Staff from The Center for Rural Development attended the 2018-2019 Governor’s Awards in the Arts ceremony today in Frankfort. Center staff members were joined by several other community members as they gathered with the crowd in the State Capitol Rotunda to honor Cornelia Dozier Cooper.
Cooper was awarded with the Milner Award for outstanding philanthropic, artistic and other contributions to the arts. The Milner Award is the most prestigious of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts.
After moving to Somerset from Madisonville in 1961, Cornelia Dozier Cooper, wife of the late Richard Ernst Cooper and a sister-in-law to the late U.S. Sen. John Sherman Cooper, became active as an arts philanthropist in the community. Cornelia was president and a founding member of Lake Cumberland Performing Arts and was a featured artist for the University of Kentucky Art Museum “Art in Bloom” annual fundraiser. She is also a recipient of the Master Musicians Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, and has supported the Lake Cumberland Children’s Theatre Series, Somerset’s Master Musicians Festival and visual and performing arts programs at Somerset Community College.
Cooper was also a member of the first ever Kentucky Arts Council board, following the agency’s creation in 1965.
An accomplished watercolor artist (she studied English watercolor at Oxford University), Cooper started the Cornelia Dozier Cooper Endowment for the Arts. The endowment funds multiple $1,000 awards given each year to support the visual and performing arts in the Lake Cumberland area. The fund is supported, in part, by money generated by the sale of her own watercolor paintings.