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 for the Arts in Ohio are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations! The awards ceremony will be held in Columbus on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 

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. 

Meet the 2017 Governor's Awards for the Arts Winners

Cleveland (Cuyahoga)

This is Raymond Bobgan’s 11th season in the leadership position at Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT). Under his leadership, CPT has eliminated significant debt, doubled in financial size, and completed a $7.5 million capital campaign. This financial advancement was the result of mission-focused programming, which places strong emphasis on supporting new works and local artists, a bold aesthetic vision, and CPT’s educational and engagement programs. In the past 10 seasons, Raymond has produced 42 world premiere plays—including 35 by Northeast Ohio playwrights—and more than 150 readings and workshop productions through CPT’s new play development programs. In 1994, Raymond initiated the Student Theatre Enrichment Program, a job training program that engages urban youth in producing and touring original plays. Raymond was the first director of CPT’s Y-Haven Theatre Project, a theatre program for homeless men in recovery. In 2013, Raymond launched Teatro Publico de Cleveland (TPC), which has since grown into a 35-member ensemble of Latino theatre artists. TPC has been featured at national conferences and, recently, in American Theatre magazine. In 2014, Raymond created Station Hope, an acclaimed multi-arts event, which annually involves more than 50 artistic partners in celebration of the Underground Railroad, while exploring contemporary topics of freedom, equity, and justice. In 2015, Raymond was named “Ally of the Year” by Equality Ohio in honor of his public advocacy and support of LGBTQ equality. Raymond serves on the Executive Committee of the National New Play Network as Treasurer and as Co-Chair of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.


Dayton (Montgomery)

Jim McCutcheon has played the guitar since he was 11 years old. He graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in physics and a medical school acceptance and then went on the road with a band. When the tour concluded, he knew music would be the best career for him, and he returned to Dayton, studying music at Wright State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in music (Guitar Performance) and later a master’s degree in music education. As a member of the Ohio Arts Council’s Touring Roster, Jim has performed all over Ohio as “The Guitar Man” and has also performed in England and Russia. He has made four recordings for adults, as well as two specifically for children. He has several publications of guitar compositions and instruction books to his credit, and has written a variety of magazine articles published in the U.S. and England. Jim reviews recordings for Soundboard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America. He also serves as Guitar Adviser to the National Federation of Music Clubs. Jim can be heard weekends on Dayton Public Radio’s “The Intimate Guitar,” which he has produced since 1986. He currently is Artist-in-Residence at the University of Dayton, and adjunct faculty at Wright State University and Miami University. He owns and operates McCutcheon Music in south Dayton with his wife, Debbie, which, with a staff of 50 teachers, has won Dayton Magazine’s “Best Music Instruction” for the past two years.


ARTS EDUCATION | Students Motivated by the Arts (SMARTS)
Youngstown (Mahoning)

SMARTS is a community-based art school which seeks to motivate children to succeed in all areas of life by teaching them the discipline and focus that creating art takes. SMARTS offers classes during and after school to PK-12 students in visual arts, music, dance, theater, and creative writing. SMARTS has a 20-year history in the Mahoning Valley providing quality arts education classes, and in the past three years, SMARTS has successfully transitioned from a public institution to the community as a stand-alone organization. This spring, SMARTS will move into a new home in the historic Ohio One Building in beautiful downtown Youngstown through the ongoing All in One Campaign for SMARTS, which is providing support for the facility and future programming. SMARTS has provided leadership since the inception of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child. Any Given Child: Warren City Schools is the smallest school district and only community in the state of Ohio chosen for this great honor. Any Given Child: Warren is in its first year of implementation with PK-8 students engaged in more arts learning than ever before with programming supported by the Ohio Arts Council’s TeachArtsOhio initiative.

ARTS PATRON | Puffin Foundation West, Ltd.,
Columbus (Franklin)

Led by Java Kitrick, president, Puffin Foundation West, Ltd., (PFW) seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artist activists and arts organizations often excluded from mainstream opportunities because of race, gender, or social philosophy. PFW believes artists are able to reach across the borders of our imagination and in doing so often peaceably transform society’s ideas about social justice issues. Creative expression and innovation have always helped move society toward a more progressive democracy and allows for the recognition of universal humanity. PFW is committed to supporting such grass-roots artists and organizations. PFW partners with and also helps build community partnerships with other concerned groups and individuals to ensure that the arts continue to grow, enlighten, and enrich lives. The foundation accepts grant applications from individuals, educational, cultural, and social justice organizations for projects that use art, dance, music, theater, photography, film/video, writing, poetry, and public interest platforms.

Toledo (Lucas)

ProMedica is a locally-owned, nonprofit health system providing quality health care services with a mission that drives an integrated wellness delivery system based in the community for 142 years. ProMedica is also the largest local employer in the area with a strong commitment to ensuring that Northwest Ohio is a place where people want to work, live, and play. In fact, the mission of ProMedica – to improve health and well-being – underscores its commitment to community and its leadership’s understanding that the mission must be carried out in every corner of the region, not just within the walls of its healthcare facilities. ProMedica recognizes that the arts are a critically integral part of a healthy community, and they provide generous support accordingly – financially, personally, and organizationally. ProMedica believes the arts are a powerful means to build community among people to strengthen the overall social fabric. Through its sponsorships and grants program, ProMedica supports arts organizations of all sizes in their community and members of ProMedica's executive leadership team serve on advisory boards for many organizations. ProMedica is strong in its commitment to the arts, and looks throughout its organization for non- traditional creative ways to support local artists and arts organizations.

Marietta (Washington)

Peoples Bank is nestled on the scenic banks of the Ohio River in historic Marietta, Ohio, where its legacy of leadership dates back to 1902. Peoples is known for its long-standing dedication to improving the lives of the communities it serves, and this commitment is at the center of what it stands for: Working Together. Building Success.® All associates are encouraged to use their knowledge, talents, and resources for greater good, and Peoples Bank staff have dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours of service. The Peoples Bank Foundation, organized exclusively for charitable purposes, helps meet other needs in the community. The Foundation focuses its charitable giving in four major areas: community investment and economic development, youth and education, human services, and arts and culture. Peoples strongly believes that fostering creativity and promoting the arts can help stimulate local economies and cultivate vibrant communities, and it supports numerous cultural initiatives like concerts and children's music, arts centers, museums, and art and theater programs. Recently, Peoples was privileged to help renovate the Peoples Bank Theatre, a historic landmark in downtown Marietta. Associates worked closely with theatre representatives and civic leaders to help turn the dream of reopening the historic theatre into a reality that draws entertainers from around the globe. With the restoration complete, Peoples Bank came full circle in its support as it was a lead sponsor in the theatre’s very first production nearly a century ago in 1919.

Columbus (Franklin)


Linda C. Stone, MD, is a wife, mother, grandmother, family physician, medical educator, and retired associate dean for student affairs at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She currently volunteers as special assistant to the dean for humanism and professionalism. As a family physician, Dr. Stone served patients in Columbus for 25 years. Upon retirement, she founded the OSU College of Medicine’s Humanism in Medicine program, including the Medicine and the Arts Series and the Humanism in Medicine Student Section (including the Professional School Orchestra; Ultrasound Choir; the Writer’s, Photography, Visual Arts, and Theatre/Film & Arts groups; and Dance in Medicine). Dr. Stone was selected by the Class of 2004 as the OSU College of Medicine Professor of the Year and was designated a Local Legend by the American Medical Women’s Association in 2005. She has received numerous teaching awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the OSU College of Medicine in 2009. The College of Medicine created the Linda C. Stone Award in Mentoring in 2011. She has also received the OSU College of Medicine’s Alumni Achievement Award and the Alumni Service Award. The Ohio State University Alumni Association honored Dr. Stone in 2014 with the Josephine Sitterle Failer Award for her work in humanism and professionalism. In 2016, the American Medical Association honored her contributions to the medical humanities with the Isaac Hayes, MD, and the John Bell, MD, Award for Leadership in Medical Ethics and Professionalism.

Lebanon (Warren)


From Lebanon, Ohio, C.F. Payne is the Director of the Hartford Art School’s MFA in Illustration program at the University of Hartford. For 40 years, he has worked as an illustrator for magazines, advertisements, and children’s books. For 30 years, he has been an art educator. Graduating from Miami University in 1976 with a BFA, and studying at the Illustrators Workshop, he started work as a studio illustrator in Akron and Chicago. Moving to Texas, he began his freelance career in 1980 in Dallas and his teaching career in 1983 at Brookhaven College and later at East Texas State University. His art has appeared on the covers of Time Magazine, MAD Magazine, DerSpiegel, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Reader’s Digest. His art has been exhibited in numerous museums and university galleries, including the Cincinnati Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Huntington Art Museum, and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Payne has illustrated 20 children’s books, including “Mousetronaut” by Mark Kelly, which reached No. 1 by The New York Times. His recent projects include 80 pictures for Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and 40 pictures for the Cincinnati Symphony’s performance of the Serge Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”

IRMA LAZARUS AWARD | Procter & Gamble (P&G)
Cincinnati (Hamilton)

Procter & Gamble believes it has an opportunity and responsibility to improve the lives of consumers and employees around the world, as well as serve the communities in which they live and work. P&G is a global business, and one way that it can fulfill this larger responsibility is through its support of the arts. P&G believes the arts bring people together and make neighborhoods more livable and attractive. The arts also play a key role in encouraging creativity and innovation – vitally important to the workforce of its business and businesses everywhere. P&G is proud of its local leadership for the arts  in its headquarters city of Cincinnati, and proud of all the ways it integrates the arts into its national and worldwide corporate public involvement.


Since its beginning in 1971, the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio has recognized individuals and organizations who have been vital to the growth and development of Ohio’s cultural resources. Each year, the public is invited to nominate individuals and organizations in eight award categories. The program is presented by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization. 

Contact for more information about past winners.

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