for many years, using her talents to promote cultural diversity and bring joy to countless audiences. Sheron is known for her stunning choreography, which blends traditional African dance with contemporary styles to create powerful and unforgettable performances. Her work has been featured all over our state and region with performances at festivals, venues, community events, and more.
In addition to her artistic contributions, Sheron has been a tireless advocate for the arts in Lynchburg, working to promote diversity and inclusion in the arts community and has worked to bring dance education to children throughout the region.
“We are thrilled to honor Sheron with the Lottie Payne Stratton Award,” said Geoffrey Kershner, CEO of the Academy Center of the Arts. “Her artistic talent and her commitment to promoting African dance has had a significant impact in our community in Lynchburg and beyond. Sheron is a true inspiration, and we are proud to be able to recognize her many accomplishments with this award.”
The Lottie Payne Stratton Award was presented at the sold out Drumline Live performance on February 14, 2023, at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg.
“Being selected as the fifth recipient of the Lottie Payne Stratton Award is a great honor,” said Sheron White Simpson. “I am grateful to the Academy Center of the Arts and to the community for their support of the arts and for recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusivity. I look forward to continuing to use the power of dance to bring people together and to inspire the next generation of artists in Lynchburg.”