The Mayor´s First Annual Artist Award: Bud Lee

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs Committee has been giving out an award for several years to the Cultural Contributor of the Year. It has gone to some very deserving recipients over the years, people who donate time and money to support the arts and enhance the cultural climate of the city. This year, to no one´s surprise, it went to the very worthy and exemplary Pallavi and Kiran Patel, husband and wife doctor-philanthropists who bankrolled the fabulous new Patel Conservatory opening this fall at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Kiran Patel touched everyone´s heart at the ceremony when he got choked up during his acceptance speech. But the best surprise was the addition of a new award: The Mayor´s Annual Artist Award. It´s about time we recognized the part actual artists play in our cultural life. The first ever award went to Photographer Bud Lee. Not only has he documented the full range of life in Florida, from the quirky to the dramatic, he has unleashed, encouraged and nurtured the artist within everyone he´s met, from schoolchildren to the elderly. Lee is the godfather of the local artists community, spawning creative projects and a sense of community and purpose. Lee has done a great deal of work for the Planet over the past five years and was working on last year´s Best of the Bay when he had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. He remains in a nursing home in Plant City, where he continues to nurture his creative spark despite his lack of mobility.