Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio

Ohio is home to individuals and organizations who are transforming their communities through the arts. From the local business that volunteers each year at an annual arts festival to the art educator who goes above and beyond to bring meaningful arts experiences to her classroom, our state is full of people who prove each day that the arts have the power to strengthen communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

The Governor's Awards showcases and celebrates exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, and business support of the arts. Governor's Awards recipients are honored at a luncheon ceremony in Columbus, where they are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor. Each award winner receives an original piece of artwork created specifically for the event by an Ohio artist and the opportunity to share their story with other arts supporters statewide.

Assembling a Competitive Governor's Awards Nomination Webinar Series

Part I: OAC Communications Strategists Katie Monahan and Amanda Etchison cover all you need to know about the Governor's Awards. From crafting a competitive application to getting acquainted with the new online nomination form, they share tips and tricks to help guide you through the nomination process from start to finish.


Part II: Tune in for a panel discussion with successful nominators of Governor’s Awards past. Panelists reflect on the experience of coordinating a nomination and offer advice on establishing a strong narrative, enlisting a diversity of voices for support letters, and more.

Meet the 2020 Governor's Awards for the Arts Winners

Gallipolis (Gallia)

Lora Snow of Gallipolis. Ariel Opera House and Ohio Valley SymphonyLora Lynn Snow is the founder and executive director of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, home of The Ohio Valley Symphony. Lora, an oboist, was inspired in 1987 to form a professional orchestra in Gallia County and recognized the amazing acoustics in the long-neglected 1895 Ariel Opera House that had been abandoned for 25 years. Lora spearheaded the restoration and set about to organize the community toward the grand reopening of the historic Ariel in 1990 with a performance of The Ohio Valley Symphony. Mrs. Ann Carson Dater gifted the Ariel as a permanent home to The Ohio Valley Symphony (OVS) in 2005, which added an additional theatre, conference room, and banquet rooms. The OVS, now in its 30th season as the only professional orchestra in the Ohio River Valley, recently premiered Songs of Rural America on PBS nationwide with folk singer Michael Johnathon.

Having a holistic view of the arts, Lora also established a music education program, a double reed festival, a community theatre troupe, and OVS woodwind and dance programs at the Ariel. An active recitalist, clinician, and consultant with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance and education from the Ohio State University, Lora has taught at several universities and public schools covering kindergarten through graduate level inclusive. She is principal oboist for The Ohio Valley Symphony and OVS Woodwind Quintet, a member of the West Virginia Symphony, and a freelance musician.

ARTS EDUCATION | Nigel Burgoine
Holland (Lucas)

Nigel Burgoine of Holland. The Ballet Theatre of ToledoNigel Burgoine, artistic director of the Ballet Theatre of Toledo, is a classical ballet instructor and choreographer. A graduate of the Royal Ballet School and former principal dancer with the London Festival Ballet, Nigel has danced around the world, performing in Australia, Brazil, Africa, and throughout Europe in principal roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Nutcracker, and Romeo & Juliet. Fueled by his passion for sharing the magic of ballet with the next generation of dancers, Nigel has used his experience and training to teach ballet to diverse audiences. A founding member of the London Festival Ballet Education Team, Nigel has implemented educational programs for dancers and communities in cities in Norway, Spain, England, and throughout the United States. 

Prior to founding the Ballet Theatre of Toledo in 2005, Nigel served as artistic director at several other Ohio companies, including the Cincinnati Ballet and the Toledo Ballet, where his full-length productions and educational programs were designed to inspire young dancers by confronting stereotypes surrounding ballet. Nigel continues to serve as an ambassador for Ohio arts, recently working as a guest teacher and choreographer in Japan and Canada and constantly seeking opportunities to connect international artists and organizations with Ohio dancers and their communities.

ARTS EDUCATION | Marshall C. Kimball
Marietta (Washington)

Marshall Kimball of Marietta, Marietta CollegeMarshall C. Kimball completed a 47-year teaching career upon retirement from Marietta College after 14 years of service. At Marietta College he was the chairman of the department of music, professor of music, and director of bands and instrumental activities. He holds a Bachelor of Music in music education and a Master of Music in music education from Ohio University.

While teaching at Marietta College, Marshall received the Freshman Advising Award, the Innovative Teaching Award, The Douglas Putnam Outstanding Service Award, and the Harness Outstanding Educator Award. In April 2019 he received the Lifetime Achievement in Music Award from the Ohio University School of Music.

Marshall began his teaching career in Starr-Washington Local Schools (Union Furnace, Ohio), then proceeded to Trimble Local Schools (Glouster, Ohio), and finished his 30 years in the Ohio public schools with 26 years at Marietta City Schools. During his time in Marietta City Schools, the high school band program was recognized as a standard of excellence regionally, statewide, and nationally. 

Following retirement from Marietta City Schools in 2001, Marshall took on adjunct work at Washington State Community College and Marietta College. The adjunct professor position at Marietta College eventually led to a full-time position in 2006, where he achieved full professor rank and became the chair of the music department. He currently is an adjunct professor/music consultant for the music department, working 10 hours per week and deals with administrative and accreditation issues.

ARTS PATRON | The Charles H. Dater Foundation
Cincinnati (Hamilton)

The Charles H. Dater Foundation logo. Cincinnati.The Charles H. Dater Foundation was founded in 1985 to make grants to organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area that carry out projects benefiting young people in the areas of arts and culture, education, healthcare, social services, and other community needs. Since then, the foundation—one of the largest private foundations in Greater Cincinnati—has awarded more than 3,100 grants totaling $51 million to approximately 400 private, nonprofit organizations and public agencies for an array of programs and projects. Named after its founder, Charles Hixson Dater (1912-1993), a Cincinnati native and U.S. Army officer in World War II, the foundation preserves the memory of Dater and his ancestors, whose hard work and business acumen over four generations provided them with the opportunity to share their success with others in their community. Run entirely by officers and directors with no full-time staff, the foundation upholds the Dater family’s philanthropic commitment to enriching young lives by supporting community programming and services that have a positive and lasting impact on children.

BUSINESS SUPPORT OF THE ARTS | Nicolettecinemagraphics
Columbus (Franklin)

Nicolettecinemagraphics in ColumbusNicolettecinemagraphics is a two-person digital media business based in Columbus that has supported the arts in myriad ways since it was founded by filmmakers Nicolette and Matt Swift in 2006. From donating their time and resources for use by arts-based nonprofits, to conducting teaching artist residencies exploring the art of filmmaking and video production, Nicolettecinemagraphics has worked closely with organizations such as VSA Ohio, Bridgeway Academy, Food for Good Thought, the Vanderelli Room, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Ohio State University Film Studies Program, and more. Through visual storytelling, the company supports and celebrates communities by creating digital content that showcases Ohio’s artists and arts organizations. 

Nicolettecinemagraphics’ community involvement extends to initiatives such as the Columbus iteration of ReelAbilities Film Festival, a festival dedicated to presenting award-winning films by and about people with disabilities, and the Columbus Moving Image Art Review, a free quarterly screening event that provides local filmmakers, animators, and video artists with a dedicated space in which to share their work. By approaching film projects through the lens of accessibility, Nicolettecinemagraphics uses Nicolette and Matt’s expertise and knowledge to support creative projects that inspire and engage all audiences.

Pomeroy (Meigs)

Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch in PomeroyJorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch was initially built in 1989 as “a ranch that grows guitar players,” but it has since transformed into so much more. Founded by Jorma and Vanessa Kaukonen, the former of whom performed with Jefferson Airplane and still performs regularly with Hot Tuna, Fur Peace Ranch is an immersive music camp, conference center, concert venue, and art gallery located in Meigs County. Designed as a place where musicians can come together and draw inspiration from their creative surroundings, the ranch hosts students who stay in cabins, participate in group jam sessions, and attend music classes. Beyond the connections created over the course of music-filled weekends, Fur Peace Ranch also unites the broader community with outreach and engagement efforts taking place throughout Southeast Ohio.

Guided by the belief in the power of music to promote peace and change lives for the better, Fur Peace Ranch supports local artists, farmers, and businesses; brings national recording artists to local audiences through a recurring concert series that is simulcast on WOUB’s “Live from Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch” every Friday; and promotes the reach of the arts throughout Southeast Ohio and beyond.

Elyria (Lorain) 

Joan Perch of Elyria. Lorain County Community CollegeJoan Perch began her career as an arts educator and owner of several successful art galleries in downtown Cleveland. Recognizing the opportunity to combine and implement cutting-edge approaches to the fields of art, technology, business, and civic and economic development, Joan has pioneered programs that embraced innovation to further the impact of the arts. Drawing from her experience in STEAM education, entrepreneurship, creative placemaking, and the intersection of arts and technology, Joan has contributed to the development of programs such as Cleveland’s Sparx in the City; the Ingenuity Festivals of Art and Technology; and the FireFish STEAM Maker Teen Academy, a year-round apprentice program for culturally at-risk urban teens developed in partnership with the FireFish Festival in Lorain, Ohio.

A staunch advocate for artists in communities, Joan also founded RED Dot Project, a social enterprise that utilized web-based technologies to market the art of Northeast Ohio artists; and the Future Artist Lab at Lorain County Community College’s Campana Center for Ideation and Invention, where she is currently the program developer and outreach coordinator at Lorain County Community College’s Patsie C. and Delores Jené Campana Center for Ideation and Invention.

Canton (Stark)

Jesse Ayers of Canton. ComposerJesse Ayers, DMA, is an award-winning composer and a professor emeritus of music at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jesse began composing in his early teens, and at age 17 was invited by the legendary WJ Julian to conduct the University of Tennessee's top concert band in a performance of his first work for band. In 2011, Jesse was awarded the inaugural American Prize for Orchestral Composition and was named an “Honored Artist” of the American Prize in 2014. His music has been performed throughout the world in countries including Japan, South Africa, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, and Portugal, as well as in more than 100 U.S. cities.

Best known for his orchestral and symphonic band "surround-sound" concert stories that explore the intersection of the spiritual and natural worlds and the redemptive intervention of God in the affairs of the human race, Jesse has been honored with several Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and was most recently named 2019 Ohio Music Teachers Association Composer of the Year. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate in music composition from the University of Kentucky.

Dayton (Montgomery)

Andy Snow of Dayton. PhotographerAndy Snow has worked as a professional photographer for more than 40 years after becoming fascinated with photography while finishing his philosophy degree at Princeton University. There, under the guidance of documentary photographer Sol Libsohn and photography historian Peter Bunnell, Andy learned the practice and art of illuminating narrative with photography. In 1993, he chronicled his work for TIME, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, The New York Times, Forbes, and Fortune magazines in his book titled Location Photography Secrets. Following post-graduate studies at Ohio University and Antioch University, Andy expanded further into sound, film, video, and all things digital. He completed a self-designed master’s degree program at Antioch in digital media in 2005.


A documentarian at heart, Andy is mindful of revealing essence through light, shadow, and color while remaining receptive to any surprising interventions that might be chaos or perhaps synchronicity. His historic project, “Watershed, Then&Now,” commemorating the Great Flood of 1913 in the Miami Valley of Western Ohio, was honored as one of 20 “Best Projects of 2013” by the American Society of Media Photographers. He has worked with a variety of clients ranging from General Electric and Procter & Gamble to the City of Dayton and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

About the Award Artist

Barry UnderwoodBarry Underwood, a Cleveland-based artist, has an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA in theatre and photography from Indiana University Northwest.

Inspired by an innate curiosity about the ecological and social history of specific places, Barry strives to foster awareness of environmental change by engaging viewers in unexpected visual hypotheses, offering novel lenses through which to consider the impact of human action on our surroundings. His work is a series of long-exposure photographic images of sculptural structures built on-site in specific landscapes, which he constructs by immersing himself in a given place, researching and instinctively reading the terrain, and then marking the site using foreign light sources and physical processes.

Barry was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2008 and 2019, a Creative Workforce Fellowship through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in 2013, and the Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual Arts in 2011.  He has also been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Center for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts , Shelburne Farms at Burlington City Arts, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the MacDowell Colony, Teton Artlab, and most recently the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany.

Barry has exhibited his work in a variety of contexts including art museums, university galleries, project spaces, and for-profit galleries throughout the United States. His work has also been reviewed in numerous print and digital publications and published in various books in the U.S. and abroad. His photographs are in the collections of the Akron Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Elton John Photography Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts  in Houston, the Rockefeller Family Art Collection, the Progressive Art Collection, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and the George Gund Foundation, among several others.

Learn more about Barry and view his work at

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) | Private or nonprofit business, government, or media with 100 or more employees 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. 

BUSINESS SUPPORT OF THE ARTS (Small) | Private or nonprofit business, government, or media with fewer than 100 employees 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. One of the most prestigious arts events in Ohio, the Governor's Awards showcases and celebrates exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, and business support of the arts. Governor's Awards recipients are honored at a luncheon ceremony in Columbus, where they are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor. Each award winner receives an original piece of artwork created specifically for the event by an Ohio artist and the opportunity to share their story with other arts supporters statewide.

Contact for more information about past winners.

Support and Partnerships



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