Steinbrück, Seggio Winners Of County Excellence In The Arts Awards

Terri Seggio, left, and Michael Steinbrück have won awards from the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

Two township residents have won Excellence in the Arts awards from the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

Michael Steinbrück is a winner of the Arts in the Community award, and Terri Seggio is a winner of the Arts in Education Award.

Steinbrück, chairman of the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council, was nominated for the award by township resident John Felix.

Steinbrück nominated Seggio, who is the longtime director of plays at Sampson G. Smith School.

Felix said in an email that the decision to nominate Steinbrück “was very obvious given that the purpose of the awards programs mirrored my perception of Michael’s dedication and commitment to increasing public awareness of fine and performing arts. His mantra of bringing the community together through the and arts compliments his genuine enthusiasm of establishing, promoting and fostering an arts program in our community that is inclusive, participatory and sustaining.”

“His inherent leadership skill sets, strong passion for the arts and keen interest in using the arts as a catalyst to bring the community closer together make his perfect candidate for the Arts in the Community award,” Felix said. “I’m truly inspired by his vision and ongoing commitment of enhancing the quality of life in our township by making the arts readily accessible to everyone.”

Steinbrück said that he is “certainly delighted and appreciative at the nomination and selection,” and that he was considering nominating Felix for the award, “and I certainly include and share this with him and many others who support and participate in our work.”

“I have dedicated myself to the work of strengthening communities through the arts and I consider myself firstly a perpetual student of communities and how they work,” he said in an email. “I define myself as a community servant, activist and organizer who is committed to the study and application of that art. My focus is on demanding justice for the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among us and the arts are a very powerful tool to employ in struggle to end social and economic injustice.”

“I am deeply humbled that our efforts are being recognized and even more deeply thankful that the time, energy and sacrifice that we expend for this purpose are in some way validated and endorsed by this recognition,” Steinbrück said.

In his nomination letter for Seggio, Steinbrück said that she “has achieved near legendary status in the Franklin community as so many of us stand in utter amazement at the quantity and caliber of programs and events developed under her direction. Visitors routinely comment that the quality of the intermediate school productions, which stand on par with high school level productions. The sheer magnitude of these activities and programs created by Ms. Seggio is indeed challenging to compile. The number of arts initiatives is as impressive as they are impactful in our community.”

Among Seggio’s accomplishments, Steinbrück said in his letter, are that she “routinely mentors countless students who have long graduated from the intermediate school, and she continues to stay in touch with them into their college years,” she “has created theater productions that go beyond the scope of Ars Gratia Artis,” and that she “Seggio is regionally recognized for her work with students, even winning a grant for $1000 this year from Wells Fargo for making an impact on kids and community through the arts.”

Steinbrück noted that Seggio is involved in a number of other arts initiatives in the township, including the Villagers Theatre Summer Theatre Intensive Program, the Alumni Cabaret and the school district’s annual showcase.

“Every student Terri helps step on stage or join a crew is imbued with a sense of community, belonging and courage,” Steinbrück wrote in an email. “The courage to face a fear, to achieve a goal, to take what was once apart and unite into a cohesive whole. These are the foundational elements that all of us need to live a good life and find a place in our communities.”

Seggio said that she was “overwhelmed, humbled and excited at the same time” to have won the award.

“All of us, who have anything to do with the arts, are dreamers with a passion for creation,” she said in an email. “I don’t know anyone in my arts circle who started out doing it for an award, but for the ‘rewards’ that you get from watching a group of students – all different in one way or another – come together to create something from nothing.”

“For me personally, it’s when I watch students take what is written on a page and make it magic on the stage, looking at them on opening night so proud of what they have done, and on closing night taking that last bow with a heavy heart knowing that it is over for that moment in time, but knowing that they  have changed for the better from doing it,” she wrote.

“At SGS, I am nothing without the incredibly committed students who year after year work so hard to put on the productions, the support of my theatre parents, and all the alumni parents and students that come back each year and give back. I am always amazed by this,” she wrote.

The awards ceremony is set for 7:30 p.m. April 19 at the Green Brook Middle School auditorium.

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