Press releases

Cornish College of the Arts Board of Trustees Announces Honorary Doctorate Recipients for 2023

Feb. 21, 2023

SEATTLE — The Cornish College of the Arts Board of Trustees unanimously approved the awarding of the honorary doctorate degree to King County Executive Dow Constantine, 5th Avenue Theater Managing Director Bernadine “Bernie” Griffin, and Arte Noir founder and DoubleXposure podcast producer Vivian Phillips.

“These three individuals’ work in advocacy and support of the arts and culture sector has tremendously impacted the citizens of King County and beyond,” Cornish President Raymond Tymas-Jones said.

Executive Dow Constantine was honored by the national nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts for his commitment to the arts. His efforts include the partnership between King County and 4Culture that set up funding of $18 million for 100 arts and cultural organizations. During the pandemic, Constantine secured emergency funding for artists and art organizations, including Cornish. Constantine was first elected a state representative in 1996 and later served in the state Senate, then the Metropolitan King County Council, before being elected as executive in 2009.

Bernadine “Bernie” Griffin has served as the managing director of The 5th Avenue Theater since 2010 and is responsible for administrative, marketing, fundraising, information services, and facility operations. Before this appointment, she served as the theater’s advancement and development director beginning in 2002. The 5th Avenue is a landmark theatre that has grown from a $10 million to a $25 million organization, evolving from a presenting to producing house with a national reputation as a hub for music and entertainment. Since then, nearly 10,000 artists have been employed by this organization, making it the largest artistic employer in the region.

Vivian Phillips, a native Seattleite, is a well-established arts and strategic communications professional. Her career includes working as an arts and strategic communication consultant for projects such as the Black Future Co-op Fund, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Seattle Chamber of Culture plan facilitator, and Cascade Media/Crosscut-Black Arts Legacies. Phillips is also the producer of the DoubleXposure podcast that gives voice to how arts, creativity, and culture shape lives and community. She is the founder of ARTE NOIR, which launched in May 2021 as an online publication celebrating Black art and culture from the African diaspora. Her most significant contribution was her service on the Seattle Arts Commission from 2012-2018. In the latter three years of her term, Phillips served as chair of the Commission. During this time, the Commission increased the admission tax from 75% to 100%. The additional revenue focus addressed access issues for communities of color.

Cornish College of the Arts will confer this recognition at the 2023 Commencement Ceremony at Benaroya Hall on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 2 p.m.

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