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Ohio Artists Receive Individual Excellence Awards

Board members of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) approved Individual Excellence Awards for state fiscal year 2018 during a public meeting on April 25.

Individual Excellence Awards are peer recognition of creative artists for the exceptional merit of a body of their work that advances or exemplifies the discipline and the larger artistic community. These awards support artists' growth and development and recognize their work in Ohio and beyond.

During this funding cycle, applications in choreography, criticism, fiction/non-fiction, music composition, playwriting/screenplays, and poetry were accepted. Each award is $5,000.

“We are fortunate to have a creative abundance of outstanding artists in Ohio,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “Frank Lloyd Wright was known to say, ‘I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things I want to see happen.’ The artists earning the Ohio Arts Council’s 2018 Individual Excellence Awards have indeed been tapped for their success.”

For a complete, filterable list of grant recipients, download the Excel spreadsheet here.

 A list of Individual Excellence Award winners follows:


  • Sarah Wells (Ashland) – Non-Fiction


  • Merri Biechler (Guysville) – Playwriting
  • Sharon Hatfield (Athens) – Non-Fiction
  • Mark Phillips (Athens) – Music Composition


  • TaraShea Nesbit (Oxford) – Non-Fiction


  • Mimi Dixon (Springfield) – Non-Fiction


  • Michael Credico (Lakewood) – Fiction
  • Caitlin Dargue (Shaker Heights) – Playwriting
  • Keith Fitch (Cleveland Heights) – Music Composition
  • Mary Grimm (Cleveland) – Fiction
  • Christopher Johnston (Shaker Heights) – Non-Fiction
  • Bradley Ricca (University Heights) – Non-Fiction
  • Pandora Robertson (Cleveland Heights) – Playwriting
  • David Shimotakahara (Cleveland Heights) – Choreography
  • Gregory Vovos (Rocky River) – Playwriting
  • Megan Young (Cleveland) – Choreography


  • Myrna Stone (Greenville) – Poetry


  • Mary Catherine Harper (Defiance) – Poetry


  • Daniel Sapp (Berlin Heights) – Poetry


  • Charles Salmons (Canal Winchester) – Poetry


  • Marc Ainger (Columbus) – Music Composition
  • Jenny Deller (Columbus) – Playwriting
  • Darren Demaree (Columbus) – Poetry
  • Mya Frazier (Columbus) – Criticism
  • Linda Fuller-Smith (Columbus) – Poetry
  • Kevin Griffith (Columbus) – Poetry
  • Samantha Tucker Iacovetto (Columbus) – Non-Fiction
  • Jahir Johnson (Columbus) – Playwriting
  • Kris Paulsen (Worthington) – Criticism
  • Susan Petry (Columbus) – Choreography
  • Rebecca Seum (Westerville) – Non-Fiction
  • Maggie Smith (Bexley) – Poetry
  • Michael Vander Does (Columbus) – Poetry
  • Nick White (Columbus) – Fiction
  • Carmen Winant (Columbus) – Criticism
  • David Yee (Columbus) – Fiction


  • Patrick Culliton (Chardon) – Poetry
  • Brian Macaskill (Chardon) – Criticism


  • Heather Christle (Yellow Springs) – Non-Fiction
  • Will Clemens (Fairborn) – Poetry
  • Rebecca Kuder (Yellow Springs) – Non-Fiction


  • Michael Fiday (Cincinnati) – Music Composition
  • Luke Geddes (Cincinnati) – Fiction
  • Jennifer Habel (Cincinnati) – Poetry
  • Ellen Harrison (Cincinnati) – Music Composition
  • Kristen Iversen (Cincinnati) – Non-Fiction
  • Matt Jones (Cincinnati) – Non-Fiction
  • Douglas Knehans (Cincinnati) – Music Composition
  • Julia Koets (Cincinnati) – Poetry
  • Brian Roley (Montgomery) – Fiction
  • Judith Turner-Yamamoto (Cincinnati) – Fiction


  • Sharon Mooney (Scio) – Poetry


  • Jaquira Diaz (Gambier) - Non-Fiction
  • Kora Radella Feller (Gambier) – Choreography
  • Margaree Little (Mount Vernon) – Poetry


  • Christopher Harris (Madison) – Non-Fiction


  • Elizabeth Ogonek (Oberlin) – Music Composition
  • Marco Wilkinson (Oberlin) – Non-Fiction


  • Jim Ferris (Sylvania) – Music Composition
  • Mikel Kuehn (Sylvania) – Music Composition
  • Eric Pfeffinger (Toledo) – Playwriting
  • Benjamin Stroud (Toledo) – Fiction


  • Vicki Sairs (London) – Fiction


  • Furaha Henry-Jones (Centerville) – Poetry
  • Sharon Short (Centerville) – Fiction


  • Lora Gray (Kent) – Fiction


  • Mark Jordan (Lucas) – Criticism


  • Mary Biddinger (Akron) – Poetry
  • Robin Prichard (Akron) – Choreography
  • Barbara Sabol (Cuyahoga Falls) – Poetry
  • Stefanie Wass (Hudson) – Fiction


  • Katrina Kittle (Springboro) – Fiction


  • Anthony Tognazzini (Wooster) – Fiction


  • Sharona Muir (Perrysburg) – Fiction
  • Frank Rzicznek (Bowling Green) – Poetry
  • Daniel Williams (Perrysburg) – Playwriting

For more information about the OAC’s grant programs, visit

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Updated May 3, 2018: This story has been revised to include an updated version of the spreadsheet that lists Sarah Wells' current city and county (Ashland, Ashland County) and Individual Excellence Award recipient Jaquira Diaz.

Updated May 29, 2018: This story has been updated to include the correct spelling of Mya Frazier's name.
Updated June 1, 2018: This story has been updated with Daniel Williams' correct discipline (playwriting).

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