Trudy Coxe Receives Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts

Preservation Society of Newport County CEO Trudy Coxe was one of four Rhode Island residents honored during Trinity Repertory Company’s 24th Pell Awards Gala Monday evening at WaterFire Arts Center in Providence, receiving the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts.

Coxe joined such past recipients as Senator Claiborne Pell – the main force behind the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities – and George Wein, who orchestrated the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals for many years.

Other honorees included the artist and creator of WaterFire, Barnaby Evans, and Rhode Island Latino Arts founder Marta V. Martínez, who each received a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts; and former Trinity Rep board chair Suzanne Magaziner, who was recognized with the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts. Actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen received 2023 Pell Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

“I have been to several Pell Award ceremonies in the past, and I can honestly tell you I never thought I would end up on the stage receiving a Pell Award, so this is a really special night for me,” said Coxe, noting the importance of her long relationship with the late Senator Pell, who hosted numerous fundraising parties for Save The Bay when Coxe was running that organization. “I will always be grateful [to him]. More recently, there is not a day of the week I don’t think of him. My office is Senator Pell’s childhood bedroom.”

Coxe also recalled working with Danson when he visited Save The Bay to gain insights into activism and advocacy after founding the American Oceans Campaign.

Coxe was lauded for her leadership raising millions of dollars for preservation of the mansions; launching an aggressive plan to ensure the long-term conservation of the houses; achieving re-accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums – fewer than 900 of the 35,000 museums in the U.S. are accredited; establishing a Fellows program for emerging scholars; initiating a vibrant exhibition program and converting the second floor of Rosecliff into museum exhibition space; and organically growing the organization’s membership from 3,800 to 48,000 supporters.

Coxe also played a key role in convincing HBO and Julian Fellowes to film the new historical drama “The Gilded Age” in Newport, making numerous locations at various Preservation Society mansions available for filming.

She was introduced for the Leadership in the Arts award by Keith Stokes, a member of the Preservation Society’s Board of Trustees and a noted Newport historian.

Trinity Rep’s Pell Awards were established in 1997 to honor the legacy of Senator Pell and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and the New England region as well as on the national level. The 2023 Pell Awards Gala was the first to be held since 2019. All four local honorees were originally slated for recognition in June 2020, but the presentation was canceled due to the pandemic.




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