Harriet Friedman (Waltham, Massachusetts - Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatre) suggested creating a state organization to support the festival and other community theatre activities when, twenty-eight years ago, community theatres in Eastern Massachusetts found themselves suddenly without support for their annual community theatre festival, which had run uninterrupted since 1954. She visited theatres to hear their needs, explained the long-term benefits of the organization, and asked for their financial support. In 1989 EMACT (Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatre) was born. Today EMACT is a thriving organization with a membership of 50+ groups, a vital workshop series, and strong education and theatre evaluation programs. As EMACT moves into its second 25 year history, Harriet remains very active and continues to offer help, support and guidance.
Dotti Peek (New Palestine, Indiana - Indiana Community Theatre Association) has been involved with more theatres and theatre related organizations in Indiana then one might even know existed. She participated in Buck Creek Players, Footlite Musicals, Epilogue Players, Edavein Theater, IUPUI Children's Theatre, Indiana Community Theatre Association, AACT, Indiana Theatre Association, and even her local church. Through her involvement with these organizations, she has contributed an amazing 50 plus years of service to community theatre. Whether chairing a festival, writing a newsletter, serving on the board, assisting committees, or doing her part on-stage or backstage, Dotti embodies the phrase "the show must go on." _Her involvement with the Indiana Community Theatre Association and AACT, as well as the wonderful advice and support she gives to those who follow in her footsteps, has made Dotti an inspiration to others and a motivating force for growth in all aspects of community theatre.
Melanie Cornelison (Ashland, Kentucky - Paramount Players) saw the need for an in-house community theatre shortly after accepting the position of Director of Education and Outreach at the Paramount Arts Center; thus Paramount Players was born. As the group's current Artistic Director, Melanie produces, directs, and volunteers her time to create the choreography for each of the 5 - 7 plays and musicals in addition to her other job responsibilities. In furthering arts education for ages 7 - adult, Melanie created an Arts Academy Program and personally oversees the nearly 20 local artists who deliver classes in acting, dance, chorus, visual arts, and private voice lessons. Wanting to reach underprivileged children and rural schools with the arts, Melanie created Paramount on Tour, taking productions on the road. Thanks to Melanie's vision, nearly 1,000 tri-state residents now call themselves Paramount Players and whether on-stage or backstage, there's a place in the community for everyone to shine.
Lisa Garza (Houston, Texas - Houston Family Arts Center) is an example of that singular individual who combines major donor, talented director, playwright, set designer, Assistant Artistic Director, and accomplished costume designer. As a founding partner, she and her husband provided initial financial support to help start Houston Family Arts Center (HFAC) in 2005, then in 2006, she joined the board and has played an integral role ever since. Lisa and her husband have demonstrated extreme generosity by providing funding to the Garza Main Stage, Actors Academy, and Fischer Studio. These spaces have allowed HFAC to serve additional patrons, commission and present new works, expand the theatre's Actors Academy, which now serves over 1500 students per year, and provides a permanent home for both the HFAC Main Stage and Actors Academy productions. Lisa's inspiration as a donor, a volunteer, an artistic talent, and her generosity of spirit make her a community theatre dream come true.
SCERA Center for the Arts (Orem, Utah) is celebrating its 80th Anniversary. Since 1933, SCERA has produced wholesome and affordable arts and entertainment for patrons young and old and, and as they like to say, "Every time a curtain rises, so does the quality of our lives." Over the past eight decades, SCERA has grown to include the historic SCERA Center for the Arts; SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre; Orem Heritage Museum; SCERA Art Studios; a full scale costume, scenic and prop building; and dozens of arts education programs serving more than 18,000 youth and adults. Thousands have performed and fallen in love with theatre through their involvement at SCERA. While State Street is no longer a dirt road and the farms that once dotted the Orem landscape are few and far between, SCERA remains front and center - raising the curtain and the quality of life in Utah.
Mort Clark International Achievement Award
Kathie Maldonado (Alto, New Mexico) has been a tireless advocate for international theatre; nurturing opportunities and creating connections with the international theatre community. She has made annual visits to the Region X (Overseas Military) festival in Germany, and enthusiastically performed logistical tasks large and small in support of the festival and its goals. Kathie has become increasingly involved as a liaison to the International Amateur Theatre Association (IATA) and has invested an unequalled amount of time and personal resources to represent the US with the IATA organization, frequently traveling to far flung locations to advise and plan events of mutual interest and benefit. She has been a strong advocate for reviving the North American Regional Association (NARA) of IATA and as its chair, has been striving to revitalize its mission and membership. Kathie has worked to stimulate Canadian and US participation and partnerships and has been a steady and visible presence for the US at diverse international festivals.
Alvin Blasco (Streator, Illinois - Community Players of Streator) has been with the Community Players of Streator every single step from the beginning through its recently celebrated 57th anniversary. He served as the theatre's first business manager, helped as the very first show was produced at the local high school auditorium, and has continued to serve as a friend and mentor to many over the years. In June of 2010 the theatre was hit and destroyed by a tornado. Many on the board stared at the ruins and wondered where to even start. Alvin, in his calm voice of reason, shrugged his shoulders and said simply, "We built it once, we can do it again." That comment became their mantra and with Alvin's continued support, the group found itself in a stunning new facility in less than a year. Alvin has been described as "a forward thinker - with the best interests of the theatre at heart."
Ron McDaniel (Danville, Illinois - Danville Light Opera Musical Theatre) is often at the top of the list when one thinks of "arts supporter." From his first role in 1961, to his latest DLO Musical Theatre performance in 2012, he has delighted in sharing his talents with his hometown. Ron has performed in 39 plays and musicals since 1961, assisted the local Vermilion County Museum by portraying Abraham Lincoln, and debuted the character of Rev. Enoch Kingsbury, a local citizen of importance. Behind the scenes, Ron has been a tireless volunteer: directing, producing, stage managing, and conducting workshops. Ron has also served on the Boards for Danville Light Opera, the Danville Area Arts Council, and the Theatre Advisory Panel for the Illinois Arts Council. He feels that theatre has played such an important role in his life, it is only right that he should use his talents to prolong, strengthen, and promote this strand of art in his community.
Barbara Tarlin (Wellesley, Massachusetts - Wellesley Players) has dedicated 50 years of service to the Wellesley Players. She has served on the Board of Directors in positions including President, Program Director, Publicity Chairperson, Play Reading Chairperson, and Box Office Chair. Barbara has been a featured actress in countless Players' productions as well as those produced by surrounding community theatre organizations. Utilizing her advanced degree in directing from Boston University, Barbara has directed several shows and her strong dance background was utilized when Wellesley mounted their first musical, Mame, in 1969. Barbara began a tradition for the group, dubbed "Coffee House Capers." an annual social gathering showcasing individual talents of the membership. This tradition continues today and remains one of the highlights of the Wellesley Players calendar. Barbara's focus on Wellesley Children's Theatre in the mid 70s helped it grow, and she continues to epitomize team leader, team player, and lifetime member of the Wellesley Players.
Wil Breden (Wellesley, Massachusetts - Wellesley Players) is a veteran of the Wellesley Players for close to forty years, and is recognized as a tireless worker, brilliant musician, and a generous fellow. Wil is an engineer by trade and a Renaissance man in all other aspects and the Players are the lucky recipient of his largess. A composer and lyricist, he generously offers his talents. As a performer, he cheerfully volunteers to step in whenever we "need a man!" He does so with humility and professionalism. Wil is a set construction problem-solver, methodical and thorough in preparation and exacting in his work. He has secured building and storage space, and makes time to attend government meetings in order to keep the theatre's profile raised in the town. Wil Breden embodies all of the many qualities that compose a stellar community theatre member and does so with honesty, compassion, and dedication.
Twink Lynch (Topeka, Kansas) devoted her life to community theatre and to serving as a mentor to both individuals and community theatres across the country. She helped shepherd the national organization's transition from American Community Theatre Association (ACTA) to AACT, served on the Board for six years, including a term as President and VP of Education and on AACT committees for an additional 19 years. Twink managed Topeka (KS) Civic Theatre for many years, retired, then came back during hard times and guided the theatre back to a stable organization. Her passion was such that she earned three degrees in theatre; it is said, she is the only person to earn a Ph.D. in Community Theatre Management. Twink shared her knowledge and experience through consulting and through her "Spotlight on Boards" column in AACT's newsletter, which she wrote for 14 years. In 2000, she edited her columns into a book, Boards in the Spotlight, the proceeds of which benefit AACT. Twink suffered a debilitating stroke in 2005, but her book and reprints of her articles still educate those who are managing and governing community theatres.
Kirk Players (Mundelein, Illinois) was founded in 1966 and has a unique mission: to provide community service through the arts. Theatre profits are donated back to the community and since 1966 over $100,000 has been given to organizations as diverse as the public library and local food bank. Key to this concept is responsibility toward the community. The Kirk Players offer educational and technical service beyond its production schedule; work cooperatively with other community organizations to improve and enrich the cultural climate of the community; develop and serve audiences beyond their original clientele; and recognize the various potential in children, the aging, and the disadvantaged. The Players have no home or permanent facilities, choosing to reinvest their funds into programming and the community. Many theatres provide services to their community but for the Kirk Players that IS its purpose. This year the theatre lost its founder, John W. Lynn, and has rededicated itself to his vision of "service through the arts."
Aviano Community Theater (Aviano Air Base - Aviano, Italy) took major steps this year in new directions, expanding services to the US and Italian communities it serves by enhancing their publicity efforts and partnering with local institutions to enrich the performance experience. ACT created a new Facebook page that links with the My Military Communities (MyMC2) smart phone application. ACT members film and interview performers and crew, releasing these as video clips linked to this year's new ACT YouTube channel. In addition to using social media to enhance ACT publicity efforts, it has partnered with the local medical facility and the Department of Defense Education Activity and the local DoDEA elementary, middle, and high schools to address relevant topics and provide expert information to their audiences and performers.
Mesa Encore Theatre (Mesa, Arizona) was established in 1937 and is the longest operating community theatre in Arizona. Since becoming a Founding Resident Company of the highly acclaimed Mesa Arts Center in 2005, MET has flourished and grown into an award-winning, major force in live theatre offerings in the Phoenix area. In addition to a full season of shows, including some Arizona premieres, it raises funds to present at least one annual scholarship for college students in performing arts and serves as a cooperating theatre with Arizona State University's theatre department, working with undergraduate theatre majors as interns. 2013-2014 marked the inaugural season of MET's new Black Box season. In the 85-seat Black Box venue (separate from the Mesa Arts Center) they are able to present a variety of expanded and new theatre opportunities for artists and audiences. These include new works, the All-Puppet Players, small-cast plays, and the All-AZ Women's Theatre Festival.
Tupelo Community Theatre (Tupelo, Mississippi) was founded in 1969 with a mission to "stimulate, promote, teach, and develop interest in the dramatic arts." In 1985, TCT purchased the historic Lyric Theatre building in downtown Tupelo and has since raised slightly more than $2 million to maintain and improve the historic theatre. The board of directors became aware of the need to take the next step in strategic planning and set realistic and challenging goals related to its mission. One of the most challenging goals was to establish an alternative venue for smaller, less "commercially viable" productions not suitable for the regular five-show season. In November 2013, TCT opened "TCT Off Broadway" with SantaLand Diaries in a renovated retail space just blocks from the Lyric Theatre. Actors, directors, board members, and patrons are excited about this new opportunity for Tupelo Community Theatre to further its mission and serve its community.
SC Johnson is a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace, and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. SC Johnson has supported community artistic endeavors and growth through several avenues. A company sponsored volunteer network assists in volunteer recruitment. The SC Johnson "Dollars for Doers" program provides cash donations in return for volunteer hours, providing tangible rewards to Johnson employees and their organizations. The SC Johnson Fund has awarded matching grants that have been instrumental in theatres' growth. In its headquarters town, Racine, WI, SC Johnson partners with theatres for educational and children's theatre programs through its Golden Rondelle Theatre. The 125-year-old company, with more than $8 billion in sales, employs approximately 12,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world. SC Johnson previously received AACT's Corporate Award in 1994 and is still committed to community support.