The Academy of Western Artists (AWA), founded in 1996 by a very small group, has grown to include both dedicated members and supporters of the Cowboy way of Life. Together, we all work to bring more visibility to the amazing variety (and talent) of Contemporary Western Artists. These deeply talented artists constantly strive to make their art better, as well as share their craft with new artisans, stretching the boundaries to new levels. The AWA is a non-profit group.
The Academy of Western Artists’ “Will Rogers’ Cowboy Awards” came about in 1996, when western publisher Bobby Newton decided there needed to be some kind of recognition for the performers and artisans who were taking the contemporary Cowboy and Western art movement to new and exciting heights.
The first awards were held in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn North in Fort Worth, Texas with a capacity crowd on hand. Since then it has progressed to be one of the highest awards in recognition of the Western Arts in the world.
There have been almost 500 winners in the many categories recognized by the AWA. Each year, some categories are added and some are deleted to meet the ever changing scene of the Western Contemporary Arts.
Has the AWA had an impact on the state of Western Arts? Definitely Yes, the AWA, along with many other groups have moved Western Arts to much higher levels, which can be seen in the price of current makers’ products, and through the increased numbers of individuals involved in the field. It is a growth industry and will continue to do so for future generations.
The American Cowboy is the only World Hero, and the product of the USA. He is known world wide and the AWA wants to use that image to insure that the Cowboy lives forever.