The Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio is a statewide program that showcases and celebrates Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts patrons, and business support of the arts. The public is invited to nominate individuals and organizations in seven awards categories. A selection committee, made up of Ohio Arts Council board members and three individuals selected by Ohio Citizens for the Arts, chooses the winners. The program is presented by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation. 

Nominations for the 2018 Governor's Awards are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination application. Learn more about this year's winners here.

Register today for the 2018 Arts Day & Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio luncheon! The event will be held on Wednesday, May 16 at the Columbus Athenaeum (32 N. 4th St., Columbus, OH 43215). The program will begin at noon. Individual tickets are $50 and include lunch and a dessert reception. Table sponsorships are also available. For more information about purchasing a table, contact the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation.

Meet the 2018 Governor's Awards for the Arts Winners

Akron (Summit)

Howard ParrHoward Parr has more than 30 years of professional experience in the arts and entertainment industry. He has served as executive director of the Akron Civic Theatre since September 2007, having served as its director of development and planning from 1998–2004, during which the theatre completed a $22.5 million expansion and restoration project. In addition to his work with The Civic, Howard provides booking assistance to the City of Akron’s Lock Three Park and to the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.

Prior to joining The Civic, Howard served as general manager of Ohio Ballet, general manager of Cleveland Signstage Theatre, general manager of the Danville Civic Center, and performing arts coordinator at Western Illinois University.


ARTS EDUCATION | Center for Arts-Inspired Learning
Cleveland (Cuyahoga)

Center for Arts-Inspired LearningFounded in 1953, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) creates innovative learning experiences that close learning gaps, teach creative thinking and problem solving, and help students succeed in school, in their first jobs, and beyond. CAL annually provides close to 7,000 arts-in-education programs for 200,000 young people from 150 schools across Northeast Ohio. CAL’s vision extends beyond schools through ArtWorks, a year-round arts-based college and career readiness program for teens, which has provided more than 2,300 high school students with jobs that teach important life skills since its beginning in 2005. CAL continues to be the leading provider of arts education in Northeast Ohio. In 2017, CAL moved to University Circle to provide onsite arts education programming for underserved neighborhoods.


ARTS PATRON | Stuart and Mimi Rose
Springboro (Warren)

From dynamic performing arts centers to rare copies of ancient books, Stuart and Mimi Rose’s support of the arts spans a diverse array of fields. In May 2015, the city of Huber Heights celebrated the opening of its 4,200-seat covered amphitheatre, named the Stuart and Mimi Rose Music Center in honor of the couple’s generous donation. In its inaugural season, the center presented 29 performances and welcomed thousands of visitors to the city. Their recent support of The Dayton Art Institute, where Mimi served on the board, pays homage to the museum’s upcoming centennial in 2019, allowing many exciting projects that further strengthen the Institute to take place.

Other past philanthropic gifts have drawn from Stuart and Mimi’s personal interests. They recently funded the construction of the 300-seat Stuart and Mimi Rose Theatre at Dayton’s Miami Valley School and the 358-seat Carey Family Amphitheater at Cincinnati Country Day School.  Stuart, a rare book enthusiast, has loaned pieces from his private collection to the University of Dayton on several occasions. In 2014, following the “Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress” exhibit featuring 49 rare books, Stuart surprised the school with the donation of a rare “He” version of the 1611 King James Bible and a colorful, whimsical edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland featuring illustrations by Salvador Dali.

Orrville (Wayne)

The J. M. Smucker Company has played an essential role in shaping Ohio’s economic, cultural, and artistic landscape. For 120 years, The J.M. Smucker Company has been committed to offering consumers quality products that bring families together to share memorable meals and moments. Today, Smucker is a leading marketer and manufacturer of consumer food and beverage products and pet food and pet snacks in North America. In consumer foods and beverages, its brands include: Smucker's®, Folgers®, Jif®, Dunkin’ Donuts®, Crisco®, Pillsbury®, R.W. Knudsen Family®, Hungry Jack®, Café Bustelo®, Martha White®, truRoots®, Sahale Snacks®, Robin Hood®, and Bick’s®. In pet food and pet snacks, its brands include Meow Mix®, Milk-Bone®, Kibbles 'n Bits®, Natural Balance®, and 9Lives®. The Company remains rooted in the Basic Beliefs of Quality, People, Ethics, Growth, and Independence established by its founder and namesake more than a century ago. Through partnering with the Akron Art Museum, Magical Theatre Company, the Tuesday Musical Society, and others, its efforts to expand access to the arts in the Northeast Ohio and beyond have enriched people’s lives and strengthened its surrounding communities.

Gahanna (Franklin)

Heartland Bank has been Central Ohio’s community bank since 1911. Experts in commercial real estate, property development, and small to medium business finance, they strive to help execute their clients’ strategic priorities. Heartland also provides vast offerings with expertise in agricultural, small business, and consumer banking services, as well as planning and wealth management.

While there are many opportunities to support the communities served, Heartland Bank steps up, time and time again, to assist local arts organizations by displaying their work in branch offices, funding public art in downtown developments, donating advertising time on Heartland’s digital billboard to support groups like the local symphony, and helping entrepreneurs purchase abandoned warehouses to transform into artist studios.  Heartland is proud to support the entrepreneurial spirit for those that live, work, and play in the communities they serve.

Dayton (Montgomery)

Writer Sierra Leone is the president and artistic director of OFP Theatre Company, co-founded with her husband Robert Owens, Sr. For more than a decade, Ohio has benefitted from Sierra's vision of creative urban arts as a powerful artistic medium to bring communities together across racial, cultural, ideological, and economic divides. Her project “The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” presents a hybrid of urban poetry, music, dance, and visual arts from local, regional, and international talent. The show later expanded to include an energetic poetry competition called The Last Poet Standing.

Her work with youth arts organizations, schools, and community organizations has been ongoing through her company’s educational arm, Signature Educational Solutions. Sierra is continuing girls’ empowerment work through the Dayton Public Schools’ Girls Achievement program, and she has written and performed commissioned work for many local and national organizations.


Zanesville (Muskingum)

An Ohio native, David was raised in Rocky River and attended University School in Shaker Heights before moving to Cincinnati. He received a B.A. cum laude in Honors History from Williams College and an M.S. from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He served as an administrator at George Washington University and at Ohio University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration.

He was elected a founding vice president of the Ohio Continuing Higher Education Association, vice president of the National Council for Resource Development, founding executive director of the Muskingum County Community Foundation, and president of the Artist Colony of Zanesville. After retirement from the Community Foundation, he founded Appalachian Hills of Ohio Territory (AHOOT), the Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics, the All Ohio Contemporary Ceramics Competition and Show, and the Arts Council of Muskingum County.


Oxford (Butler)

Celebrating his 16th year as director of orchestral studies at Miami University, Brazilian conductor Ricardo Averbach has also served as president of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) and guest conductor of orchestras all over the world. His concerts have been broadcast on radio and television in more than 50 countries. As a dedicated advocate of contemporary music, Ricardo has performed and recorded several world premieres for major labels, which have sold more than half a million copies around the globe. The American Prize has recognized his work in the College/University Division in many different categories, including the American Prize in Conducting, which he won in 2010.

A resident of Oxford since 2002, Ricardo has been promoting the arts in the state of Ohio by collaborating with world-renowned artists, participating in multidisciplinary projects, taking his students on tours nationally and abroad, commissioning Ohio composers, and serving on the Committee for the Arts and Innovative Thinking of the Ohio Department of Education.

IRMA LAZARUS AWARD | Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Dayton (Montgomery)

The world-renowned Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) is the oldest modern dance company in Ohio. Founded in 1968 by Jeraldyne Blunden, DCDC is one of few American dance companies of international reputation located outside a major U.S. metropolitan area. Having the world’s largest repertoire of classic works by African-American choreographers, the company continues to celebrate dance art around the world. CEO Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders created collaborative partnerships between the dance company and area universities, and the company delivers extensive education and outreach programs and services to elementary, middle, and high schools, both locally and while on tour.

DCDC is one of three dance companies across the United States tapped to tour internationally through the seventh season of DanceMotion USA, a dynamic cultural diplomacy program run through the U.S. Department of State and Brooklyn Academy of Music. DCDC will travel to Russia and Kazakhstan in May 2018. Historically, this marks DCDC’s third trip to Russia.

Award Categories

ARTS ADMINISTRATION | Individual who has shown sustained, impactful, and visionary leadership of an arts organization. 

ARTS EDUCATION | Individual or organization that has made significant contributions through leadership and creativity to advance arts education in Ohio's schools and community organizations. 

ARTS PATRON | Individual, or individual or family foundation, that, over time, has sustained and enhanced the arts in their community or the state of Ohio through contributions of their time, effort, or financial resources. 

BUSINESS SUPPORT OF THE ARTS (Large and Small) | Private or nonprofit business, government, or media that has, over time, provided extraordinary support to the arts locally, statewide, regionally, or nationally through a contribution of personnel, financial, or other resources. Nominations will be considered in both a small and large category.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATION | Individual or organization that works to create or strengthen interactive arts participation among diverse community members while increasing public awareness about the role of the arts in community life. 

INDIVIDUAL ARTIST | Ohio artist whose work has made a significant impact on his or her discipline locally, statewide, regionally, or nationally. 

IRMA LAZARUS AWARD | The Irma Lazarus Award goes to individuals or organizations who have helped shape public support for the arts through their work as advocates and have brought national and international recognition to Ohio through sustained dedication to artistic excellence. 


Since its beginning in 1971, the Governor's Awards has recognized individuals and organizations who have been vital to the growth and development of Ohio's cultural resources. The Arts Day & Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio Luncheon evolved from the Ohio Arts Council's Governor's Awards for the Arts ceremony and Ohio Arts Day, coordinated by Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization. 

Contact for more information about past winners.

Support and Partnerships






Tickets and Table Sponsors

Registration for the 2018 Arts Day & the Governor's Awards for the Arts luncheon will open in early March.

For information on becoming a table sponsor, please contact Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation at 614-221-4064.


AMANDA ETCHISON | Communications Strategist




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