Often artists will ask themselves, prior to tackling a project, “Is it important?” This question must be answered in the affirmative, for there are few other reasons that make artistic endeavors worthwhile.

For nearly two decades, the Independent has honored artists, arts groups and arts educators doing exceptional work in the Triangle with annual Indies Arts Awards. The people we recognize might be volunteers or professionals; the organizations might be nonprofits or commercial businesses. Whoever they are, and whatever they do, they do the work they do because it is important.

This year, we have recognized five individuals and groups. Tellingly, three of our honorees are grassroots artistic ventures in which success has been made possible through collective (and almost always volunteer) effort. The two individual honorees have been tireless contributors to the Triangle’s cultural well-being for many years, and the work of both men often consists of facilitating the collective talents of others.

This year’s winners are:

Hidden Voices
Using theater to help marginalized communities be heard

Dan Ellison
Mixing arts advocacy with legal and business acumen

Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus
People-powering modern art

William Henry Curry
Wielding the baton for musical joy

Hi Mom! Film Festival
Continuing adventures in lo-fi