Stanly County Arts Council announces Arts Person of the Year

Since 2014, the Stanly County Arts Council has recognized an Arts Person of the Year. This person has made a significant positive impact on the arts in Stanly County and has worked to support, promote and create quality arts experiences for the whole community.

For 2022, not one but two persons sharing this award seemed to be a natural decision for the judging panel since together the two have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the arts in Stanly County.

The Stanly County Arts Council honored the husband and wife duo of Kent Harkey and Edna Lipe-Harkey as the 2022 recipients of the Arts Person of the Year. They will be publicly recognized for this honor at the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra concert at 3 p.m. Oct. 23.

The Harkeys received numerous nominations with the recommendation that they be honored together. Organizations know that when the Harkeys volunteer for them, it’s a true team effort, receiving the commitment and efforts of both.

Even when Kent and Edna are involved with civic organizations, they bring their creative, theatrical and artistic views to their recommendations.

They assisted in staging a successful dedication ceremony for the Foundations of Freedom charters in downtown Albemarle, added a musical concert series to the porches of Stanly County’s historical homes and seek out ways to beautify our community by incorporating public art wherever and whenever possible.

Even when they are not volunteering, they show support for all community events through their attendance.

Edna Lipe-Harkey is a retired educator of both Stanly Community College and Stanly County Schools. She previously served as board member and treasurer of the Stanly County Arts Council and currently serves as the Cultural Education Program committee chair. In this role, she ensures that all Stanly County school children experience performing arts programs each year.

She sings with the Stanly County Chorale. For more than 40 years, Edna has been involved in the Uwharries Players, as a member, multiple-term president and board chair. She also serves as lead costumer for the Uwharrie Players. Her commitment to Uwharrie Players has been recognized by her induction into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

She is the board chair of the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation and serves on the Design Committee, helping with everything from planting flowers to assisting at Tour of Homes.
Kent Harkey, a realtor with Russ Hollins Realtors, previously served as the board member of the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation and chair of its Design Committee, helping with everything from the public art alleyway project near the Belk building to planting flowers and chairing the Tour of Homes committee. Kent also sings with the Stanly County Chorale.

Like Edna, he has served multiple terms as president, board chair, and member of the Uwharrie Players. For more than 40 years, he has brought the magic of live theater to Stanly County residents through serving as production manager for many productions including the most expensive production in Uwharrie Players history, “Beauty and the Beast.” He also was named a Uwharrie Players’ Hall of Fame member.

Kent has been instrumental in championing the Stanly County Historical Society in transferring the ownership of the historic properties of the Snuggs House and Freeman-Marks House from the county to a 501c(3) entity.

Under his leadership, the Historical Society established an endowment fund to ensure the preservation of the historic and artistic architecture for generations to come.

Through his time and efforts, Kent put together an entire day of Play Music on the Porch at the Snuggs House last August. This event provided 12 hours of music by local musicians on the properties of the Snuggs and Marks houses in Albemarle.

In addition, he is responsible for arranging smaller Playing on the Porch evening concerts along with inviting area artisans to display their talents during Sunday open house events.
Kent was instrumental in the collaborative efforts to transform the Swift Island Bridge bomb into a public art installation at the Stanly County History Center in downtown Albemarle.

Kent and Edna join previous Arts Person of the Year awardees of Charlotte Maness, Angela Moore, Wes Tucker, Carmella Hedrick, Tim Harris, John Williams, and Aza Hudson.
For the year 2021, the Arts Person and Fine Arts Educator of the Year awards were combined and honored all arts educators in the county for their dedication to aspiring our youth to pursue the arts during the pandemic.

The Stanly County Arts Council was founded in 1974. It continues to promote and support all art forms in the community. Its mission is to encourage and promote broad-based cultural and educational activities in the arts throughout Stanly County.

The Stanly County Arts Council is supported by private donations and by the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For the latest information on the arts in Stanly County, visit Contact Renee VanHorn, executive director, at