July 5, 2022

Virginia Beach Recognizes City’s 2022 “Champion for the Arts”

The City of Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission has posthumously selected Marynell Gordon as the 2022 Virginia Beach Champion for the Arts. This annual award is presented to a person, or persons, who has made a significant impact in Virginia Beach's vibrant cultural and arts community through volunteer and/or financial contributions.

The Arts & Humanities Commission unanimously voted to recognize Mrs. Gordon who, upon becoming a member of the Arts & Humanities Commission in 2018, took on the role of chair of the Champion for the Arts Committee. As chair, she made it her personal mission to elevate and illuminate the importance of honoring those who gave generously to the arts in Virginia Beach through volunteer and philanthropic efforts.

"The Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission is honored to recognize Marynell Gordon as the City's 2022 Champion for the Arts," said Sue Grube, chair of the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission. "Marynell's life was dedicated to elevating the arts and humanities as a vehicle to build bridges and improve the richness of our community, and she is dearly missed."

Mrs. Gordon made significant contributions in and for the arts throughout her lifetime, long before joining the Arts & Humanities Commission. Her lifelong love of theater reached a high point in the late 1970s when she became a founding board member of the Virginia Stage Company and remained on the board for 20 years. Mrs. Gordon was also the founding president of the Virginia Stage Associates, a volunteer group aimed at supporting the Virginia Stage Company.

Mrs. Gordon's devotion to the arts and humanities extended to the visual and fine arts realm as well, as she served as a gallery teacher at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) for 16 years. In this volunteer role, she helped countless students and visitors articulate what they noticed, felt and wondered about various artworks on display. Additionally, Mrs. Gordon was a longtime philanthropic supporter of MOCA and loved volunteering to work at the Boardwalk Art Show.

In addition to these commitments, Mrs. Gordon was also a supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic and the Chrysler Museum Masterpiece Society.

Together with her family, Mrs. Gordon extensively championed non-profit community arts, and never missed an opportunity to volunteer her time or talents to organizations actively creating a better Virginia Beach through the arts.

The Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission will present the 2022 Champion for the Arts award to Mrs. Gordon's family during a ceremony at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in August.

The idea for the Champion for the Arts award came about through the development of the City's first-ever strategic plan for the arts, Virginia Beach Arts Plan 2030, in order to recognize community members dedicated to the furtherance of the arts in Virginia Beach. The Commission felt that honoring citizens who go above and beyond to raise awareness for the arts in Virginia Beach was an important first initiative to implement from the Arts Plan 2030.

Previous Champion for the Arts award recipients include Barbara Lewis, Tom and Juanita Felton, Barbara and Andrew Fine, Meredith and Brother Rutter, and Nancy Creech.


The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.

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