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Brigitte McQueen Receives the Marian Andersen Leadership in the Arts Award

By Elizabeth Snell

Headshots of Brigitte McQueen with a region outline map highlighting Nebraska.

Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) is proud to announce Brigitte McQueen as the recipient of the Marian Andersen Leadership in the Arts Award. This $10K award, named in honor of the late Marian Andersen, recognizes outstanding contributions to the arts and celebrates those who have made a significant impact on the local arts community in Nebraska.

“Words cannot begin to hold how deeply humbled I am to be honored as the recipient of the Marian Andersen Leadership in the Arts Award—to be recognized for work that I feel privileged to have an opportunity to do.” says McQueen. “I am truly inspired by Ms. Andersen’s life of service and feel so proud to receive this honor in her name. It means the world to me and I will do my very best to honor her legacy by continuing to support the arts with the same level of dedication and grace that she moved with. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Andersen family, to the staff of the M-AAA, and to everyone who played a role in making this award possible . . . thank you.”

Originally from Detroit, Brigitte McQueen received her degree in journalism from St. John’s University in New York City. Following graduation, she worked with Russek Advertising, assisting with marketing campaigns for various Broadway productions, as well as for The Joyce Theater. Brigitte joined the staff of Time Inc. in 1997, where she spent the next 10 years serving as an editor and production manager for Teen People magazine.

After adopting Nebraska as her home in 2007, she opened a commercial gallery, called PULP in Omaha. As its curator, she showcased the work of local and international artists with a focus on paper-based contemporary art. Following her desire to better support Omaha’s cultural community through nonprofit work, Brigitte became the manager of the Underground at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in 2010. While there, she helped to develop exhibitions and programs that extended the organization’s mission to support exceptional talent to the arts community of Omaha. In January 2011, she left The Bemis to further pursue her commitment to cultivating the arts and working for social justice in her community through founding The Union for Contemporary Art in North Omaha. 

Over the past 13 years, Brigitte has further worked to serve her community and support its cultural vibrancy through community and board service, including the following appointments: member of the board of directors for the Kent Bellows Studio, advisory board member for Opera Omaha, community advisory board member for Film Streams, and as a community advisory board member for the Joslyn Museum.

“Brigitte McQueen’s contributions to the arts echo the remarkable dedication and service exemplified by the late Marian Andersen,” says Todd Stein, President & CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. “McQueen’s commitment to the arts and her community is an inspiration to us all. We are thrilled to honor her with the Marian Andersen Leadership in the Arts Award, and we look forward to her continued efforts in enriching the cultural landscape of Nebraska.”

About Marian Andersen

Marian Andersen, Omaha, Nebraska, passed away at the age of 93 on April 28, 2022. Andersen was a founding member of Mid-America Arts Alliance in 1973 and was an emerita board member at the time of her death.

As a University of Nebraska graduate with a degree in journalism, Marian worked for the Lincoln Journal Star before committing herself to a life of service at the local, state, and national level. The first woman to chair the University of Nebraska foundation, she served as a board member for local and national groups that include Doane college, Joslyn Art Museum, Mid-America Arts Alliance, and the Public Broadcasting System.

Andersen was elected to the national board of governors for the American Red Cross, becoming vice chair responsible for hiring Elizabeth Dole as the organization’s president in 1991. Soon after in 1994, she was named the United Way of the Midlands Citizen of the Year and was a cofounder of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, a group of contributors who donate a minimum of $10,000 to the annual United Way campaign.

A recipient of the Distinguished Nebraskalander Award from the Nebraskaland Foundation, she was named outstanding sustainer by the Junior League of Omaha. She was past president of Planned Parenthood and co-chair—along with her husband Harold—of Nebraska Shakespeare.