ALBEMARLE — On Friday, April 8, the Stanly County Arts Council announced that the “Arts Person of the Year” for 2022 would actually be not one but two local residents.
“The Stanly County Arts Council is excited to announce that the husband and wife duo of Kent Harkey and Edna Lipe-Harkey are the 2022 recipients of the Arts Person of the Year,” their announcement on social media said. “The Harkeys received numerous nominations, with most of them recommending that they both be honored.”
The Arts Council said that one nominator described their teamwork as a couple saying, “Individually each is involved, but each supports the other in the ‘team’ that they are, striving for excellence in everything for which they are involved.”
The Harkeys were honored for contributing to the arts in multiple ways over many years. A recent example is that they were heavily involved in the planning and execution of a dedication ceremony for the “Charters of Freedom” display in downtown Albemarle. The display shows three life-size bronze replicas of the Charters of Freedom — the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights — located at a spot on the lawn in between Albemarle City Hall and the Stanly County History Museum.
The busy duo were also responsible for bringing the front-porch concert series to the historical Snuggs and Marks houses. These concerts were popular with area residents looking to get out of the house during the pandemic. Bluegrass band Radio Flyer was one of the recent performers.
The announcement mentions that the Harkeys also have been instrumental in bringing the arts to Stanly County schools “and are always looking for ways to beautify our community by incorporating the arts wherever and whenever possible. Even when they are not volunteering, they show support for community events and encourage others to do the same.”
Many in the community celebrated the announcement and congratulated the Harkeys.
Leon Euguene Warren, another Stanly County citizen with a long history of volunteer and civic work locally, responded to the announcement by saying, “Congratulations Kent and Edna!!! Thank You for Your 5 Decades Of Dedication to the Arts in Stanly County. In particular to The Uwharrie Players for whom you have been a ‘Player’ Many Times On Stage and Behind The Scenes. Edna has done as many Costumes for The Players as anyone else, for Decades. Both of you have also volunteered a more than Generous amount of your time in Leadership Capacities, especially during difficult times. You are Both Very Deserving of this Long Due Recognition.”
The Stanly County Arts Council, founded in 1974, promotes and supports the arts — including theater, music, fine arts and much else — within the community. The council says its mission “is to encourage and promote broad-based cultural and educational activities in the arts throughout Stanly County.”