In 1960, the Women’s City Club sponsored a series of talks to assess the cultural scene in Cleveland. In the final lecture of the series, composer Klaus George Roy suggested that Cleveland begin a tradition of identifying and honoring its own outstanding artists on an annual basis. Martha Joseph accepted Roy’s challenge and assembled the first Cleveland Arts Prize committee.
For 30 years, Martha Joseph guided the Arts Prize within the Women’s City Club and led a drive to establish an endowment. Under the tenure of Mary Louise Hahn (Chair, 1990 – 2000), the Arts Prize commissioned an Arts Prize medal, launched a scholarship program, and established the tradition of holding an annual awards event in cultural venues throughout the city. Led by Diana Tittle (Chair 2000-2004 and Arts Prize recipient 1997) the Arts Prize codified and published the selection criteria and became an independent non-profit organization. In 2005, Terri Pontremoli led the organization until Marcie Bergman became the Executive Director in 2006. Under Marcie’s direction the Cleveland Arts Prize began the tradition of holding a fundraiser in addition to the annual awards event.
The oldest award of its kind in the United States, the Arts Prize is a testament to the standard of excellence and quality of artists in Northeast Ohio. In addition to artists, the Arts Prize honors individuals who have expanded the community’s participation in the arts and helped make the region more hospitable to creative artistic expression.
Cleveland Arts Prize— has two purposes:
To identify, reward, publicly honor and promote those creative artists whose original work has made Northeast Ohio a more exciting place to live, and whose accomplishments have set a standard of excellence to which other artists can aspire.
Artists are essential to a healthy community, and the arts need a supportive environment and an engaged public. Therefore, it is also the mission of The Cleveland Arts Prize to recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations that have expanded the community’s participation in the arts and helped make the region more hospitable to creative artistic expression.
Cleveland Arts Prize Vision:
We will continue promoting and rewarding artists, individuals and organizations that contribute to the quality of our life by:
Connecting them to the community through year-long accessible programming,
Offering more funded awards to more artists, and greater recognition for their efforts.
The Cleveland Arts Prize Goal:
It is the goal of the Cleveland Arts Prize to support and encourage artists, and to promote public awareness of artistic creativity in Northeast Ohio through the work of Arts Prize recipients.
Barbara Robinson, Chair
Robert Maschke, Board President
Lauren Generette Floyd
Kristin S.M. Morrison
Marjorie B. Shorrock
Thomas D. Warren
John C. Williams
Mary Louise Hahn
Robert P. Madison
Marcie Bergman, Executive Director
Grace Summanen, Administrative Assistant
Camille N. Baron, Bookkeeper
William Busta Gallery
Cleveland State University Foundation
Cuyahoga County Public Library
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Third Federal Foundation
Westlake Reed Leskosky
Supporters and Supporting Organizations:
The Kelvin & Eleanor Smith Foundation
JP Murphy Foundation