As an active member of the General Federation of Woman’s Club since April 1971, she has worked with the Picture Lady project, which sends art mentors into local elementary schools to inspire students to pursue their own artistic interests. Currently, she serves as the financial secretary for three arts-related groups in town: Festival of the Arts held every February, the STAGE-M community theater group, and the Tuba Bach concert series. Her musical involvement goes even further: she has sung with Voca Lyrica, Big Rapids’ premiere women’s chorus, since 2004.
Established in 1984 by the Mecosta County Council for the Arts and continued by Artworks in 2001, the Patron of the Arts award recognizes lasting dedication to the arts and humanities. Recipients of this award are recognized for their sustained dedication for the arts, specifically in volunteering services, talent or financial support; they must also be currently active in the arts.
No one is more involved in the arts of Big Rapids and Mecosta County than Jerena Keys according to Artworks Board Vice President, Roxanne Cullen.
“I kind of anticipated it would be someone from Artworks,” said Keys. “I was honored and surprised.”
Keys received the award at the annual Artworks Gala on May 13. “You’ll Love It Here!” was this year’s theme for the gala, mirroring the unofficial motto of Big Rapids that is painted on the Perry Avenue water tower. Including sponsorships and funds from the event, Artworks raised about $30,000.