Bill Hedges receives Bob Steffen Pioneer Award

Release Date: 

03/11/2016

Contact(s): 

Wyatt Fraas, wyattf@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs, Phone: (402) 254-6893
or Elisha Smith, elishas@cfra.org, phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007

Lyons, NE - The Center for Rural Affairs is pleased to announce that Bill Hedges of Lyons, NE has been chosen to receive the 2015 Bob Steffen Pioneer Award. He was honored for his integrity, leadership and extraordinary efforts in community development at a special awards banquet on Friday, March 11.

This honor is bestowed by the Center for Rural Affairs Farm and Community Program each year to a person or persons who make an extraordinary contribution to the work of the program and provide a model for innovation, stewardship or community development.
 
“Bill Hedges is a cultural icon in Lyons, Nebraska,” states Wyatt Fraas of the Center for Rural Affairs. “When Bill retired from the US Postal Service, he returned to his hometown to create the unique cultural space that he named Cosmic Studios. A lifelong movie buff, Bill bought Lyons’ old theater building, where he had worked as a projectionist in his teens.  There Bill recreated his favorite film sets, notably the spaceship from the ‘Lost in Space’ television series, and established a studio for filmmakers to use.”
 
When the Center for Rural Affairs' Byway of Art project proposed a rollout theater site as a community art project in 2014, Bill created a companion piece of art. He envisioned and directed a community documentary film, dubbed “Decades,” to recreate scenes of Lyons’ main street through the years, involving local actors, period costumes, and classic cars. He recruited community members to conduct the historical research and to throng the streets for the filming. The premiere showing of "Decades" became the inaugural event for the opening of the Storefront Theater on a warm November evening in 2015.
 
According to Fraas, “In addition to these creative endeavors, Bill has provided incredible support to the Byway of Art project over the last two years – allowing the use of his studio as a literal staging ground, donating a living space for the artist-in-residence, supplying tools, and most importantly, volunteering his time for the project. Bill consented to numerous interviews with radio and TV reporters, bringing even more attention to the events in his hometown and to the potential for community-based art to raise up the community. Lyons’ new Storefront Theater will continue to be a success well into the future because of Bill Hedges’ quiet leadership, his creativity, and enthusiasm for community cinema.”
 
The Bob Steffen Pioneer Award is given out each year to someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to the work of the Center for Rural Affairs Farm and Community Program in the area of innovation, stewardship or community development. Bob Steffen was a pioneer in sustainable agriculture, organic farming and biodynamics. He helped found the Nebraska Sustainable Ag Society and was a founding member of the Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors.  He made a mark in Nebraska and beyond.
 
For a picture of Bill visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cfra/albums/72157663635493914/with/25763053376/.  (Pictures of all award winners will also be available at this link after the awards ceremony. Pictures courtesy of the Center for Rural Affairs.)
 
For more information about this and other Center for Rural Affairs awards please visit: www.cfra.org.

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