Art Cole Award

Art Cole Lifetime of Leadership
Honors a lifetime of leadership in community theatre by members of AACT who have provided leadership at the national level, in addition to local and/or regional levels

2017 Honoree
Julie Crawford (Fort Worth, Texas)
Julie  CrawfordJulie grew up in theatre, participating in children’s theatre and watching her parents’ involvement in Brownwood, Texas, community productions. She holds a BA in theatre and group communications from the University of North Texas, and is a trained adjudicator and workshop leader. She served as Executive Director of Denton Community Theatre in Texas. Julie has been recognized as a Fellow of both AACT and the Southwest Theatre Association (SWTA), and as Volunteer of the Year by SWTA. She received the SWTA Distinguished Service Award, and was recognized by the Texas Nonprofit Theatres with its Ovation Award. Julie serves on the boards of both the Live Theatre League of Tarrant County and Stage West in Fort Worth. For AACT, Julie has participated as a Board Member, Region VI Rep, and Vice President for Planning and Development. For the past 23 years, as AACT’s first full time Executive Director, she has provided strong leadership in support of the organization’s growth in programming, services, membership, budget, and staff.

2017 Honoree
Linda M. Lee (Fort Worth, Texas)
Linda M. LeeExecutive Director of Texas Nonprofit Theatres since 1995, Linda is a Cum Laude honors graduate of Texas Christian University, with a BFA in theatre. She began her professional career as a company member at Casa Manana, where she served for six years in various capacities as actor, teacher, costumer, and administrator for the playhouse. In 1979 Linda joined the fledgling Creative Arts Theatre & School in Arlington, Texas, as an administrative consultant—later becoming Administrative Director, director for mainstage productions, composer, and photographer. She serves as Treasurer of the Live Theatre League of Tarrant County and has served AACT as both President and VP for Education. Linda is an AACT Fellow, a member of the College of Fellows of the Southwest Theatre & Film Association, and Treasurer of Texans for the Arts. The TNT board will miss her leadership as she retires this summer.

Previous Recipients

1987   Art Cole* (Midland, TX)
1988  Sydney Spayde* (Iowa City, IA)
          John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1989  Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1991  Sherwood Lohrey (Memphis, TN)
1992  Harv Thompson (Madison, WI)
1993  Norman McPhee (Racine, WI)
1994  Jim Carver (Kalamazoo, MI)
1995  Enid Holm* (Odessa, TX)
1996  Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1998  L. Ross Rowland* (Muncie, IN)
1999  Bea Miller* (Memphis, TN)
2000  Rusty Clauss (Alexandria, VA)
2001  Rod McCullough (Lancaster, PA)
2002  Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)

2003  Shirley Harbin (Detroit, MI)
2004  John Viars (Des Moines, IA)
2005  Jack Phillips (Downers Grove, IL)
2008  Joanne Berry (Bay City, MI)
          Stephen Peithman (Davis, CA)
2009  Frank Peot (Sun Prairie, WI)
2010  Tom Cowley (Ponca City, OK)
2011  Jim Sohre (Army Europe Command Entertainment
          Sherman C. Ward* (Alexandria Bay, NY)
2012  Bill Muchow (Minneapolis, MN)
2013 Mary Britt (Ocala, FL)
2014 Murray Chase (Venice, FL)
2014 Norman Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2016 Ginger Heath (Monroe, NC)

          * Deceased

Art Cole

Photo of Art ColeThis award is named in honor of Art Cole, who founded the Midland Community Theater in 1946. He served as president of the Southwest Theater Conference, chairman of the Theater Panel for Gov. John Connally’s Texas Conference on the Arts, and vice president of the National Theater Conference. He was one of the small band of community theatre directors and visionaries to meet in Chicago in 1958, under the aegis of the American Educational Theatre Association (which latter became the American Theatre Association), to found the American Community Theatre Association as a provisional program of AETA.  ACTA became a full-fledged division of AETA in 1963, and Art served as President from 1968-70.

He organized the first national community theatre festival and was elected to the Governing Council of the International Amateur Theater Association. He was the first recipient of the American Community Theater Association’s David Bryant Award and was named best director at the International Drama Festival in Dundalk, Ireland, with the production of Butterflies are Free.  He also was an AACT Fellow, and chairman of the Theater Advisory Panel to the Texas Commission on the Arts and president of the International Amateur Theater Association. He died in 2013 at the age of 92.



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