Meet the winner of the ECDC Cultural District Award 2024 – Barbara Manners

The Ridgefield Economic & Community Development Commission will present the award Barbara Ways as a recipient of the 2024 Cultural District Award at the Ridgefield Arts Council’s Behind the Scenes ceremony on May 9, 2024. This award recognizes those who have made an outstanding contribution to the city’s economic development through some aspect of the cultural district of Ridgefield. This will be the 4e award given by the ECDC, which dates back to 2021, when Ridgefield was recognized as a Cultural District.

Past winners include the former 2021 state representative. Johannes Frey and books about the common owner Ellen Brands for their role in creating the Cultural District designation with the State of Connecticut. The honor of 2022 is Richard Klein for his distinguished tenure as exhibition director at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. The honor of 2023 is Allison Stockel, for her leadership as former Executive Director of The Ridgefield Playhouse.

As we get closer to the official ceremony, we want to highlight Barbara and her incredible contributions to Ridgefield.


Longtime Ridgefield resident Barbara Manners has been extremely active in the city’s arts and culture since the early 1990s. She played a key leadership role in the founding of the Ridgefield Playhouse, served as the first chair of the Ridgefield Arts Council, founded and is the ongoing organizer of the biweekly CHIRP concerts in Ballard Park, serving on boards such as the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and who generally shaped Ridgefield’s cultural landscape. Manners has served on the Ridgefield Board of Selectpersons since 1997.


Tell us a little about yourself, including your background, interests and hobbies.

I grew up in Manhattan and graduated from NYU. I grew up going to Broadway and off-Broadway on weekends, and in college I visited places like the Bitter End. My favorite things to do in Ridgefield are attending ACT and other cultural events when I can, walking my dogs at the West Mountain Reservation, and eating ice cream at Deborah Ann’s. In the summer it is to meet people and make new acquaintances during the concerts.

What motivated you to get involved with the Ridgefield Cultural Community and what keeps you motivated to continue making a difference?

The effort to establish a performing arts center in Ridgefield, which began in 1994, was my introduction and then my major effort until it opened on December 12, 2000. It also prompted me to run for office, as the majority of the board was not in favor at the time. of using the facility for that purpose. What keeps me motivated is the love for the cultural community that I have played a small role in during my years here and the joy that the summer concerts bring to so many. Rudy Marconi is also a privilege to work with our First Selectperson. No one is a bigger booster for Ridgefield than him, no one in my memory over the past 24 years has achieved more.

Who is someone you admire and why do you look up to them?

I think I just answered this question above. But I also admired my mother for all she had accomplished and the wisdom she had developed over her many years of life and her willingness to share that wisdom is inspiring.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Two sayings that have guided my adult life: “Every problem is an opportunity,” or as a man I worked with used to say, “There are no problems, only opportunities for solutions.” And “Do your best never to harm anyone else.” doing. what you don’t want done to you.’ Finally, I want to say: get involved. So much has been accomplished in Ridgefield through the efforts of volunteers and we need new ones to continue that tradition.


Submitted by Ridgefield ECDC